A common question about dating after divorce is how long to wait before starting to date. The answer is quite simple but it isn’t a set period of time; it’s when you’re ready.
My current guest, Kimberly was in her early forties when she got divorced and with a young daughter she was in no hurry to date. It was six years before she felt ready. Here’s Kimberly:
My youngest, my daughter was about 12 years old at the time, so I felt that I was ready because I had been working on myself for many years and I felt that my children were ready. My daughter was independent enough that I felt I could go out on dates and have a babysitter. So, it was a combination of their age and my moving on emotionally and I’m very happy to have had that time to spend with my kids and to do what I needed to do on myself.
Starting to date was a very conscious decision. As my children got older I felt that it would be nice to have a man in my life, so like a lot of women, I tried online.
This was maybe eleven years ago now so online dating wasn’t the big thing that it is today. There weren’t all the sites that there are today, so it was an experience. It was fun, especially at the very beginning, because again, I hadn’t been with a man for over six years. I went on this online dating site, posted my profile and before I knew it I had tons of men responding to me. And I as like, “Oh, my God.”
There were men from all over the world and I thought, “Are they nuts?” Men that were half my age. I just couldn’t get over it. It was great for my ego but at one point I thought, “This is crazy.”
Interestingly, the man I’m with now wasn’t online. I actually met him in person at a club and we’ve been together for ten years now.
I waited quite awhile before I introduced him to my children. I believe that you don’t want to introduce your kids to every person that you date, because you could see them for a couple of months and then never seem them again and children easily, especially at a young age, get attached. So, I don’t believe in introducing them to people that you’re dating, unless you feel that there’s a possibility for a long-term relationship here.
The children knew that I was seeing someone, because I would go out with him, but I didn’t introduce him to them until many months after. I don’t know how my son felt about it because he’s not much of a talker. My daughter didn’t like it, but I don’t think she would’ve liked anybody. It wasn’t just him. I guess it was difficult, because for six or seven years it had just been the three of us and now all of a sudden there’s this other person in the relationship. At the time, she was still struggling with her father not being around.
Today now, she loves him and he loves her and everything is good, but you have to take it slowly, you have to listen to your kids.
We had many conversations. She’d say, “How come you’re going out with him?” And I’d say, “Well sweety, you go out with your friends, so now it’s time for mommy to go out with her friends.” So, it was just a matter of taking it slowly, talking to my kids, listening to them and trying to alleviate their concerns, but in the long run it’s my life and they are also children and they’re not going to dictate to me how I can live my life as far as meeting men and there were times when I had to say, “I’m going out.”
For a long time, he would only spend the night when they were not home so when they had sleepovers or they were at grandmas. I think they’re much more interested in their peers’ experiences than they are in their parents when they’re teenagers. They can’t believe that once you’re past thirty that you still have sex! That’s only for young people.
He does see himself as my children’s step-dad and he did have reservations about that since he doesn’t have children of his own. We’ve both learned how it works, but for the longest time at the beginning it was difficult because he didn’t agree with the way I raised my children. To his mind, at the time, my understanding is that he didn’t want to lose me because of the kids, so he would back down or not say anything, realizing of course that they are my children.
Over the years, that’s changed a little bit, but in the long run it’s still my decision most of the time about the kids. He will have his input and a lot of times he will tell me what he thinks and not tell the kids and we will discuss it. I found it difficult that he didn’t even have kids of his own so how he could tell me how to raise kids?
We’ve actually gone for counseling, him which is interesting because my first husband wouldn’t but he will.
He’s a keeper.
I’ve met people who’ve said they intend to wait until their children are out of the house before they start to date and I think that unless this coincides with you feeling ready, this is an artificial deadline and probably indicative of some underlying fear about dating. I’ve also heard people say that they feel that they should start dating because of comments from friends and relatives. Again, my thought on that is ignore it. It’s about when you feel you’re ready.
And I wouldn’t worry about hiding your dating from your kids (but keep it age-appropriate!). It’s a perfect opportunity for you to model dating behavior and for your kids to learn from someone they love. It’s great to be able to call on your own experience when you’re talking to your teenagers!
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