Dating Advice from Hello Divorce
I could not be happier to have this amazing woman contributing to our blog today! If you’ve followed me for awhile, you know I am a HUGE fan of the folks over at Hello Divorce. They are transforming the way people divorce in all the best ways. Erin Levine wrote this incredibly helpful piece on dating after divorce and I know it will help those of you in this stage!
You may one day find yourself dating with kids. Or, maybe you’ve recently found yourself in the position of being the new girlfriend after your partner’s divorce. Or the new boyfriend. Or maybe you’re the one introducing a significant other to your ex.
Regardless: there are good ways to introduce a new partner when kids are involved, and bad ways.
Put Yourself in the Other Person’s Shoes
Think about it this way: if your ex met someone new – and things got serious – wouldn’t you want to be high on the list of people who knew? You’d certainly want to meet this person before your kids met them. And you’d probably want to talk through an approach to breaking the news to your kids together, so you’re singing from the same hymn sheet, in a way that reiterates to the kids that their family isn’t changing; it’s growing.
And once you do get together to meet, regardless of whether you’re the new partner, the ex meeting a new partner or the new significant other stepping in to the picture, this can be a sticky situation. Which is why it’s so important to approach this meeting with empathy, understanding and humility toward the situation and the other people involved. This is about your kids, after all. Regardless of how contentious your divorce may have been, the one thing that will never, ever change about your relationship with your ex is that you are the parents of your children.
Prepare for the Meeting
This is a meeting you’ll want to put some thought into. As the saying goes, there’s only one chance to make a good first impression. If you’re the ex introducing a new partner, you should spend time speaking with them about your goals for the meeting. And listen to their thoughts and concerns as well. Talk about your relationship as it will relate to the kids: will the new partner want to spend one-on-one time with the kids? Buy them gifts from time to time? Discipline, if necessary? These are good things to think about in advance, so you can speak openly with your ex about your new partner’s role when you meet.
If you’re the one meeting your ex’s new partner, you need to think about what you want, too. As the parent, are there concerns you want to be sure are on the table when it comes to the kids’ safety, health, and well-being? Is there something you’d like to ask remain your primary duty, like taking the kid(s) to ballet or soccer each week? Before your kids are left alone with the new partner for any reason, do you want first right of refusal? Do you want to be present when the new partner meets your kids for the first time?
At Hello Divorce, we’re alllll about helping our community reduce conflict. We know (because we see it time and again) that the more informed, empowered and empathetic a person can be both during and after divorce, the less conflict occurs. Which means less stress, and less heartache.
So, we developed a worksheet to help you plan for this first
meeting: Dating After Divorce – Introducing (or Meeting) a New Partner when Kids are in the Picture. It’s free, and it’s easy to download and print. We’ve pinpointed concerns that may be held from every perspective, to help you think through and then achieve what you want when it comes to meeting and then introducing a new partner to the kids.
Remember: At the End of the Day, This is About the Kids
Guess who’s watching your reaction and your behavior to see how they should act when they meet the new partner? (Spoiler alert: it’s your kids.)
If your kids see the adults playing nicely, they won’t feel they have to take sides. They won’t feel pressured to “adopt” one parent’s opinion of the new partner. They won’t feel internal conflict about what to do to keep both you and your ex happy.
Hopefully, they’ll feel loved, supported, and relieved that this new addition to the family is a positive change.