People are gun shy after divorce. Neither men nor women have the desire to be hurt again or screwed over. Dating after divorce is not the same as dating when you don’t have an established life, and I don’t mean to say that young people don’t have an established life, but I couldn’t come up with an age or even an age range of when people have yet to have a full and complex life, other than to say young people. By that I mean that at a certain point, people have things going on. They have careers, children, homes, baggage and all of those things make it much more difficult to blend lives than when they were fresh out of high school or college and hadn’t yet put down roots.
Because people have experienced love before, they want to experience it again and they hope to find an even better love experience than before. It is easy to try to rush things, to move in too fast, to involve the children too fast and to forget to have important discussions about how this new blended life is going to work logistically.
One should never push the other person in the relationship to take things faster than they feel comfortable with. When you are excited about someone new in your life, it is easy to want to involve them with your children and extended family quickly and expect the same from your new partner. If you are both ready to do that, great, but if one person hesitates, let them get there on their own. It will be more meaningful when they do things because they had the desire to share that part of their life with you than it would be if they only agree to do it because they felt pressured to.
One word of caution about introducing new partners to children, think it through. Children can get very excited about their parent’s new boyfriend or girlfriend. They can also get attached to your new significant other very quickly. You need to be careful about setting your children up for repeated losses of significant people in their lives.
Another word of caution, make sure you know this new partner’s heart. You may think that you do, but it takes time to really know someone you are dating. Make sure that this is someone that can be trusted with your children. Abusers can be very charming and wonderful in the beginning of a relationship. It would be wise to date someone for a significant amount of time to see if there are any signs of abusive behavior or chemical dependency issues. These are things that you may not become aware of until several months into a relationship. Never risk your children’s safety on anyone!
I recommend taking relationship baby steps after divorce. Why rush and risk another relationship failure? In order to let a relationship unfold in its own way and its own time, you will need to communicate clearly and regularly about what happens and when it happens. Blending lives can be hard and if you cannot talk about the relationship early on, you will probably never be able to talk about the relationship. In a healthy relationship, you will be able to give the other person the space and time they need to fully commit to the relationship and it may not happen as quickly as you want it to, but when it does happen, it will be much more gratifying.
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