By Sarah Williams
Jumping back into the dating game after a divorce can be challenging, especially if you have children. It might feel impossible, useless, or even embarrassing for some divorced moms to get back into the saddle. But it shouldn’t. In fact, dating as a single mom shouldn’t be any less exciting than it was before kids.
We are all deserving of love, or the possibility of love. We all deserve a second chance at a lasting relationship. We can’t let our pasts rob us of our futures forever. Your kids would want you to be happy, just like you want them to be happy. They may be too young to understand it, or too stubborn admit it, but it’s true. A happy mother makes a happy child.
With that said, the decision to start dating again shouldn’t be taken lightly. There are differences that will come along with dating after a divorce or having children. No, these things are not “baggage,” but they do still exist.
You’re no longer dating for just one. If and when a new relationship gets serious enough, you should have not only yourself in mind, but also your children, the respect of your ex-husband, and the courtesy of your new beau.
Here’s a short guide that might help you prepare and look forward to your return to dating as a single mom.
5 questions to consider before you start
1. Are you emotionally available?
It’s important to know when you’re ready, both mentally and physically. Jumping into a new relationship should not be a part of the grieving process, or a rebound. It might take time to get over the end of a marriage. It could take months, years or even decades. No matter how long it takes, you are the only person who can decide when it’s time to try again.
2. Do you have the proper amount of time to offer somebody?
It’s important to think about yourself when you start dating again; however, you can’t forget that somebody else’s feelings are involved, too. You don’t want to make them excited to see you again, and then never follow through. Even if you are truly busy, it can be a real let down for someone who only wants to get to know you better.
3. What are you seeking?
Are you looking for Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now? Are you looking for someone who is different from your ex-husband? You can look at your failed marriage in two ways: a traumatic loss, and waste of time OR a substantial learning experience.
You should have a much better understanding of what kind of person WOULD be right for you going forward. Take advantage of this. If you’re looking to eventually remarry, you have all the tools to get it right the second time.
4. What have you learned from your marriage and your divorce?
This goes hand in hand with #3. Not only should you consider things you wished were different about your ex, you should also think about ways that you could change in order to make a relationship work.
Answering this question will require a little owning up. Own up to your mistakes, if only to yourself. You ex-husband never has to know.
5. How can you use these bits of knowledge to help your next relationship?
Figuring out what you can change about yourself, or what you truly want, or how to enter into a new relationship with a clean slate, all of these things will help your future love life succeed.
Ways dating will be different
It takes more than two to tango.
When you’re single, you’re looking for a guy that is right for you. Now, you should be looking for a guy that is right for you and your family. This means he should be good with kids. He should share the same morals as you, especially if he’s going to play a role in their lives. You want him to teach your child in a similar manner as you do.
A potential suitor should also be accepting of the fact that you are bound to another man for life, since you share children. If they do not respect this relationship, it is certain to cause friction in the future. Overly possessive men should come as a red flag. (This type of man should be avoided even when you’re single, but that’s just my opinion.)
Casual dating, or one-night-stands, will never feel the same.
Especially with your kids’ stuff sitting around the house. You may feel guilty, or have more trouble getting aroused than you used to. It’s normal to feel that you’re cheating your children in some way. I’m not condoning casual sex or multiple one-night-stands. (I don’t even think that’s necessarily healthy for single people either.)
You just have to remember that apart from being a fabulous mother, you can still be a human being.
Reasons it can rock… if you rock it
Reason #1: You’ve got your shit together.
You’re no longer the confused, single girl who doesn’t know what the hell she wants out of life. You know what you want because you already have it. You have children, you’ve done the wife thing, you have a plan and a means of pursuing that plan. Now you just need someone to fit into it.
Dating as a single mom will be a lot less confusing for you now. Your desires are a lot more specific.
Reason #2: You have the opportunity to start new.
Telling your kids that you’re dating again can be terrifying. But once you do, having you help out in the process can be a beautiful thing. You will learn a lot about your children in the way that they can welcome (or cannot welcome) a new person into your lives. If they are stubborn to the idea, you have to remember they are only worried about what it might mean for your own relationship together. If they’re optimistic about the idea, they have your best intentions in mind, which is mature. Either way, you’ve raised them right.
Reason #3: You don’t have to listen to any “biological clock,” if you don’t want to.
And this could come as a real relief to a lot of single men out there.
Reason #4: There is no room for games anymore.
You play enough of those with your kids, and you can be stern about this with the men you’re dating. You’re too mature for nonsense, for waiting and wondering or beating around the bush.
You’re going to date like a boss. You’re going to date like a real woman. And I have no doubt in my mind that you’ll find someone great because of it.
Sarah Williams is a lifestyle writer who specializes in self-development and dating advice. She believes that happiness is a combination of a peaceful mind, self-discipline, and appreciating every day—just the way it is. You can read her articles at Wingman magazine.