Welcome to the EmLovz Dating After Divorce for Men Guide. In this guide, I’ll detail the different strategies you can use when it comes to telling your kids about your new girlfriend and the best ways to go about introducing them to each other.
But before I go into the different ways to make this process comfortable for all parties, let’s delve a bit deeper into dating after divorce and the importance of readiness.
Dating After Divorce for Men: Taking the Plunge
Dating after divorce can be scary, to say the least. Along with the legal intricacies that come with separation, finalizing a divorce and custody arrangements, a divorce can be downright traumatizing. You made what you thought was a lifelong commitment to someone and it didn’t work out. Even if the decision to divorce was mutual and amicable, experiencing different stages of grief is a normal and necessary part of divorce.
But if you’re reading this guide, that tells me that you have either taken the plunge and found love again in a new relationship or that you are interested in getting back out there in the dating world.
Just because your marriage didn’t work out doesn’t mean you should resign yourself to a life of bachelorhood. Remember that a divorce is not a failure. Every relationship is a risk and you should be proud that you allowed yourself to be vulnerable and intimate in the greatest of ways by walking down the aisle. Moreover, your relationship resulted in the wonderful child or children you share with your former partner.
Everyone deserves love and, more importantly, everyone can find it more than once. I learned this during my 100-date experiment, back when I doubted if love even existed. Since then, I have helped men across the world (including divorced dads) find love.
However, when it comes to dating after divorce for men, it’s important to take inventory of your readiness to enter a new relationship. Ask yourself a few questions.
Question #1: How Divorced Are You?
Has your divorced been finalized or are you legally separated? If you are legally separated, that means that you are still technically married. If that’s the case, it is best that you wait to reenter the dating world until everything is final.
Not only can there be legal implications to getting intimate with someone else while you are separated, but dating during this time can make things complicated in several different ways:
- As your children adjust to the divorce, they may find it odd and abrupt if you have a new girlfriend.
- Consider that your ex may be hurt or upset by this and you still have to go through court proceedings and other processes with her. Your rapid rebound could make the situation even more uncomfortable.
- Women are typically not going to want to date men who are still married, even if they’re legally separated.
- A lot of things can arise during a separation that is unexpected and upsetting. A new relationship can make dealing with these things even more stressful, as your attention is being pulled in multiple directions.
- Your new girlfriend may feel uncomfortable over this, even if she wants to continue a relationship. Basically, dating while separated will almost invariably cause a rocky start to any relationship.
Question #2: Have You Healed From Your Divorce?
There isn’t a general timetable when it comes to healing from a divorce. Take your time to grieve your marriage and be sure that you have accepted it and are fully ready to move on before diving back into the dating pool.
If you feel like your confidence is shattered, if you’re still feeling anger and sadness toward your ex, and/or if you’re completely unsure of whether or not you should start dating, you’re probably not ready.
Give yourself the time you need to heal and regain confidence in yourself before moving forward with someone else.
Remember to Give Your Children Time as Well
It may go without saying, but your children will also need time to adjust to the divorce. Even if you follow all the necessary steps and you and your ex-spouse are completely on the same page when it comes to co-parenting and keeping things amicable, divorce is difficult for children of any age.
Practice patience and compassion as they adjust to this new dynamic. Family and individual counseling can be a great benefit to helping your children, yourself and your ex-spouse move forward.
Pace Your Relationship
Ok, so you’ve moved on from your marriage and you are ready to start dating or have been dating. That’s great and congratulations. You’ve met a wonderful woman and can see the potential for a future.
Dating after divorce can be nerve-wracking but it can also be extremely exhilarating. After the dissolution of a marriage, the chance of romantic happiness once again is amazing, particularly if your divorce left you extremely cynical about the dating landscape.
Now that you have opened the door to meeting new people, you’re elated to take things to the next level with a special woman. However, don’t let this elation rush your relationships. It’s important to pace things so that you can fully understand whether or not this woman is a good fit for you and your family. One way you can do this is by following my failproof dating blueprint.
I designed this blueprint for the first three dates, which are crucial when it comes to deciding whether or not to be exclusive with someone.
EmLovz Dating Blueprint: First Date
The purpose of the first date is to build trust and rapport through shared interests. Find something that appeals to both of you and is creative, but isn’t going to take more than an hour.
Along with keeping this date at a time limit, you should choose something that costs no more than $15.
Keep things light and fun. A first date isn’t one where you need to pour out your heart and showcase your vulnerability. And above all else, it’s important to avoid first date sex. Getting intimate on the first date can lead to two things:
- A rushed relationship with someone you aren’t sure is compatible with you
- The end of a relationship before it even began
When you have sex too early in a relationship, the level of intimacy involved — both physically and emotionally — along with the rush of chemicals that flood your brain during and after sex make things confusing. You and your partner may feel an intense connection before you’ve truly gotten to know each other, which can lead to a whirlwind romance with someone who turns out to be wrong for you and your kids.
