When you’re a divorced parent dating again takes on new challenges. Here are five areas that should be of major concern to you when making any decisions about finding a new love partner. Keeping this advice in mind will steer you in the direction of a healthier, more fulfilling relationship ahead.
1. You have children: mention them children early on.
When you’re a divorced parent, you come as a package with your children. Never lie about or keep that a secret. And don’t be apologetic about that fact either. It’s part of who you are and what you offer to your new relationship. You want a partner who will like and hopefully come to love your kids. So don’t start a dating relationship by pretending they don’t exist. The first few dates are not the time to talk excessively about your children. But always be forthright about them and their ages so there are no surprises in your budding new relationship. Never look at your kids as baggage; they’re an instant family for the right lucky person!
2. Be authentic about your needs and expectations.
Don’t pretend to be who you’re not. It’s tempting when you start dating to pretend to be someone different – to act more “polished” and sophisticated or interested in sports or other topics when you really aren’t. That’s a form of “bait and switch” — teasing your partner into thinking they are with someone you aren’t. Instead be real, share your authentic self and be proud of who you are — warts and all. They’re going to show up anyway, so why pretend to be different? You’d resent your partner if they did the same thing to you. Dating is a form of qualifying prospects for a future romance. If you don’t reveal the true you, you can’t attract a good fit for a meaningful relationship. Don’t waste your time or theirs. Be REAL!
3. Be aware of unresolved baggage from your past – and theirs.
Divorce can take its toll on you. And unresolved baggage from your past can easily sabotage a new relationship from both perspectives. So identify when you’re experiencing feelings of anger, hurt, pain, guilt, or disillusionment and accept these feelings as lessons learned. It then becomes easier to move on. Work on forgiveness issues, both with your ex and with yourself for having come from a “failed” marriage. Don’t stay stuck in the past. You can never move forward successfully if you’re looking or thinking backward. And you don’t want to choose a partner who isn’t fully focused on you, either!
4. Trust your intuition and red-flag warning signs.
Intuition is that part of you with knowledge vital to your well-being. This internal antenna continually sends you messages and if anything or anyone makes you feel uneasy don’t ignore it. In the past, you may have dismissed those inner warnings, but now you need to learn from your life experiences and not repeat old mistakes. So being cautious is okay. Just don’t be so hyper-fearful that you avoid good partner material and become afraid of commitment. At the same time, notice any uncomfortable behaviors that would be a sign of impending abuse. Jealously, too quick attachment, mood swings, anger issues, verbal threats or distorted accusations are the “red flags” that spell caution.
5. Be sure your expectations are realistic.
Are your demands about weight, age, height, financial success and other factors limiting your ability to find the right partner who will love and appreciate you? Now that you have true “life” experience, consider the importance of being flexible, objective and fair in your expectations. That way you won’t set yourself up for pain and disappointment next time around. You also won’t overlook great potential partners by putting more superficial qualities (looks, height, weight) ahead of the much more important ones (shared values, integrity, honesty, compassion, wisdom, mutual respect). Don’t look for Mr. Perfect. He doesn’t exist. Seek your Mr. Right and give him a chance to show you why he’s “the one!”
Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a Dating & Relationship Coach, Divorce & Parenting Coach and Founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network for parents. She is also the author of several books on divorce and parenting and dating after divorce. In addition, Rosalind is co-creator of the DatingRescue eCourse and Create Your Ideal Relationship Kit for women. Her free ebook on dating for single women is available at www.womendatingafter40.com.