Dating when you have kids can be complicated, especially if you’re getting back into the dating scene after a divorce. As your feelings grow and you begin to picture a future with your new partner, you no doubt have questions about when the right time is to introduce them to your children. Before doing so, think about how your children and partner will react when they are brought together. Will your partner think things are moving too quickly or do your children still harbor the hope of you and your ex getting back together? Before taking the plunge, here are five tips from our matchmakers for dating after divorce when you have kids.
Explore New Love
Have fun exploring this new phase in your life! You don’t have to keep your new love a secret, but you also don’t have to rush to introduce them to everyone you know. For now, have fun getting to know each other without the stresses of familial obligations. You don’t want to introduce your children to someone who may not be in your life a couple months from now. Certainty will play a key role in gaining your children’s trust later on. Because they know you don’t bring home every date, the one you do bring home and show off is sure to make a stronger first impression. Enjoy being in love!
Nurture Positive Feelings
Use the time before the two parties meet to nurture positive feelings toward the other. Without a doubt, your children may feel a sense of rivalry with your new love, even if they haven’t met yet. Take some time to clear up these feelings before introducing them to each other and the first meeting will go much smoother.
Be Aware of Your Children’s Feelings
While you may wish to avoid your ex, your children likely want them to be a part of their life. Though you are ready to move on with a new partner, keep your children’s feelings in mind and try to ease them into this new chapter of your life. When their parent is seeing someone new, some children may express feelings of sadness, anger and other strong emotions. It might be a good idea to see a family counselor before any introductions are made to ensure that they are ready to meet and accept your new love.
Listen and Communicate
As much as you try to prevent it, there may be tension between your partner and your children. Conflict between the two parties will likely cause problems at home and put a strain on your relationship with your partner. To circumvent this, be open with your partner about possible misgivings your children may have and come up with a plan to resolve outbursts and future conflicts. This trust will create the solid foundation you will need to build a harmonious household in the future.
Model a Healthy Relationship
After a divorce, children may not think positively of love and marriage, particularly if the divorce was long and stressful. If they are old enough, make sure you sit down with your children to explain that even though it didn’t work out between you and your ex, it doesn’t have to be that way. Be open and honest about why the relationship didn’t work out and that you would like to date other people in the future, so they don’t feel surprised when you start to go on dates. Then, when you do make an introduction, your children will know that you didn’t take this step lightly and are trying to be a good role model for them. If you are intimate with your partner, be sure that any sleepovers are conducted discreetly or – if you share custody – when your children are not in the home.
Introducing your new love to your children can be a long process, but with patience and a little guidance from our matchmakers, you can be on your way to a long and happy partnership.