I’m newly divorced and getting back into the dating game. I have two kids, 7 and 3, and am wondering when’s the right time to introduce a new person to them. I think it should be right away, but my friends say I should wait until I’ve been dating someone for a few months, to keep them from becoming attached to someone that it doesn’t work out with.
This is all very confusing for me. What’s your advice?
You’re both right! Yes, you do need to practice caution, but at the same time YOU don’t want to become attached to someone who doesn’t work out with your kids. So how do you work around that?
What you ultimately want is a win-win-win situation. Win for you, because you find someone you’re compatible with. Win for your children, because the man you choose for your next relationship has shown he cares about your kid’s feelings and welfare. And win for him, because you’ve cleared the confusion about whether or not he’s a good fit in your family.
How can you figure out if everyone is winning before you get wrapped up in a relationship? Only time will tell, and that’s the key. You need to allow time for everyone to get to know each other before you commit to a relationship, otherwise you run the risk of someone in this scenario feeling like they’re losing.
You don’t want to risk losing a relationship with a guy you like just because he doesn’t understand how much time you need to spend focusing on your kids. You don’t want your kids to lose time with you because you feel divided. And you don’t want date someone who resents your kids, because he just doesn’t get your level of devotion towards them.
You need to know how everyone feels, including you, before committing to a relationship with someone. How do you go about accomplishing that? By having a “No kissing for three months” rule.
Because you’ll find out so much during that three month period. Does he appreciate me for who I am, even after the initial honeymoon period wears off? Do we work well together when it comes to making plans and decisions? Is he consistent and respectful in his attention towards me and towards my kids? Can he last three months in my life?
Do my kids like him? Does he like them? Do they like each other more after having known each other for three months? Or did that initial excitement die down because he started showing less patience towards them as time wore on? Does he respect my mothering? Or does he try to control my kids?
Does he respect the co-parenting relationship I have with the father of my children? Or does he show signs of insecurity and controlling behaviour?
These are all important questions you should have an answer to before you kiss someone, and the only way to get those answers is to introduce your date to your kids early on in the relationship.
So instead of introducing your kids to your new boyfriend (or whatever you’d want to call a guy you’re kissing “to see where it goes”) let someone who wants to date you know you’re not comfortable with the idea of kissing someone you don’t know, and see if he’s still interested in hanging out with you. If yes, that’s a great start.
Set the date for your first kiss, three months out, then have a three or four “dates” where you spend time together and get to know each other. If you like him after these initial dates then start spending time with him and your kids, and see how they get along. Stick to the three month rule and really spend this time observing everyone’s behaviour, including yours. The main question is, are you and your kids getting what you need from this person? Time, devotion, respect, and the kind of companionship that makes you all happy.
If no, then please don’t kiss this guy. He’s not only not right for you, he’s not right for your family. Break it off and move on.
If yes, that kiss at the three month mark will seal a relationship with someone who’s already shown he’s committed to your happiness, and your kid’s happiness too.
Chantal Heide is an Author and Motivational Speaker, focusing on dating and relationships. Her books Comeback Queen, Fake Love Need Not Apply, No More Assholes, After The First Kiss, and Fix That Shit are available on Amazon. View her BOOKS page for more information. Be sure to sign up for her mailing list to be eligible for free giveaways.