Dating In Divorce: Are We Adolescents Again? 4 Ways to Connect with Success
er relationship. With the experience of marriage and children, however, you may be both daunted and terrified at the prospect of re-entering the fray. After all, you are likely older now, have more experience and many more responsibilities than you did previously. So, how do you approach the brave n
ew world of contemplating a new partnership, with children? You may be tempted to either opt out altogether until the children leave the nest or simply throw yourself out there and see what sticks. It’s likely in your best interest, and that of your kids, to formulate a plan that makes the likelihood of success, defined as re-engaging with interesting people, not necessarily re-partnering immediately, as your goal. Teaching kids you are resilient, and using a thoughtful approach, matters to their development too.
- Make a plan
Are you hoping to have fun, a little diversion from your usual responsibilities and work life, in addition to the friendships you already have? Then, think through what you are willing to do, for now, to get there, and don’t look back. It seems many think online dating is the only way to make the acquaintance of romantic interests but if you’re not ready to try it, don’t. Create “energy” around your availability and see what happens organically. When you share your interests with those who do too, whether through a Meetup group or a club, you can likely find people who share your passions. It’s a good start. If friends and family have been trying to introduce you to someone they think is “just right,” say yes and approach it with a spirit of fun. If it’s a disaster, so be it. Chalk it up to experience and a good story to share with your best girlfriends. In other words, don’t create pressure or expectations around what happens now. Dip a toe in, if you’re ready, and have fun!
- Protect Your Kids
Since you don’t know what will happen, don’t make it part of your children’s lives, right now. They may find it confusing to meet many new people, right now, especially if they still don’t know exactly where the relationship with mom and dad is headed. No need to introduce them, just yet, to potential romantic interests. Try to show them you are working with their other parent to serve their interests no matter your personal feelings about them. Cooperative co-parenting is one of the best ways to ease the transition for your kids. So, yes, you may need to behave the way you did with your parents when you were an adolescent. Just as you didn’t share all (or any) of the details of your romantic interests (or imagined romances) with your parents, resist the urge to do so with your kids now. Think of this time as your time to explore who you may be now, and even experiment. Only your closest friends, or maybe only you, need those details right now.
- Stay Calm, Cool and Collected
Or, at least try to be. Don’t make your dating life your whole world. It’s likely you manage lots of new moving parts right now. Allow yourself the time and space for all of the changes. Do not rush headlong into new partnership as a fix for all those changes. Use this time to decide what has changed and what hasn’t—for you. Use the opportunity to spend time with your kids on your terms and theirs. You may discover they have interests different from what you knew they did. Play, explore and discover with your kids and your friends. Create a new life for you and them.
- When the Time is Right to Introduce A New Partner
It’s likely you will decide, eventually, that someone you meet after your divorce should meet your kids. So, what’s the right time and how to do it? First, make sure this is someone you think might be in your life for a while. Your kids have likely faced an abundance of change already—a new relationship between their parents, one or more new homes, and new routines at home with each parent. This doesn’t mean you need to expect to marry but, really, a more consistent presence right now is better for your kids. Don’t worry if the relationship doesn’t last forever and certainly don’t stay in it forever to please your kid. Showing children you can navigate a functional relationship, and even the ending to one, matters.
In sum, remember that you face many transitions in your life right now. Your approach to dating and recoupling as one more aspect of a full and abundant life is likely the best one for you now. Use this time to experiment with what lies ahead, get your work and financial life in order and have fun with your kids. With this approach, whether or not you meet the next love of your life makes the ride as good as the destination.