Conversely, having sex too soon can also lead to awkwardness and regret. The woman may worry that you were just trying to sleep with her or subsequent interactions can end up feeling off because you jumped into bed without getting to know each other.
Bottom line: Just don’t do it on the first date.
To assess whether or not the person you’re on a first date with could be a good match for you and for help appropriately pacing the date, check out my article on Top 25 Questions to Ask a Girl on a First Date.
The purpose of the second date is to escalate sexual tension. Now that you’ve learned more about this person it’s time to see if the chemistry can build in a way that would merit a potential relationship. That’s why the second date should be something active and free.
Most local tourism websites and newspapers will have a calendar of free events that are unique to your area. If you’re on social media, platforms like Facebook have local event listings as well.
For more ideas, check out my top 18 physical second date ideas plus 30 other second date ideas that’ll knock your date’s socks off. But to help you get started, here are a few free date ideas that don’t require wealth to woo a lady.
- Go hiking
- Visit a museum
- Have a picnic at the beach or a local park
- Go on a brewery tour
- Find a free concert
- Sample foods at a farmers market
By the third date, it’s time to get more intimate. Plan a romantic dinner for the two of you. This is where you can assess whether or not the two of you are a good fit as far as morals and values go, which will help you decide if this woman will mesh well with your family.
You can also show more vulnerability during third date conversation. If you need guidance on this, check out my article on Top Third Date Questions for Relationship Oriented Men.
Finally, this probably goes without saying, but don’t host an adult sleepover at your home when your kids are there. Because physical intimacy often occurs on the third date, select a night when your ex has the kids or that they are at a friend’s home. Don’t get a babysitter for the night that you plan this date.
You don’t want your children feeling neglected or confused about you disappearing during a night with them to go on a date.
When Dating After Divorce Challenges You
Putting yourself back out there after getting divorced is a challenge all on its own. But what about when you’re out with women and they voice some concerns over your situation? What do you do when the women your dating keep saying that your situation seems complicated?
These kinds of questions can be disheartening and even confidence-shattering. It can leave you insecure and tempted to retreat from the dating scene. But remember that if women are having serious issues with you being a dad (i.e., they consider it a dealbreaker or become super judgmental about it), it’s likely due to an issue they have with themselves.
If the idea of dating someone with children literally makes a woman upset or if she refuses to talk about anything other than your status as a dad, this is not a woman you want to be dating. Moreover, if a woman exhibits red flags like anger and extreme jealousy, you don’t want to bring that negative energy around your kids.
On the other side of the coin, there are going to be good, quality women who make excellent partners, but still have some questions for you. These questions can include things like:
- What is your relationship with the mother of your children? A woman is likely going to want to know this so she can be prepared for any potential stress a rocky relationship could cause her if you two become serious. She may want to know if your ex is aware that you’re dating or if this is something that could potentially blindside them. Maybe in the past, she even experienced the wrath of an upset ex-spouse and doesn’t want to go through that again.
- Are you sure you’re ready for a new relationship?
- Even though you have children of your own, are you open to the idea of having more? She may want to have children of her own someday and you need to keep this in mind when it comes to settling down with someone new.
Does this seem overwhelming? Don’t worry, a little preparation can take you a long way.
How do I manage this (divorce with kids) in a way that the new woman I’m dating feels safe? When to tell the kids you’re dating? When to introduce your girlfriend to your kids? How do you balance your kids feelings with the feelings of the woman you’re dating? What to do when the women you’re dating keep saying that your situation seems complicated.
Before you go out on a date, it’s important that you are prepared to overcome objections.
Make a list of every objection you’ve either heard or can anticipate before going on a date. From there, write out your response. As long as you can explain your situation well (and mean it), you’ll be able to overcome many objections that might otherwise throw you off if you weren’t prepared to explain them.
Think about what you would say to this woman if she asked you specific questions about your situation. Don’t make any question off limits or refrain from coming up with an answer to something wild (i.e., “Are you and your children actually superheroes like the people in The Incredibles?” You laugh, but it COULD happen).
Once again, remember that divorce and being a single parent are two extremely common things here in America. You have nothing to be ashamed of and being a single parent shouldn’t render you completely self-conscious in the dating world. Moreover, it’s important to remember the things that you can bring to a relationship that is of value.
