Every single parent deserves love and you need to make sure your children respect and understand that your love life is essential to their happiness.
Studies show that without love and intimacy in your life, you increase your chances of becoming ill by 35 percent. If your previous marriage or relationship wasn’t good, that’s all the more reason for your next relationship to be the right one and a healthy one.
I understand that you worry about how and where to meet someone new. And once you do meet someone, you fear how your family and children will react to a new partner, and how you can avoid repeating the same mistakes from your last relationship or previous marriage. These beliefs, emotions, and concerns are not unique.
Here are my smart tips for dating as a single parent.
Do date. Talk to your children and explain to them why you are dating and that no one will ever replace their other parent. Tell them that they are your first priority and you will always be there for them. Your children may not love the fact that you are dating again, but at some point (and that time differs for each person and the age of your children), you need to get back to enjoying life and relationships. If you are happy and balanced, you will be a better role model for your children.
Don’t introduce your children to your dates, until you think the relationship is going somewhere. You may have one-time meetings or dates with people that don’t go anywhere or don’t develop into relationships. You shouldn’t hide the fact that you are dating from your children, but only get them involved and attached when you feel it is a serious relationship.
Find a good sitter. If your children are young, be sure to locate a good sitter or family member to watch the kids when you go out. When you go out, the goal is for them to look forward to spending time with someone they trust and like. Alternatively, you can schedule your dates for those weekends or nights that your children may be staying or visiting their other parent.
Do not tell everything. Many people make the mistake of telling too much information to a date, especially early on in the dating process. Sharing personal details—like why your marriage didn’t work, struggles with your ex-partner, or your children’s woes—is fine after you have spent time together, but they sound like red flags and are overwhelming to another person if revealed too soon. When revelations are necessary, make them as brief and neutral as possible. If this person is right for you, there will be plenty of time to unfold.
Do not rush judgment. It is almost impossible to make a sound decision about someone on the first date. Sure, sometimes the chemistry is so lacking that you know immediately you could never have sparks, but usually it takes a while for a connection to develop. You want to be open and honest from the start that you have children, but don’t spend the entire first few dates trying to figure out if he or she might be a good step-parent.
Dr. Terri Orbuch (aka The Love Doctor®) is a relationship expert for OurTime.com, as well as a professor, therapist, research scientist, and author of 5 best-selling books, including “Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship,” available at amazon.com. Learn more about her at: DrTerriTheLoveDoctor.com.