Navigating Post-Divorce Dating

Dating after divorce is quite a normal thing. It can feel wonderful. It’s a time of self-discovery, a return to internal values, and the thrill of meeting new people. None of this makes you a bad parent. This time post-divorce is a period of self-discovery, reconnecting with internal values, and the excitement of meeting new people. However, for parents, especially those with kids, some unique considerations and responsibilities come into play. Here are some recommendations for parents stepping into the world of post-divorce dating:

1. Take Time for Yourself:

Try waiting one year after divorce before you start dating. It can take that long before you recover, get your footing, and find out who you are now. You’re not the same person you were before marriage. Jumping into another relationship is a bad strategy for most people. Do the work. Go to therapy. Allow yourself to recover emotionally and establish a stronger sense of self.

2. Consider Your Children’s Needs:

Your kids need you. Their world just turned upside down. They don’t want to be with a babysitter while you go on dates. You’ll really regret being away from your kids…because most of those people you meet will not become long-term partners. Your kids are navigating their own emotions and adjustments post-divorce. Introducing a new partner too soon can be overwhelming for them. Wait at least six months before introducing your partner to your kids. When you do decide to introduce them to your kids, first let their other parent know. If you’re in a place that allows it, arrange for introductions between your new partner and your kids’ other parent FIRST.

3. Prioritize Communication:

In post-divorce dating, talk to your new partner about parenting. Describe your kids’ strengths and challenges. Explain how they are best activated, and what they best respond to. Be clear on who can discipline, and what that discipline will look like. Review your values, goals, and dreams for your children. Be clear: “My kids are my highest priority, and you’ll never be higher than them. But I’d love for you to join our family.”

Don’t forget the impact your time and attention have on your kids, especially following divorce. Dating can be a wonderful experience, but your kids, your healing, and your growth should remain your priorities. If you’re struggling to support your kids through divorce or are struggling with co-parenting, do not hesitate to seek parent therapy.