Write a Transparent Self-Summary
Before your date, write a transparent self-summary that hangs a lantern. What I mean by this, is think of all the objections you are worried a woman will have when dating you or reasons you have convinced yourself that you’re not an attractive partner.
Upend that negative self-talk by writing all the things you have to offer, your good qualities, what a good father you are and the reasons that you are an amazing person to hang out with, enjoy a fun night with and even be serious with.
Consider how you can add value to a woman’s life and bring her the things that she needs.
Wait to Introduce Your Girlfriend to Your Children
When it comes to dating after divorce, you will learn that patience is a virtue in a myriad of ways.
As you get more serious with a woman and enjoy the intoxicating feelings that come with newfound love, you may feel anxious to introduce her to your kids. But it’s critical that you select a time to introduce her that is comfortable for all parties involved.
Furthermore, what may seem like a great relationship during the first couple months of dating can quickly devolve into something unpleasant. When you’re infatuated with someone, it can be easy to miss red flags or characteristics about the person that won’t blend well with you and your kids.
Avoid a Revolving Door
You also want to avoid a revolving door issue while dating after divorce. Remember that, even if the woman you’re dating is practically perfect in every way, your children aren’t necessarily going to share your excitement.
And when you introduce a woman too soon, you’re liable to keep introducing new girlfriends, which is going to make things even more difficult for your kids to understand.
There are no guarantees when it comes to relationships. Wait until things have become serious with your new girlfriend (perhaps after the exclusive talk) and the initial giddiness that comes with the honeymoon phase has worn off. If you can seriously see a future with this woman and feel like she is in alignment with your values, your kids and anything else that is an important part of your home life, you can plan an introduction.
Talk to Your Kids Before You Introduce Your New Girlfriend
Before you even plan an introduction, you should sit down with your children and let them know that you are dating. Assure them that they are always your first priority and that no one can ever take their place. However, let them know you are ready to include a new, special adult in your life and have started dating. When things become serious, let them know this as well.
Tell them you are feeling happy with this person and it’s something you have wanted- as all adults do, but that they are still the number one priority. Finding romantic love with a new girlfriend in no way means that they have to compete for your affection or that this relationship somehow takes away from your love for them.
Let Your Kids Have the Floor
When talking to your kids about your new girlfriend, give them the floor to ask any questions they may have or to voice any concerns. Keep in mind that they may feel insecure, hurt or upset over your newfound love. Offer them a space of compassion, patience, and kindness where they can feel safe letting you know how they feel without having to worry over any repercussions or making you upset.
The most important thing is to reassure them that their fears about losing you or being replaced are not going to come true.
The Introduction: Get Feedback From Your Kids
When it comes to the actual introduction, you don’t want to make the meeting a huge, drawn out ordeal that takes place at your home or in an intimate setting. Plan something like a lunch during the daytime where you can keep things light and fun.
You can also ask your kids what they would prefer when it comes to meeting your new girlfriend:
- What’s the ideal time for them?
- If they had to choose, how would they envision the first meeting going?
- What are there concerns with the first meeting?
If your new girlfriend has children as well, it’s important that they not be included during the initial meeting. Remember, even if your kids are on board with the meeting and happy to meet your new girlfriend, it’s still a big adjustment.
Allow them to get to know your new girlfriend better and establish a harmonious relationship before also introducing them to her children.
Make Your New Girlfriend Feel Safe
I’ve talked a lot about the important facets that come with dating after divorce as well as how to handle the introduction with your children. However, it’s also extremely important to keep another person’s comfort in mind — the new woman in your life.
You may be dating someone who doesn’t have children and is anxious about the situation. This could be completely new territory for her. Remember that she may have fears of her own when it comes to being introduced to your children, like:
- Your children not liking her
- Being asked to take on a parental role or responsibilities she isn’t prepared for
- Dealing with your ex-spouse or any potential jealousies that could come from bringing her into the fold
It’s important that you practice patience and understanding if your new girlfriend feels insecure about meeting your children. Don’t assume that she is going to be able to jump into the role of stepmom easily or that she and your children will automatically become the best of friends.
Moreover, don’t push her to meet your children before she feels ready to. You and she should both agree that your relationship is stable and set to go the distance before introducing her to your kids.
Need Individualized Advice? I’m Here to Help
Do you want specific advice about dating after divorce that is tailored to your situations and individual needs? I’m here to help. Head over to my calendar and book a new client 1-on-1 Skype session with me today. During our session, we’ll diagnose your dating/relationship history and create a plan of action that’ll help you move forward to reach your interpersonal goals.
If you’re trying to navigate the tricky world of online dating after divorce, check out my Dating Profile Services. Whether you need help building a dating profile from scratch or simply need an assessment of your current profiles, I’ve got you covered.