So, you’ve decided to dip your toes into the world of single parent dating. I’ve been there for the past three years and I know you are feeling all the emotions—excited, insecure, nervous, hopeful.
And I also know the first thing that came into your mind when you got set up on that first blind date, downloaded a dating app, or got asked out by the sexy man at the grocery store was:
What will my teenagers think? How will they take it?
It feels monumental, I know. You know they aren’t your friends and you don’t divulge too much information to them, but you want to see them happy with the choices you make. Let’s face it, you’ve all weathered a divorce together. Even when it’s on the best of terms, dating after divorce is a huge deal and you want everyone to feel okay. Including yourself.
Teenagers are smart. Even when we don’t think they are paying attention, they are. When I downloaded Tinder on my phone, my youngest decided to do some swiping unbeknownst to me. I realized then it was time to lock down my phone. But even if I tried to hide my dating life from them, I wouldn’t be able to. Believe me I tried.
Part of me thought they would be upset if they found out I was dating, but they knew. They would leave for their father’s house and I would be curling my hair and spritzing with perfume. I could only tell them I was going out with the girls so many times before they were on to me.
I decided to be honest and let them know I was, in fact, going on dates. And to my surprise, they were happy. It was a sign I was moving on and wasn’t sitting home alone on the nights they were with their dad.
Thoughts of me having dinner or going to spin class with a companion brought them a sense of comfort, and they didn’t feel like they had to worry about my well-being as much.
But that’s about where it ended.
When I started seeing someone and our relationship evolved into something long term, my teens weren’t excited about meeting him or spending time with us when he came over. They were happy for me, but it was still another change they had to figure out.
And that’s okay. They like him, he likes them, and they still like me. Introducing this man to my teens and allowing him into their lives wasn’t a storybook experience, but it is enough for now. The truth is, and I say this with love, teenagers (including mine) are very self-centered. Their focus is on their own lives—their friends, their sports, their college plans. They are the most important person in their mind. They aren’t spending too much time thinking about my love life.
So, if you are ready to date, go for it. And if your teenagers are less than impressed remember this: Your happiness not only matters, it’s an important part of creating a happy home for your entire family. Picking up the pieces after your divorce, moving on, and building a meaningful relationship with someone else shows your children that love and happiness aren’t a one-shot deal.
All the best,
A fellow dating mom of teens