Making the choice to begin dating after divorce may cause lots of emotions for you. The thought can be exciting, scary, happy or even sad. But what about the feelings your kids may be having about it?

One of the most important aspects to keep in mind when considering your children's reactions is how long you've been divorced.

This has a huge impact on kids. Divorce research has shown time and time again, that kids take much longer to deal with all of the changes that happen as a result of a divorce than you do. By the time you're thinking about dating again, they may still be reeling from the divorce itself.

Your dating makes this whole divorce thing real. Before then, you and their other parent just aren't living in the same house. From a kid's perspective that means there's still the possibility that things may change and go back to "normal" (even though you've told them hundreds of times it won't).

Once they know you're in a relationship after divorce, it makes the finality of the divorce much more real. It's NOT just that you aren't in the same house now. It's that somebody else may "replace" their other parent.

If this happens too soon, it can be overwhelming for kids. They are still grieving the loss of their old family and it feels to them that you're already trying to replace it with another family. Even if it's just a first date with someone, it can feel this way to kids.

Another aspect that complicates things is if an affair broke up the marriage. If you begin dating too soon, kids may start wondering if that was the reason for the divorce. This will not start you and your new partner off on the right foot with your kids.

Because of all these reasons, be prepared for your kids to be upset to some extent about your relationships after divorce. Does that mean you shouldn't begin dating? Not necessarily. But I will offer these questions to you if you're dating less than 4 months after your divorce is final (the keyword in that sentence is FINAL):

1. Why now?

2. What are you hoping for by dating again?

3. What have YOU done for yourself to help heal after your divorce?

4. How well are you getting along with your ex-spouse?

If the answers to these revolve around fear of being alone, not really feeling the need to look back at the previous marriage and there still being a lot of conflict between you and your ex-spouse, then I'm going to suggest waiting awhile before dating. Not only are your kids probably not ready, but neither are you.

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