DATING IN THE WORLD OF DIVORCED DADS
by Debbie Martinez
Let me sum this up in two words, “Not easy.” Being a divorced dad is not easy, then throw in dating and as a client of mine said, “I’M DONE!” After careful evaluation of his last few dates and his mindset going into the dating world, we made some much-needed adjustments. No more frat boy mentality or letting the kids ‘drive your bus’.
Here’s the caveat. Every situation is different and to be honest, I could write an entire article on each and every one below but given the constraints of space, I have provided just some ‘food for thought’.
So, here goes:
#1. Letting your children dictate your dating life is a big mistake. Listen, most kids will be resistant to their dad dating for various reasons, but not to date because little Jimmy throws a tantrum as you walk out the door will land you in the World of Loneliness.
#2. Guys, kids and women get attached. Be sure you have strong feelings for someone before you bring them into the family fold. This is only fair to both your kids and the woman.
#3. This one is a biggie, so listen up. Spend time with your children without your new paramour. Kids need one on one time with you and even though you might think you are giving them attention when you all are together, kids see it differently.
#4. It’s understandable that the heart wants what the heart wants and typically that is time with your lady friend, but tread lightly. If you have always taken your son to a basketball game and now you start taking her in his place, guess who is going to be hurt and not feel like a priority? If you want to take her, take her another night.
#5. Be sensitive to the fact that the woman you’re dating has children also. Navigating that minefield can be exceedingly frustrating, but be patient and keep things in perspective. Communication is of utmost importance on this one.
#6. Acknowledge that being a divorced dad you cannot be all things to all people. There will be times that you have to choose your priority. Be at peace with that.
#7. There is nothing wrong in wanting to have time to yourself or with your friends. Take it. You need it.
#8. In a marriage, it’s easy to lose yourself. Now that you are divorced, find the person you lost and be honest with your dates about who you are. Don’t be who you think she wants you to be.
#9. I know being a divorced dad equates with having several balls up in the air at the same time and then throw dating into the mix and you’re looking for short cuts to make life easier. Enter the world of texting. I believe texting has its benefits, but when you are newly dating someone, please don’t text “good night.” Pick up the phone.
#10. Be romantic. Be spontaneous and be open to new things. Enjoy this second chance to love and be loved. Oh and guys, be a gentleman. (It’s amazing what opening a door will do for a woman).
#11. It’s OK and at times necessary to share information about your ex, but an entire dinner date? I recognize that if you are newly divorced your ex can still be very much on your mind, but try to keep it to yourself. If you constantly feel the need to talk about her, it might be a sign you haven’t let go and you’re not emotionally ready to date.
#12. Take stock of yourself. Do you need to get to the gym? Update your haircut or wardrobe? Expand your circle of friends and/or interests? New life, new you.
Remember, you are not just a dad but also a single guy with an exciting chapter ahead of you. Make the changes necessary to step onto your new path with confidence both as a dad and a boyfriend.