Why “recoupling” can be more dramatic for your children than divorce.

Children often require time to process and adjust to the changes divorce brings into their lives. Introducing the prospect of a new relationship into the mix can be extremely challenging for children, no matter how old they are.

Consider that with recoupling, there may also be new “siblings,” a new home, new routines, and of course, a new step-person who is going to have his or her own parenting styles and views. 

So how can you start dating again without putting additional stressors on your children?

Keep these 3 tips in mind if you’re considering dating soon after your divorce.

  • As part of your custody agreement, settle with your soon to be ex-spouse on a waiting period before introducing a significant other into the children’s lives. This can be a negotiated provision in your custody agreement so that you and your ex-spouse are on the same page. You may also want to agree not to introduce non-significant others to the children.
  • If you are just “dating” and also have joint custody, spend your time with the children when they are with you and date when they are at your ex-spouse’s home. Then, the children aren’t involved in your dating life and their time with you is focused on you and them. If they are old enough to ask, you can handle date-related questions in an age-appropriate manner such as: “This person is someone who keeps me company when you are with your mom/dad.”
  • Take cues from your children. If they are old enough to understand the issues, respect their wishes and show empathy for their feelings. Ask them if they want to meet a new person. If they say “no,” try not to push. One comment I hear frequently when I represent children is that they want alone time with the parent, unencumbered by the new boyfriend/girlfriend. Respect their wishes.

For more tips and research done on dating after divorce, read my full article on the topic from Psychology Today, “Dating After Divorce.”

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