Starting to date again after separating from your child’s father can be extremely intimidating. As the middle (wo)man, you may feel a lot of pressure to make sure things go perfectly. Well, put that referee whistle away—these tips will make it an easier transition for all parties involved.
- Start preparing your child as soon as you’re ready to re-enter the dating scene. Throughout the entire process, communication is essential for a successful transition, so make sure that by the time you find someone that you see as a potential romantic partner, you already started to mentally ease your child into the situation. Let them know that sooner or later, you may meet someone that will become a big part of both of your lives. Promote an open dialogue—be sure that they are away that they have a say in the situation as well.
- Ensure that your kids know that no one will replace their dad. A lot of the issues that stem from this situation are because of a confusion of loyalties on the child’s part. Make sure they know that there’s no competition between their dad and any guy you end up with. They may become defensive, but this is why communication is so important—it’s okay to let someone new into their lives. They don’t have to choose who they love more and there will be no hurt feelings. It would be even better if you could get their father on board as well. Have the two of them sit down together and have a conversation about the situation. Just be sure you talk to your ex first and that there are no hard feelings about you dating again.
- Do your research on guys before letting them in. Make sure you know who this guy really is before any introductions. Lucky for us, we don’t need to do much digging to find dirt on someone these days. Thanks to Google, all it really takes is typing a name and location or phone number to get some extra information. Do a quick search on the guy and make sure no red flags come up. Check his social media. Go full out stalker-mode if you must—you can never be too safe when it comes to who you bring into your kids’ lives.
- Make sure it’s serious first. Your life should never come with revolving doors, and that’s especially true when there’s a child involved. Take your time and don’t rush into anything. Make sure you truly see potential in this relationship before you even consider introducing the guy to your kids. The fewer partners you introduce your child to, the easier the transition will be for them. Date each other for a couple months before you make any rash decisions.
- Talk to your new guy to make sure he knows what he’s getting into. Verify that he knows what he is getting himself into. Let him know how important this step is to you and ask him if there are any hesitations. See where HIS head is at. Make sure you’re both on the same page—you definitely don’t want any surprises. Come up with a game plan that works for the both of you. Let him know about your child and see what they have in common so they can bond over it. Set the situation up for success.
- Don’t make it a big deal. Children feed off of your vibes. If a baby falls and hits their head and you panic, they’ll be sure to cry. This is kind of the same thing—if you hype the situation up too much, your kid will be more stressed about it. Try a group setting somewhere neutral, with others that your child may already know and be comfortable around, and be sure to…
- Introduce your partner as a friend. This keeps things light. There are fewer expectations when it’s “Mom’s friend” as opposed to “future step-dad.” Let each party learn about each other without pressure. This also is a security blanket in case things don’t work out right away —it’ll be a lot less disappointing for your little one.
- Afterwards, talk to both individuals separately. Talk to your new guy. Ask him if anything has changed and if he still wants to move forward in the relationship with you and your child. Talk to your child and ask him what he thought of your new friend. Remember—communication is vital. Be sure to listen and let them both know how important their opinions are to you.
- Let things grow in their own time. All good things take time. Relationships don’t blossom overnight. Let the two of them get to know each other. Don’t try to force it, just let things come naturally. When the chemistry is there and the timing is right, let your child know that your friend is actually a little more than that. Don’t be afraid to be affectionate—your child will want to see that you’re being treated with love. Hopefully, by that time, the relationship between the two of them will have grown and they’ll be happy to hear the news.