Is there a more nerve-wracking event than a first date? I would say yes, especially the first date after the end of a long-term relationship — and one where children are involved. Many of the questions I hear have to do with getting back into the dating scene — from where to go to meet singles, to how to meet singles and when dating should start. Therefore I have compiled a list of tips that may help you if you are considering dipping your toes back into the dating pool:
1. Take time to heal. Behaviours and thought patterns can be extremely difficult to re-program. If you don’t take the time to change them (and they do take time) it is very easy to fall back into the negative behaviours from the broken relationship.
2. Take time to enjoy your own company. Go to a movie, out to dinner, spend time with yourself. If you can’t stand to be around you, how can you expect anyone else to want to be with you either?
3. Join a club, begin a new hobby and/or take up a new sport. The best way to meet anyone — male or female — is to submerse yourself in activities you love. Join a golf league, take dance lessons or sign up for a wine tasting seminar. Even you don’t meet your next soulmate, you will enjoy the process!
4. Introduce the new relationship slowly. I don’t recommend announcing every date to your children, but if you have found someone you enjoy being with, let them know that you went to a movie or are going for supper, that way when it is time for introductions, your kids won’t be taken by surprise.
5. Work with your child’s personality. You know your child best — if they are open and love meeting new people, you can likely introduce the new partner sooner than later. However, if your child gets attached to people easily or is leery of new people, it would be in your child’s best interest to introduce them later.
6. Keep the first meeting casual and activity based. Centre your first meeting with your kids around an activity they like — go to the park, go bowling, something that doesn’t require them to put all their attention on the new person in their circle.
7. Avoid public demonstrations of affection, at least in the beginning. Sometimes the transition to dating may confuse or threaten your children so take affection slowly.
8. Respect your child’s feelings. Listen to any concerns your child may have and take them seriously — children can be a great judge of character.
9. Enjoy the process — don’t leave one relationship to jump immediately into another. Take time enjoying the independence — the ability to make decisions without having to consult a second person, the ability to focus completely on your children and the ability to try new experiences. Being single is not a disease, it is an opportunity — embrace it!