I read you column regularly and wonder if you have any advice for a single parent who wants to date again after being divorced for about a year. My two kids are ten and twelve (boy and a girl) and they are doing pretty well but I don’t want to upset them by introducing them to a new partner right away.
I tried dating right after my divorce and it they didn’t react too well. He was a nice guy but not really interested in getting to know Felicia and Mark, who are both pretty close to me and their dad, and spend close to equal time with each of us.
Do you have any tips to help me deal with dating and with introducing my kids to someone without rocking the boat too much?
Thanks so much,
You sound like you are worried that you might be dating too soon after your divorce and that it might have a negative impact on your children. While most rebound relationships don’t do any permanent harm, they can postpone the recovery process and don’t allow a person time to consider their contribution to their divorce. In fact, it can be an easy way out of dealing with emotional pain – an essential part of healing.
Escaping by means of a rebound relationship can prevent you from gaining self-awareness about the reasons your marriage ended and the lessons you need to learn from it. It can also be a challenge for children to accept a new partner within two years after a divorce, so being cautious is a good idea.
6 things to consider before dating soon after divorce:
1. Rebound relationships are typically short-term and usually don’t allow the newly divorced person time to process the end of their marriage and grieve it. Rebounds can complicate or delay this process.
2. Newly separated and divorced people are usually feeling pretty lonely, needy, and vulnerable so are probably not ready to engage in an intimate relationship. However, every person is different and if you take it slow, it might be a match that works out.
3. The timing is probably off. Consider this: even someone who might be a good match for you in the future probably isn’t a good bet now. One or both of you simply needs more time to heal. As a result, the relationship may end abruptly – so be prepared.
4. Take your time introducing your children to a new partner and do so in a low key way with realistic expectations. Don’t expect that your kids are going to be fond of your new love interest just because you think that he or she might be a terrific match for you! A short visit in a neutral place (like a diner) is best.
5. If you’re eager to remarry, consider that the divorce rate is over 65% for second marriages. One of the main reasons is that people date too soon after their breakup and end up picking a partner who has similar characteristics to their ex.
6. Rebound relationships can be fun but you may be relying on your new partner to fix some of your problems. Be careful! Looking to your new love for validation is risky business if you have not healed from your divorce.
It can also be hard for children to warm up to a new adult in their parent’s life because of reconciliation fantasies or the hope that their parents will get back together. If you decide to introduce your children to someone you’re dating, make sure this person is someone who you believe is reliable and interested in being part of your life rather than a casual partner.
On the other hand, dating several different people casually can give you the opportunity to figure out what type of partner you need to thrive. Trying out new relationships can be less risky if both partners have realistic expectations and don’t see the partnership as long-term. If you go into a rebound relationship with your eyes wide open, you stand a better chance of recovering more quickly if it ends badly and you are less likely to repeat any negative patterns.
Twitter, Facebook, and, movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s award winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website.
I’d love to hear from you and answer your questions about relationships, divorce, marriage, and remarriage. Please ask a question here. Thanks! Terry