A Mom’s Guide to Dating After Divorce

According to statistics, 1,000 people get divorced every day in the United States ALONE…WOW! That means fewer than 50% of first marriages end in divorce.  Now most of you out there reading this who might be married will probably gasp a little, and I do not blame you.  But those of you who are divorced might be doing a little happy dance right now at the thought of all those possible divorcees out there for the taking. But first, be forewarned, my friends. If you are recently divorced, or have been divorced for a long time, whether you are old or young/have kids or do not, entering the dating world can be a very exciting time in your life.   It also presents itself with some challenges that you should really think about before making the decision to jump back in and get into the dating driver’s seat.  You are going to feel scared, and at times, intimidated. But never let that hold you back in finding and meeting other people because, in turn, you will find out more about yourself along the way.  If you let it, it can be one of the most rewarding things that can happen to you.

Dating after divorce can be very overwhelming, but over the past five years, I have developed my own “Method to the Madness” for dating after a divorce. Here are some tips that have helped me in the dating scene, and some tips that have basically helped me in ALL of my relationships as well:

1.         WHO AM I AND WHAT AM I DOING?  –  Make sure you can answer these questions.  If you cannot, then you should not be dating anyone until you can.  DO NOT PASS GO and DO NOT COLLECT $200.   I cannot stress this enough to all of you.  Being able to re-establish your identity is PARAMOUNT to the success of any relationship you have or want to have down the road.  Whether you want to admit it or not, you lose yourself sometimes when you are in a marriage, and you need to take advantage of this time alone.  You need to take the time to re-discover who you are and what you like.   You need to make sure you are ready to move forward and know what you are looking for in a mate.  You never get a second chance on life, but sometimes, we do get a second chance on dating. TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE OF IT!

2.                  BE ACCEPTING BUT DO NOT SETTLE –   This one is very important.  Never let possible post-divorce loneliness, sadness or insecurity make you lower your standards when you start dating again.  Everyone deserves and has a right to be happy in life.  Be respectful of what it is that you want, and be proud of who you are and what you can offer a person.  This is one of the most challenging but rewarding tasks you can achieve.  Believe in yourself and others will follow. 

3.                  DON’T DISH THE DIRT AND TRY AND LET GO OF THE PAST – It is important to not discuss your ex on your dates.  It is within reason to discuss your divorce, but you do not need to become the Daily Gazette with all the dirty details on your date. This tip is extremely important, especially if you were recently divorced or it was a messy or sticky situation.   I am not going to lie and say you will not be tempted to talk about the details on what went wrong, or who did what to whom and how and when, etc.  It is important that you try to resist the temptation and focus on the person across the table from you instead.

4.         PROCEED WITH CAUTION!!!!   IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN, TAKE YOUR TIME AND INTRODUCE THEM TO YOUR PARTNER SLOWLY!  –  I find this tip invaluable in every possible way.  My son adores my boyfriend, but we waited and took our time before we introduced him.  You need to be able to identify your relationship and what you are as a couple FIRST before you bring your children into the picture.  It can be an incredibly stressful situation for all involved, and timing is everything when bringing your children into your new relationship.   Make sure you give your children enough time to be able to adjust to the new changes on their own.  Do not ever force your child to accept the relationship, but also do not let your child call the shots on who you do or do not date.  It is important to have a healthy balance in this situation.

5.         TAKE YOUR TIME, STAY POSITIVE AND ABOVE ALL, ENJOY YOURSELF –   We all know that divorce can leave you with baggage, and we have to stay positive and believe that someone out there has that “matching set of baggage” just for us to make a complete luggage set.  It is very important to take your time and have fun with it.  This is a time of re-discovery for you in so many areas of your life, and it would only benefit you to live life to the fullest and be confident in what you can bring to a relationship. 

6.         IF ALL ELSE FAILS, THERE IS ALWAYS WINE AND CHOCOLATE –  Of all the tips out there, this is the MOST IMPORTANT AND VALUABLE ONE!!!  Well, not really — but I have benefited from this one a time or two myself.

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Divorce. Protect the Kids, They’ll Thank You.

Retro MomThose of you out there who have children will agree with me that raising your child has to be one of the most rewarding, yet difficult things you’ll ever do.  We all know how stressful bringing up children can be when you are married, but it is just as difficult, and at times even more so, when you and your spouse get divorced.    

Having been divorced for over five years now and raising an eleven-year-old child, I have developed my own tricks of the trade for raising children with your ex-spouse.  These tricks do not always involve drinking a box of wine, eating an entire bag of peanut butter cups and counting to 10 very slowly (okay, sometimes 100!) It is not always perfect but there are ways in which to make it easier for both you and your ex and more importantly, for your children. 

 Here is my own David Letterman “Top Ten List” for raising children with an ex spouse.  Well, it is actually a “Top Five List,” but who’s counting?

 Tip Number 1 – Put yourself in your child’s place ALL THE TIME –       The most important thing that you need to remember is the well-being of your child. He/she did not choose the decision you made to get divorced, so he/she should never suffer the aftershocks of it as either.  Before you say or do something that involves your ex, think about it from your child’s point of view and put yourself in his/her place.  Always remember that there are consequences for your actions.

 Tip Number 2 – No Monkey in the Middle!   –     Your child should never be in the middle of any argument between you and your ex.  It is very important to NEVER use your child as a pawn to make the other one upset.  You must put your differences aside (and trust me, you will have them) and ALWAYS put your child first!

 Tip Number 3 – Leave the boxing gloves at home! –  If you run into issues where you and your ex do not see eye-to-eye, then find a convenient time when your child is not around to talk about them.  Try to find a time when your child is in school, asleep, or even while he/she is outside playing.  You can take those opportunities to work out your differences, and try to come to an agreement without the chance of your child overhearing. 

Take the gloves off, in front off the kids

Take the gloves off, in front off the kids

 Tip Number 4 – If you cannot say anything nice then do not say anything at all – This is one that I feel is very important.  You should never talk ill of your ex-spouse in front of your children.  It does not matter how upset they make you or how furious you are with them, you always need to take the high road.  Your son/daughter needs to develop his or her own relationship with each of you, and berating each other only hurts you, and ultimately, your child.

 Tip Number 5 – Try to put yourself in your ex’s shoes – This tip has definitely helped me in times of turmoil.   It is common for both married and divorced couples to disagree on different areas of raising the children.  Heck, plenty of couples argue about everything from what kind of shoes to buy the kids to which colleges they should apply.  But, it’s important–whether married or divorced– to presented a united front.  You are always going to have differences of opinion, the key is to consider your ex’s point of view.  If you can have a healthy relationship with your ex, in the end, it will benefit everyone. 

Again, your child didn’t choose your spouse and the split certainly wasn’t your child’s fault, so they should never have to suffer for those decisions.   Once you have that mindset in place, chances are it will make things much easier for everyone…and your child will thank you down the road.  Mine has…

Divorce cartoon

My son drew these.

Divorce Cartoon 2

Kids notice everything

 

Do you come from a broken home, or are you a divorced mom?  I’d love to hear how you handled the turmoil with your kids or how your own upbringing affected your adult relationships.  Leave me a comment below and let me know your thoughts!

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