Divorce can be a testing and upsetting time for anybody who has to go through it, and the situation becomes even more difficult when you put children and their custody settlements in to the equation. If you have found yourself in the life situation of being a single father with prime custody of your kids, then the thought and prospect of getting back in to the dating game is daunting. Even when you feel ready it can be a much trickier process to navigate than in your younger days. Back then there was nothing like the complications and potential baggage that comes with being a single father.
There are many more factors to consider now including the thoughts and feelings of your children, the lingering presence of an ex wife and mother, and the ultimate willingness for your new potential partner to become involved a situation that might be very complicated. However, it can absolutely be done and done well, so read through these dating tips for single dads wanting to get back on the market. Where exactly should you start?
Make Sure You Are Ready
The key element of getting back in to the dating game is make sure that you are absolutely ready to leave the memories of your previous relationship behind and move forwards in hope of new love. It isn’t particularly fair on any potential partner if you still suffer from emotional baggage related to your ex wife/partner. Of course, this does not mean that you have to completely let go of all memories of your marriage, but you need to ask yourself if you are just looking for a shoulder to cry on rather than a woman to begin a new loving relationship with.
1. Put Your Children First
Remember that you have many more important responsibilities since the last time you were dipping in the dating pool. Women might come and go, but the one thing that will always be a constant is your children and their feelings. Make sure that you always put them first no matter what. Being a single father means that they really are all you have and they need your undivided attention when it is required. It is also important to ask your kids about the woman you are seeing. If they like her then that’s perfect, but children are very perceptive and very sensitive, so if they harbor negative feelings towards the woman you are dating then the problem will only intensify with time.
2. Be Honest With Your Kids
Do not try to hide your dating from your children. They will have been through a tough enough time with the breaking up of the family home and they will not appreciate an air of secrecy permeating through both their new living situation and their relationship with their father. Children tend to imagine the worst when they do not know the truth, so keeping an open slate with them with regards to women that you are seeing will give them some much needed security in the sense that they will be part of your inner circle. If they demand to know why you are seeing somebody that isn’t ‘mommy’, then try your best to explain to them. Always be open to discussion; shutting them out of this part of your life might lead to them shutting you out of theirs.
3. Own Your Divorce
In order for you to be able to truly move on and open yourself up romantically to another person, you need own your divorce. In other words, accept the part that you had in the dissolving of the marriage and make your own peace with the outcome. If you dive head first in to the dating game with a huge chip on your shoulder relating to your ex wife, it will no doubt have a negative impact on the sort of dating companion that you are going to be. If you still find yourself thinking about the results of your divorce and your ex-wife on a regular basis, it could be an indication that you are not ready to leave that part of your life behind yet.
4. Talk About Your Past Respectfully
There is a pretty high chance that at some point or another, your new date is going to ask about your past. It is important on these occasions to talk about your ex wife and your marriage with respect. This does mean you have to lie, but you have to show your date that you can address your past in a mature way that does not have to descend in spite and anger towards different people. Holding a grudge is not a good look, and anybody you start to date will much prefer to see a measured response to a question about your previous circumstances than a hate-filled one.
5. Take It Slow With The Kids
Once your new relationship becomes serious enough, it will be time to introduce your new girlfriend to your children. This introductory process is arguably the most important step in the relationship, so make sure to take it slow and not overwhelm either the kids or the girlfriend by pushing for too much too soon. Start with small five minute meetings either before or after a date. If the kids seem to take it well then perhaps arrange a night for her to stay at the house and take it from there. Always remember though that your home needs to be your children’s safe haven and they need to feel at their most comfortable in their own home. Make sure they that are happy for your new partner to be around as much as she is, and if they say no, then you need to reassess the situation and adjust arrangements accordingly.
Overall, the entire process of dating when you are a single dad relies on a fine balance between respect for your children, respect for your past and respect for your new girlfriend. It can be hard, but it can be done.