Are you ready? It can be exciting to connect with someone who piques your interest; it can feel like a nice diversion from the upheaval of the divorce. You may be feeling lonely and stressed out. Divorce and dating can be complicated. Here are 7 divorce and dating considerations.
Dating during a divorce can heighten tensions and increase divorce costs. When one party is upset during the divorce process, they are less likely to collaborate; in fact, when someone’s pride is hurt, they are more likely to stand their ground. Negotiating custody, co-parenting, and spousal maintenance with an angry co-parent can cloud decision-making and lengthen the divorce process, increasing the cost.
Allow yourself and your children some time to adjust to your new reality after your divorce. Moving into a new relationship too soon after divorce can prevent you from addressing the issues that led to the breakdown of your marriage. Take advantage of this time to reflect, grieve, adjust, learn, and heal. Work on yourself, including your role as a parent, your career, and your interests.
Schedule a specific amount of time every week or month to keep up with dates. You should give dating priority in your schedule because it can feel like a full-time job at times. Determine your core values and know your boundaries. Make a list of “dating deal breakers,” with personality traits and habits you simply cannot live with. If you see a red flag, do not ignore it. Be clear about what you want before inviting people into your life.
Many experts advise waiting a year before introducing a new love interest to your children. However, if you’ve been dating for a while and are in a serious committed relationship, you’ll want to see how the person interacts with your children. Also, if they have kids, how do they interact with them? The two adults may get along great, but how the person interacts with your children can make or break the relationship. Don’t want to waste time dating someone who won’t work out when you’re all together. Make sure your kids are in a healthy mindset and are ready. Because the children are vulnerable to attachment once they are introduced. The loss of a “friend” can have long-term consequences for your children’s mental health and well-being, as well as your relationship with them.
Expect your co-parent to have a difficult time with the new person around their children.Things will go much more smoothly if you tell the co-parent BEFORE introducing a new romantic partner to the children. Keep in mind that you are not requesting permission, but rather providing a courtesy “heads up.” This small act of kindness can have a long-term impact on the family system and future co-parenting.
Deciding where to do an introduction with your children is important. Begin with a brief meeting in a neutral location. Bringing a “new friend” to dinner, mini golfing or the park is fine. However, bringing a love interest to your child’s sporting event can be unpleasant, especially if the co-parent will also be there. Your child may be distracted and concerned with what is happening with his or her parents. The age of the child may be a determining factor. It can be easier for older kids (18 and up) to handle than smaller kids.
When incorporating the new love interest into the routine, remember “family time.” Most likely, you’ll want to spend time with both your kids and your new love interest. Remember your kids are eager to see you and connect with you.
1. Wait until the divorce is final to start dating openly.
2. It is important to have moved through the grieving process of the marriage ending and take the time needed to feel confident in your new identity.
3. Make a plan on how to move forward, honoring your core values and boundaries.
4. Waiting until children are ready to meet a new partner improves the chances that the new relationship will succeed.
5. Work to resolve issues so that unhealthy patterns are not repeated. Commit to changing any negative relationship patterns from the past.
6. Be prepared for your co-parent to have a difficult time with the new love interest.
7. Don’t forget about family time.
Take your time, be considerate of the children and the co-parent, and have fun!
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CDC Divorce Transition and Recovery Coach®
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Excellent points to keep in mind. I can say that dating during the divorce process is almost a guarantee for higher conflict and costs for the reasons stated. Keeping dating “a secret” often backfires.