This question frequently comes up in divorce cases. We always tell our clients that the answer to dating after divorce is that every single case is a very personal decision. Whenever you feel comfortable entering the dating world again, you can do so. That said, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.
Love yourself first.
Give yourself ample time to heal, reflect, and grow. Get to know and love yourself again. You want to be certain that you have taken time to heal, and truly want to date more than you feel like you need to date. Once you are ready and willing to feel all the emotions involved in dating again, then it’s a good sign that you’re truly ready.
This is a great time to lean on advice from an objective third party, like your therapist or counselor. Even when the best intentions are at heart, often friends and family can’t help but insert a little of their own perspectives and intentions on the matter, when it is truly the most personal of decisions.
“There is no one who will truly know when is the right time, aside from you.”
Don’t ever get back out to dating after divorce simply because everyone is telling you that is what you need to do. Should a careful self-analysis reveal that you’re not ready to date, let the nosey people know with a power statement that eliminates their continual asking. You don’t owe anyone an explanation, but to save your own sanity you can simply let them know, “I’ve chosen to dive into my kids and ensure they have a healthy balance in both homes before focusing on my dating life.” Because that is exactly where you SHOULD be when you decide that the right time for dating has truly arrived.
Keep yourself safe.
In this day and age, you also must consider your social media accounts and what you put on there if new people are to see that. Keeping people you don’t know away from your personal life until you’re ready is the safest plan.
Don’t introduce your kids to someone you barely know and more importantly, don’t bring them to your house. If you’re newly dating someone, consider having them meet you somewhere public to keep your address and children safe if things don’t work out. You should also be sure not to spend any marital monies on your new partner, as this could be problematic in the divorce case.
“For example, don’t withdraw money from a joint savings account to fund a vacation with your new partner, as your ex could accuse you of dissipating marital assets.”
What About the Kids?
And if things are working out well for you in the dating world, use caution when deciding the right time to introduce your new boyfriend or girlfriend to your children. Consider the effect the divorce has had on the children and whether they are prepared to welcome someone new into their lives. When it’s time to introduce them to your children, ask your children for guidance first – if they’re old enough. Have an open dialogue and pointedly ask them what would be most comfortable for them.
“Your children need to understand that they are a valuable part of the situation and that they’re still your number one priority.”
Talk to your kids about their feelings. Let them ask questions, express their worries, and be honest with them. At the end of the day, you know your own child the best, and you know yourself the best. If it feels too quick or not right in any way, for you or for your child, trust that instinct. And in a co-parenting situation, always be sure that you are over-communicating your decisions in advance so that there is no confusion down the road as to what the facts may be.