When your divorce is finalised, the next big step in continuing your life is getting back in the dating game. It helps you get your mind off your past, helps you see what’s still ahead in your future, and, most importantly, helps you begin the much needed healing process.
Like most first-time divorcees, it’s difficult to navigate your way through the new-again dating world. How soon is too soon? What if they’re too much like your ex? When is it appropriate to get serious? Chances are that many of the questions you have about dating after divorce are the same questions that millions of newly single parents ask themselves every day.
Instead of going through who-knows-how-many-months of trial and error dating, we’ve broken down the most common do’s and don’t’s that recent divorcees should live by.
DO: Keep an open and positive mind about dating.
When re-entering the dating scene, many adults have an ‘I’m used merchandise’ mentality. With the divorce rate nearing 60% in America, you’re not the only one in your position. Put aside the pity party and put yourself out there! Instead of being pessimistic about dating, remind yourself that it’s an opportunity to start fresh and continue your life.
DON’T: Introduce them to your children.
Children, especially young ones, have a hard time understanding the difference between a parent’s new partner and the role their other parent plays. If you’re a mother and you bring home a boyfriend, your child is going to associate him with a father figure, and it can get confusing for them to understand why you’re now showing the affection towards him that you used to show towards your child’s father.
It’s important to remember that kids get emotionally attached easily, and when they see someone in the shoes of a parent, they can get attached even quicker than normal. Bringing different partners to meet your children gets complicated for them, and can result in emotional trauma. Don’t bring any new spouses until you know they’re there to stay.
DO: Meet them where the date will be held.
Sharing your life verbally should be your main priority when starting a new relationship, so keeping a physical separation between your new date and your home life is very important. It allows you to share what you want to share and hold back what you’re not ready for them to know.
Not having them pick you up gives you a sense of control, which can help you maintain a positive outlook on your new dating life.
DON’T: Drop the ‘L’ word too soon.
There’s nothing like being a teenager. You can meet a guy, claim you’re in love, break up, and move on to your next soul mate all within a week. Unfortunately, once your teenage years end, so does your right to be so lax with love. Now that you’re a parent, you’re not just dating for you anymore– You’re dating for your kids, as well.
Each person you’re with is going to be a huge influence on your children, and it’s now your responsibility to to take them into consideration when dating. Sure it would be nice to go from divorce to in love again, however when it’s done too fast, it’s a sign that you haven’t given your family enough consideration. Make a conscious effort to take things slow with all potential relationships.
DO: Stay out of your ex’s love life.
It’s only natural to want to know all the details of the life of someone you used to spend every day with, however when you keep up with what they’re doing in their love life, it often triggers a subconscious competitive need to ‘beat’ them to being happy.
Instead of choosing people who you think would be good for you, you’re more likely to accept anyone as a dating partner simply so your ex has the illusion that you’re happy with your life. Not prying into the love life of your ex will allow you to concentrate more on your own.
DON’T: Accept complications.
If there’s something about their life that would make yours difficult, then move on! There are plenty of single people to spend your time with that don’t bring unnecessary complications into your life. With your first priority being your child, your second should be keeping a healthy, balanced and calm life. Crisis Kings and Drama Queens need not apply.
Re-entering the dating world doesn’t have to be dreaded! Keeping a clear mind about what you should and shouldn’t look for in a partner will help you make better decisions and will ultimately lead you to a mutually beneficial relationship.