photo: Luis Quintero Pexels
Let’s say the dating thing worked out and you met someone fantastic, and you are so excited and cannot wait for everyone to meet him because he is so great! While it is true a happy parent can make for happy children, it is necessary to be conscious about how a new partner can affect the dynamics with your kids. Deciding when and how to make an introduction between your significant other and your children must be done in a thoughtful manner where there is balance between all concerned parties—this includes you, your children, your new man, and yes, even your ex.
Dating while Divorcing
Depending on when you last dated, the sheer idea of re-entering the dating world can be overwhelming. If you have a new man in your life but you are still wearing the wedding ring given to you by your current husband, then do not (under almost any circumstance) introduce your new paramour to your kids. I realize in many affairs, the children have probably already made the acquaintance of the person you might be thinking of introducing them to—it might be a neighbor, a family friend, or even the husband of your PTA nemesis. Regardless, never let your kids find out about this relationship before your husband does.
Timing Is Important
If you have already fled for divorce and are separated from your husband, then we are dealing with a somewhat cleaner area when it comes to your love life. While you may have some stage fright, and you might also feel you are in no way ready to think about a new relationship, the time may come when you meet someone with whom you feel you could have a future. However, realize that introducing the idea of a new dad to your kids could easily make your ex freak out. Realize that you can even significantly destroy a relatively cordial split by making your ex feel threatened by the fact some guy is taking his place in his family.
See the Situation through the Eyes of Others
No matter who was responsible for pulling the plug on your marriage, it is imperative that you take a step back and consider the situation through your children’s and your ex’s eyes. The idea of a new Mr. X fling a romantic void in your life could be disturbing to your ex and your children alike. Your kids have never seen you with anyone other than their father, and this could throw off their equilibrium.
In their thinking, if you have a new man in your life to replace their dad, does that mean you could have new kids someday too? In the children’s mind, you are their mom first, and anyone else should get their hands off! Remember that children can be just as possessive as your ex.
The Legalities of Dating Pre-divorce
One key issue to explore is where you are with custody and if there is the possibility of a custody fight presenting itself in the future. If there is the slightest chance of a custody dispute (meaning that a parenting agreement has not already been drafted and signed), I would strongly recommend no introduction be made to the person you have started dating. The last thing you need is your ex making it seem to a judge that you have poor judgment when introducing Mr. Rebound to your kids and letting him use the old toothbrush their father left behind.
A second consideration is specific language could be put into your separation agreement that any introduction to a significant other cannot occur unless the relationship has lasted for a certain amount of time. There can also be stipulations stating that if an introduction were to take place, the ex-spouse would be provided advance warning.