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Tips for Dating after Divorce When You Have Kids

The divorce papers are signed. Your marriage is over. You’re looking forward to your future. Maybe you’re even going to scope out the dating scene.

But before you start visiting dating sites or setting up a dating profile, it’s important to consider how your children will fit in with that process.

Are you ready to start dating again?

If you throw yourself into dating without getting yourself healthy and centered first, you may find yourself making new mistakes. Do an emotional checkup on yourself. Ask these questions before you begin post-divorce dating:

  • Are you still reeling from the pain of your past relationship, or have you accepted your divorce, learned from it, and moved on?
  • In your healing process, have you nurtured your heart, body, and mind through healthy behaviors and positive support?
  • Have you processed all that happened and taken enough time to grieve and heal? 
  • Have you done the necessary emotional work to forgive your ex or yourself?

How to know if you’re ready

You might be ready to start dating after divorce if:

  • You don’t ruminate about your divorce each day. It may enter your mind, but it doesn’t occupy all your waking thoughts.
  • You don’t need a new partner just to boost your self-esteem.
  • You feel good about yourself emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
  • You’re optimistic about your life and your future.
  • The thought of dating, and possibly a new relationship, excites you. 
  • You truly want to move on and explore your options.

Dating is as much a process of self-discovery as it is a process of seeking a new partner. You may want to keep it casual at first – less about developing a “relationship” and more about enjoying life and getting to know some new people. 

How to know if the kids are ready

Your kids have been through a lot and must now navigate a world they haven’t chosen. Introducing a new friend prematurely could feel like a threat to a child’s already shaky world. They need to know that they’re still your top priority. They also need to know that their other parent will always be there for them. 

Although at some point you’ll want to address the issue of dating, take your cues about their readiness directly from them. Depending on their age and maturity level, that could range from an age-appropriate discussion about new relationships to watching how they act toward any of your encounters with other people.

Ask yourself: Are they still feeling insecure? Do they need more time or reassurance before seeing you get on with life without their other parent? You know your child better than almost anyone. Think deeply about how they’re feeling, and tread carefully as you start to meet people and contemplate introducing them to your kids.

Keep your romantic life separate from your family life

At first, you’ll want to be very careful about keeping your dating life separate from your family life with the kids. 

If you co-parent with your ex, a good time to schedule any dates with new partners would be when the kids aren’t around. If that isn’t an option, avoid abruptly bringing new partners home or introducing them to your kids too soon. Until you determine that a romantic interest has a real future with you, it’s best to keep these two aspects of your life separate.

This also goes for the romantic “sleepover”

Unless you’re in a serious relationship with someone, think twice before having them sleep over when your kids are there. You can avoid this awkwardness by going to that person’s place, staying at a hotel, or waiting until you have privacy in your own home.

Be careful with introductions

If you anticipate having a long-term relationship with your new partner and are dating exclusively, you may be eager to introduce this person to your kids. But before they meet for the first time, make sure this person is truly a good fit, not just for you but for the family. 

Consider hosting the introduction in a low-pressure public place where your kids feel comfortable and the encounter can be casual. It should feel low-key and last just a short amount of time. Beforehand, suggest to your partner ways they might break the ice with your kids, such as talking about hobbies, pets, sports, or school. 

Although your kids may truly like your new partner, associating with them can feel confusing and perhaps even like a betrayal of their other parent. Understand that your kids may not wholeheartedly warm up to your new love interest for multiple reasons. It takes time and understanding. Encourage them to voice their feelings or concerns, and listen closely to what they say.

Tell your ex-spouse

Respect your ex. If you have a new love interest, your ex should hear about it from you, not the kids. Let your former partner know you have someone new in your life so they are prepared if your kids bring it up.

Make yourself and your kids your top priorities

Divorce prompts a wide spectrum of life changes. It’s okay to take baby steps. Check in with yourself periodically when you’re in the dating world. Make healthy relationships with your kids and yourself your top priorities.

Know your deal-breakers, too. What do you want in your future relationships? What don’t you want? Keep in mind that your next relationship doesn’t have to result in remarriage.

At Hello Divorce, we strive to make the time before, during, and after divorce as simple, affordable, and supportive as possible. Let us help you with our online divorce plans and services and our extensive library of resources. Schedule a free 15-minute call to find out how we can help.