Dating can be challenging in the best of circumstances. Add children, an ex-spouse or partner, and trust or commitment challenges, and you have an uphill battle at times. However, it does not have to be as treacherous as it seems. You also do not have to enter the dating world until you are absolutely ready. There are some things you should and should not do when preparing for a single parent dating life.
Do Make the Choice to Date When YOU Are Ready
When a relationship does not work, or a spouse dies, friends often mean well when they encourage someone to get back out there, but it is not always the right time. There are no magic formulas. You cannot calculate the right time. There is no x number of months single after y number of years in a relationship. Some relationships end better than others, and some people are in a better place. The amount of time you spend grieving a failed relationship or deceased partner has no bearing on how much you loved them. For some people, it is longer than others. If you try to date before you feel ready, you will probably cause yourself more grief, and you may hurt someone else in the process. If you are ready after two months, go out and be content. If you aren’t ready for two years, wait until you are.
If you decide that it is time to start dating again, your children have the right to know and understand.
Don’t Look for Your Former Partner
Whether your last relationship ended on good terms, due to tragedy, or due to toxicity, your new dates are not your old partners. Sometimes we tend to look for the traits we miss the most or are most afraid of in our new partners. Sometimes when the previous partner dies, we want to replace them because we miss them so much. On the other hand, if our last partner was a liar and a cheater, we spend the entirety of the new relationship waiting on the new partner to make the same bad choices. This tendency is exacerbated if your last two or three partners cheated. Each person is different. Yes, you need to be aware of red flags, but you do not need to seek them out and plant them where there are none.
Do Have Honest Conversations with Your Kids— Regardless of Age
If you decide that it is time to start dating again, your children have the right to know and understand. Their understanding does not need to include your sexual desires, but you can let them know that you want the companion of someone new. If the hurt is fresh for your children, you can let them know that it does not reflect on how much you love them, their other parent, or anyone else. You simply want to find an adult that you enjoy hanging out with sometimes. If their parent died, this could be particularly difficult. Let your child know that even if you meet someone and get married, their biological parent will always be their mom or dad and that the new person cannot replace them.
Don’t Let Your Children Control Your Choices
Waiting a little while to help your children get used to the idea may be fine, but do not let them dictate how you spend your time. Children need to know that their welfare is the most important thing and they can voice concerns and feelings about you dating but they cannot force you into being single forever. If they are having an incredibly hard time, see about family counselling or a therapist to help them through their feelings. They may be experiencing anxiety that you are not equipped to handle alone. If possible, see if their other parent will also attend these sessions to make sure you are all on the same page.
Do Wait to Make Introductions
Introducing your child to a new partner after a short relationship may mean that you introduce them to people too often. Instead, make sure that the relationship is stable before letting them see you dating someone new. At the same time, do not be afraid to let them know if that relationship later ends. Children should know that not every relationship will work out, but that is no reason to stop dating.
Do Not Be Afraid of the Future
We do not know what the future will hold. Do not be afraid to meet people because it may not work out. Think back to middle or high school. Most of the people you knew back then did not marry the person they dated in those years. Sometimes a couple went on a date, and decades later went on a second date and got married, but most of them did not have continuous relationships with one person. You are not meant to marry or enter into a long-term relationship with everyone you date. Get out there and have 27 first dates before you have a second date if you want. Remember, going on a date does not have to lead to sex. Whether you are a man or a woman, you do not have to do anything you do not want to do. Have fun.
Deciding to enter the dating world after years of being “out of the market” can be scary. However, you should decide what you want to do and when. You need to decide when you are ready, what type of relationship you want, and what your terms are. You cannot rely on your children, ex, or friends and family to make that decision for you.
Dating can be beautiful, but it does not even have to be serious. If you spent decades with one person, you should be able to enjoy yourself without settling down immediately. However, do not bring your dates into your children’s lives until you are sure the relationship is stable. As for how to meet people, talk to other single friends in your area. There may be excellent dating services, frequently used apps, or remarkable events for singles. When meeting someone from a service or app, be sure that you meet them in a public place until you get to know them better. It’s better to be safe than sorry.