Dating can be difficult. Every relationship has issues and challenges. Even the best romances with amazing connections, genuine friendships and intense passions can have difficulties. That’s when you’re surprised to find yourself telling your friend that you’re feeling disappointed, frustrated, and filled with doubts about the relationship that you described to that same friend as recently as a week ago as delightful, genuine, maybe even perfect.
That’s a relationship in “ideal” circumstances.
But relationships face a far wider array of challenges when one or both parties are returning to dating after a divorce, and are also parents. These difficulties include questions such as, “When do we meet the kids?” to “How can we find time to be together as a couple?”
Following are seven tips for divorced parents who are dating:
- Try to strike the right balance. You won’t be able to make everyone happy. But don’t always put the same person first. No matter what you do, others may end up feeling resentful and frustrated. When it comes to the kids, you should do what you can to encourage relationships with their parents. As much as you try, you might not be able to keep everyone happy. Finding the proper balance is the key to a peaceful and happy relationship.
- Be patient about exposing your children to the new relationship. People who find love again after divorcing may feel giddy and ecstatic about the relationship, and often want to share that happiness with their kids. But what they don’t realize is that the kids may need some more time. The kids might still be upset over their parent’s divorce. And just because you’re happy in your relationship doesn’t mean that your kids will automatically be happy, too. Exercise patience, and make sure everyone has the time they need to adjust your new relationship. Don’t ever force the kids to spend time together, don’t introduce them too soon, and don’t force the connections.
- Don’t be offended if their kids aren’t ready to meet you. Most kids have a difficult time when their parents enter a new relationship. They may have still been hoping that their their parents would get back together. They may be having difficulties trusting somebody new. They might feel awkward or scared around new people. They may feel that liking the new person is breaking their loyalty towards the other parent. Don’t necessary take it personally if they don’t want to meet you. It isn’t personal, If you can wait it out and be patient, the kids will likely warm up to you.
- Vary how you spend your time and who you spend it with. It’s important that you’re not always spending your together time in the same ways. Mix it up so you’re spending time with everyone, but in different combinations. You need time alone as a couple, time with just your own kids, and time all together, a couple with all of your kids. Don’t be offended; they shouldn’t include you in everything with them, and you shouldn’t feel obligated to include them in everything, either.
- Don’t assume the role of stepparent. The kids all still have a father and a mother. They don’t need a stepparent, and they usually don’t want a replacement. The best thing for you to do for your new partner’s kids is to be a friend and someone they can rely on. Let the kids decide how close they want to be with you. Just make sure you’re there when they do need you.
- Don’t let the kids define your relationship. After divorce, dating can be very meaningful and special. Many people who found love again after a divorce are pleasantly surprised. The love and the new relationship that you build should be allowed to develop and grow whether you have your kid’s support or not. Enjoy as much as you can the joy of the new connection you’ve made. You shouldn’t worry about being a perfect family right now. What really matters now is the love you feel when you’re with your new love. The kids will most likely come around at some point.
- Maintain civility with the exes. Put aside as much pettiness as you possibly can. Regardless of how you feel about your new partner’s ex, that person is still the parent of your new partner’s kids. For that reason, you need to treat the ex with kindness and respect. Avoid acting immature and selfish. Be grateful, and do what you can to accommodate their needs. Understand that you’ve all moved on, and you all deserve happiness in the new relationships.