Raising a family together is hard work, and sometimes marriage and relationships don't survive. But splitting up when there are kids involved is even harder. Parent24's #dignifieddivorce series is here to help parents navigate the legal and emotional implications of a divorce.
Amongst other things, divorce can be one of the most traumatic events a person can go through, it leaves many people broken and bitter regardless of the reasons behind the ended matrimony.
It can leave children feeling confused and even finding ways to blame themselves.
According to the latest marriage and divorce report by Stats SA, four out of ten marriages end in divorce before their 10th anniversary, this is more reason to not feel like you’re alone in this, many people embark on this journey and it shouldn’t mean you can’t find happiness with someone new.
When you’ve mourned the loss of your marriage and are ready to slide into people’s DMs, there are some ground rules, below we list the Do’s and Don’ts of post-divorce dating for parents.
Must read: How to maintain a mature relationship with your spouse during the divorce process
First and foremost, make sure you are ready
Divorce needs to be treated like the loss that it is. Even if the reasons for the divorce are valid, you need to mourn the loss of your relationship and heal prior to going out there to search for love again.
How would you know you’re ready? When the idea of being with another partner doesn’t completely make you sick.
Set reasonable expectations
You need to create a clear picture in your head (even on paper) of what a happy and healthy relationship looks like FOR YOU, this means knowing what is expected of a potential partner in reference to your children, what relationship you would like them to have and what are deal breakers, and work towards attaining that, while taking into consideration that no one person will tick all the right boxes.
It would be unfair for someone to expect you to fit in their box of what perfect looks like, don’t expect that from someone else either.
Let your past be known - including your children
Many people feel that talking about what they went through in their past marriage shows that they’re not over it, that’s not completely true.
Talking about it will help your prospective/new partner understand your emotions and mostly know how best to handle your fears and insecurities.
Telling them you have children from the word go is important so they can express how they feel about it. The more you share about yourself, the easier it gets to find someone who shares the same sentiments.
Also read: "Alex and my kids are my everything": Jennifer Lopez and her new fiancé make life as a blended family look easy
Introduce the kids only when you are certain
Remember, you just came out of a long and possibly draining marriage, you don’t have to commit to the first guy you meet and most importantly, you don’t have to make your children easily accessible to all your potential partners.
Children get attached easily and the instability of them meeting new partners every 3 months might affect them negatively.
Don’t date for the wrong reasons
Sometimes jumping into something new feels like the quickest way to heal or because they are searching for a father/mother figure for their children.
Rebounds don’t end well. Being married for long can bring fears of loneliness, don’t give into those fears and find yourself settling because you don’t want to be alone or you’re afraid of raising your children alone.
Don’t punish everyone for your ex’s mistakes
Don’t fall into the trap of judging all potentials through the lenses filled with your ex’s errors. Not all guys are the same and not all of them are perfect.
Be open to starting over and doing it with someone new. Many divorcees use phrases like “my ex used to…” or “you’re exactly like my ex”.
This is not fair on your new partner, let them own their own mistakes and not carry the mistakes of others.
Also read: Date ideas for every kind of parent
Don’t make rash decisions out of excitement
You fall in love and decide he’s the one and next thing you know, you’ve agreed to marry him and you’ve moved in. Hold up! Take a breather.
It feels good to be head over heels with someone again but that could be the honeymoon phase, don’t make any rash decisions out of euphoria.
Don’t be oblivious to the fact that it’s a whole new ball game now
The dating scene has probably changed a lot since you were last single (depending on how long you were married for).
Mostly when it comes to safety, it’s important to know what to look out for, what are the new date rape trends, where is it no longer safe to meet dates etc.
Speak to other singles and find out what’s happening currently in the dating world. This will give you perspective.
Dating after a divorce can be scary, however, like going on a first date and getting a first kiss, it gets better with practice.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, allow yourself to start afresh and be open to learning. Your children definitely want you to be happy, so go out there and enjoy your newly found freedom.
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