Dating after divorce


Heart on a computer keyboardYou've dated before, of course. But that might have been a long time ago. And also, from now on it will be different - because the presence in your life of children changes (almost) everything about romance. So here's advice from Mumsnet on dating after divorce.

When to tell your new partner that you're a parent

Do you tell a new date straightaway that you're the mother (or father) of two small kids? Or should you wait a while, to establish 'you' before you let on that there are children as well?

It's an individual decision but, in general, it's best to be as open and honest as possible from the start. After all, your children are the most important thing in your life, right? So how long does anyone realistically get in a new friendship without the most important thing in her life cropping up? Five minutes? Or more like two?

When to tell your children about your new partner

So it's really important to be open and honest with the new man who's (maybe) in your life, but you don't need to be, indeed you probably oughtn't to be, too open and honest right now with the kids. 

"Spend a small amount of time together doing something really easy and straightforward like having lunch, and, if the children seem willing, try to let them have a few minutes alone with your new partner to discuss something that interests them - my younger stepson gave me a marbles lesson the first time we met." Anna8888

Depending on how long it's been since the break-up, you don't want to unsettle them, or to undermine the stability they're starting to rebuild - and it's especially important that you don't subject them to a procession of new 'uncles' who, however much fun they may be, could suddenly disappear from their lives.

Your children are already dealing with a major upheaval. The last thing you want is to cause them further confusion.

Until someone is  so special that you're starting to think it really will last (and for posters on Mumsnet, that has sometimes been two years plus dating time) keep your new partner and your children apart.

What to tell your children about your new partner

If things are going somewhere then, sooner or later, you'll have to tell your kids something about what's happening.

But bear in mind their ages, and be sensitive to the fact that this information could throw up all sorts of issues for them.

If you've got:

  • Young children: tell them you have a 'new friend' (no more information required) and that you're going out to see them. Reassure them that you'll be back soon. 
  • Older kids: "I'm going to have supper with a man I've met. I'll be out for a few hours, we're having dinner, and then I'll be home. It's good for all of us to have special friends outside our family - I know you have those, too." 
  • Teens: "I've met someone and I'm going out for dinner/a drink with him on Friday. What are your feelings about me dating again, do you want to talk about it?" (Don't ask for their permission and, equally, don't get pulled into discussing your date in the same breath as they discuss their dates. You're their mother, not their friend - even if you are both dating new people.) 

If you're feeling a bit out of your depth, then the massed wisdom of Mumsnetters on the Relationships Talk board will help keep you buoyant.


Last updated: almost 6 years ago