So there’s this other d-word in the divorce world, and it’s not Divorce…it’s DATING. Some of you might not be ready to dive in, some of you might have already jumped in to the deep end, and some of you might be somewhere in between. Dating after divorce can be scary, exciting, fun, thrilling, and difficult. It can also be amazing, provided you have some basic boundaries about your dating life. Read on for more!
>Find the right dating service or app. Generally, paid apps will yield better results because the commitment of a paid app means people are more serious about finding a partner. Consider the idea that free apps allow people to secretly browse and date without leaving a financial footprint–possibly allowing married people to cheat, which would be a dealbreaker for your dating life. If you have the financial means, using a dating service, where you meet with the matchmaker in person, and they find you people who they think are compatible partners and arrange introductions.
>Know your values. Things like honesty, integrity, how he treats other people, and how he talks about people in his life are key factors. Also important are things like level of education, income, profession, lifestyle, and activity level. Personally, I hate hiking. If someone is a huge hiker and spends tons of free time hiking, that probably isn’t a good match for me. Also, if they are rude to the waiter or waitress at a restaurant, or unkind to the guy at the gas station counter, he’s also probably not for me. You will have to decide which things you can tolerate, and which are your deal breakers.
>Get rid of the guilt. Yes, you are a mom, but that isn’t ALL you are. You are a vibrant, loving, exciting woman who needs to live a FULL life. Your kids won’t be around forever, and you will be depriving yourself of much joy if you allow your guilt about needing to be a mom prevent you from finding a new partner. Also, you probably have some time in your life when you don’t have your kids. Save dating time for that time–so there’s no need to feel guilty!
>Do let your dates know you have kids. It’s not a good idea to hide the fact that you have children from prospective partners. They are a huge part of who you are and your life and it would be dishonest to keep them secret. Also, you want to make sure that a potential new partner gets to know about all aspects of your life, because they, too, are assessing how you meet up with their values. You would want him to be honest with you as well. It works both ways.
>Take your time when introducing someone. Think about how and when to introduce a new partner to your kids. This depends a little bit on the ages of your kids. While there is no set ‘time’ that you have to wait before introducing someone, use some sense: only introduce a love interest if you are in a serious relationship with them. Introducing everyone you date to your kids can be really confusing for them, and that’s not putting them first.
When you are ready to introduce someone, start the conversation with your kids, telling them that you have a new friend you would like them to meet sometime. Tell them about him, what he likes to do, what he does for a living, things he might have in common with them. Then decide on a time to meet. It’s a good idea to choose a neutral meeting location [playground for younger kids, mini-golf or another activity for older kids], and to keep the focus on the activity, not forcing the friendship right away. That will come in time, and with more experiences your kids have with this person. Just be patient.
>Have fun! This can be a really exciting and fulfilling time in your life. Enjoy meeting new people and exercising your new assertive boundary badass muscles! Know what you want and don’t settle. You are amazing and WORTH it. Remember, every date that doesn’t work out is a LESSON. You will learn how to tell if you want to continue with someone or not, and you will have your own back when you choose not to. You will feel powerful because you were able to choose YOU for what might be the first time in your life [or a long time, maybe], and it will be amazing.
Are you ready to feel joy again, reclaim your independence, and chart a path toward healing and recovery? I would love to help you as you take those steps.