Dating can be hard after you’ve dedicated so much time to raising your children. We often forget to care about our own needs because we are so focused on what they need. Deciding that you are ready to begin dating again is sometimes harder than the act of dating itself.
However, when you are certain you want to get back out there and become a participant in the game of dating, here are some practices you should follow as a single parent.
- You aren’t just dating, you are forming a family.
As a single parent, you have your own little family unit. When you start dating again, you are bringing someone from the outside and trying to incorporate them into that unit. Sometimes the transition is easy and sometimes it is met with resistance—mainly on the kids’ end. This is because children, especially young ones, often feel that they have to fight for your attention, which can be very awkward for them because they never had to do that before. You will want to assure them that you still love them and that you are always there for them and they come first.
- Avoid the revolving door scenario.
It may take you a while to find someone that you really want to incorporate into your family and as a result, you’ll have to kiss a lot of frogs. This doesn’t mean that you should introduce your children to each frog along the way. Why? While you may think you are being courteous by keeping them informed about who you are seeing, you are actually giving them the wrong impression about what love is. Also, when you introduce them to the person you are seeing and they become attached to them, you won’t be the only one devastated should things not work out. Spare them the heartache and confusion by only introducing your partner to your kids when you know for certain that the relationship is going to be long term.
- Engage in “What if”?” conversations.
Even before you begin dating, you will want to ask your children various “What if?” questions like “What if I start dating again? How would you feel about it?” Then, as the relationship progresses, you could revisit the questions by asking how they felt about you seeing that person more frequently. How would the kids feel if they brought their kids over, and things like this. With these questions, you can gauge how they are receiving your new relationship and can either talk to them and try to ease their fears or evaluate whether the relationship should end.
- Pace your dating.
It can be exciting dating someone new, there is no denying that. However, as a single parent, you cannot spend every waking moment with your new partner, as much as you may want to. You will have to find a good balance between being there for your children and nurturing your new relationship so that everyone is happy.
- Expect mixed reactions.
Many times, children feel like they are being disloyal to the other parent for liking a parent’s new partner. Because of this, you may experience instances where they get along with the new partner and then they suddenly turn cold. It can go back and forth like this for some time. Just try not to be too hard on your kids because this is as new to them as it to you.