How to Start Dating Again as a Divorcee With Kids

Getting back into dating after a divorce can be difficult, particularly if you have children. Here are some steps to help you on your way.

There’s no doubt about it: getting back into dating when you’re a divorcee with kids can be complicated and stressful. How soon should you start seeing other people? When should you introduce a new partner to your children? And how should you deal with their reactions?

“One of the major difficulties of dating as a divorcee is how to manage your children’s emotions once you’ve taken this step,” says Richard Parry, a Johannesburg-based clinical psychologist. “They may sit with feelings of betrayal fuelled by loyalty towards their other parent, or they may feel overly protective of you if your marriage ended in difficult circumstances. But with your help, your children will have to come to terms with these feelings. Your intimate life needs to go on after your divorce.”

As you start this journey, here are some important steps to bear in mind:

Take it slowly

Be careful not to rush into another relationship. Take the time necessary to heal and be aware of the time your children need to heal, too.

Talk to your children ahead of time

“It’s a good idea to start talking to your kids in advance about your intentions to date and see how they react,” advises Richard. “This will give them time to process the situation and to ask you questions about it.” Their responses might also give you a clearer understanding of what they’re experiencing during this time.

Manage the introductions

“It’s probably best to avoid introducing your kids to your new partner over the breakfast table the morning after your first sleep over,” warns Richard. “Rather, once you’ve been on a few dates with someone and it looks like the relationship might progress further, arrange a casual introduction that they’re both prepared for.” As an aside, it’s not necessary to introduce your children to – or even tell them about – every date you go on. Save the introductions for those relationships you suspect are getting serious, so that your kids don’t form many different attachments to people who may not be long-term features in your life.

Be realistic

Don’t expect everything to be smooth sailing. There may be some unexpected hiccups along the way: your children might become too attached to your new partner too quickly, or your partner’s attempts at winning them over might only succeed in pushing them further away. Finding a balance to this will take time and patience.

“Your children might have some difficult feelings about you dating again,” says Richard, “but ultimately, this shouldn’t discourage you.” By keeping the lines of communication open, and being honest and gentle with everyone involved, it is possible to find a way through this uncertain terrain.


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