It may be you decided to get a divorce because you were in a marriage that had not been working well for some time and you could not see that it would ever get any better at meeting your needs.
Or, you thought your marriage was good enough and that it would last into old age only to be faced with your life partner telling you they don’t feel the same and want a divorce.
No matter what the situation is that has brought you to this juncture, there are generally many feelings that could accompany a transition of this magnitude. You may be feeling scared, angry, relieved, guilty, etc. And, there are a multitude of adjustments to make as you rearrange your life to accommodate them.
Fast forward a bit and consider that there is a good chance you will decide to try to meet someone again or you have already met someone who you think would be a good partner for you. And, you have children.
It is important to think about how your needs for a partner and your children’s needs intersect. You may want to consider the following when approaching this decision:
1. Am I ready to start dating?
Take the time to experience the ending of your relationship. Many people think they will feel better if they “get out there” and start meeting new people. It feels like it is taking charge and addressing any potential loneliness. Take the time to experience the grief and loss. Many people find they make poorer choices when they gloss over the feelings they are having about the ending of a significant relationship.
2. Think about the timing of bringing a new person into your children’s lives.
While your relationship has changed (parents to co-parents), your children still experience you and the other parent as their family. More changes, especially when the family structure may have recently changed, are not easy. They are likely making an adjustment from their pre-divorce family to their post-divorce family, as are you.
Sometimes, children think their parent’s divorce is their fault. Did they cause any of the arguments you had? They worry that divorce means if their parents can stop loving each other, maybe they can stop loving them as well.
Children often want their parents to get back together and a new person may interfere with this desire or a child’s need for time just with you while they are making these adjustments.
3. Take the time to really know someone before introducing him/her to your children.
It sometimes takes a while to meet someone special while dating. Wait until you both have the feeling that this connection is one that you want to last.
Don’t expose your children to a revolving door of potential mates. They might get attached to them, only to have them leave. Children with this experience may learn to not allow the connection to a new partner after having allowed it previously.
4. I am already in a new relationship
If you are already in another relationship, be very careful about how you introduce him/her to your children. If you do so too soon, you run the risk of them disliking them simply because they may be perceived as trying to replace the other parent and/or blame them for the rupture in the family.
Give your children time to adjust to the new relationship they have with each of you in separate households. Children often find it a challenge to have less time or more time with a parent than they did before the divorce and often crave the time with each parent without the addition of a new adult.
5. Tell the other parent first
Before you tell your children about or introduce them to that new romantic someone in your life, let the other parent know about him/her first.
Do not inadvertently make your children the messengers. You may be putting them in the position of having to experience the emotional reaction of their other parent when they tell about the great time they had with your new friend this past weekend.
Most children are very resilient after divorce when their parents take their needs and concerns into consideration and eliminate any conflict between them and the other parent. Children can often adapt and adjust given time, care and patience.