Re-entering the Dating World...When You're a Single Dad
Just because you have kids doesn't mean you can’t be someone’s “the one.” Entering the dating world is tricky, single parent or not, and it takes a lot of courage and patience to skillfully navigate the terrain. If your previous relationship ended in a tragic manner whether it be through a grievous loss or a bitter divorce, dating may feel elusive and outright daunting. As a single dad, you may have already convinced yourself that you’re better off just getting your feet wet or not dating at all. Or you may have denied and minimized your fears, leading you to make reckless plunges that harmed both you and your children. After emerging from an unsuccessful marriage, your self esteem may have experienced a deep wound; you’re probably experiencing guilt over making your children victims of your choices that didn't end well, and you may even doubt your capability of picking an appropriate and loving partner. Have you endured all the discouragement and blows you can take in one paragraph? Hopefully, because while re-entering the dating world may seem pointless or terrifying, having a relationship partner to share your life with and giving your kids another figure to look up to is important. So while you strap on your equipment and prepare to take off into the relationship galaxy, remember these two important things: don’t rush into dating and don’t forget to sit your kids down and talk to them about this new start for both you and them.
Taking the First Step
First and foremost, before you plan on turning your relationship status to “being in a relationship with insert her name here,” understand yourself. Know why you’re seeking to begin a new relationship. If the answer is something along the lines of “to seek a compassionate partner that will bless my family with her graceful presence,” proceed onwards. If you’re unsure or your answer goes something like this, “have some fun” or “lose myself and get away from my kids for a change,” you should reevaluate your priorities. Keeping the happiness and wellbeing of you and the rest of your family at a level where it should be should always come first. If you’re like most, you’re probably wondering as to when you should start dating. Allow for a recovery period both for your sake and your child’s sake, but ultimately, you don’t want to fall into one of the two detested classes: waits for the right time but ultimately never steps close to putting a foot over the line and onto the side labeled “exploring a new relationship” or runs into the idea with arms splayed wide open. Finding a new partner is not a race. Nor is it a test of how long you can stay motionless. As you explore and carefully make your way back into the world of relationships, go at a pace suitable for you.
Letting the Past Go
The most important thing to do is to let the past go. Sitting by yourself, trapped in a lonely cave of misery and regret will not accomplish anything. It won’t get you your woman back, you won’t get that relationship back, and you won’t get your happy go lucky self back either. Do something with the grief and when you feel like you’ve let all the emotions out, cheer up and then gear up. It’s easy to keep watching romantic tragedies and stare at photos of you and her together after a relationship has ended, but it is unhealthy, physically, emotionally, and mentally to let yourself sit in that place for too long. If for no other reason, get the emotions out for once and for all and then proceed on calmly with life for your child. You are their role model and they need you more than ever when one important figure in their life has left them. As a single dad, taking care of yourself while letting the event and all the emotions accompanied by it run its course is difficult but absolutely necessary. When you get up in the morning, rather than mourn about the absence of that previously significant other, tell yourself that it’s a new day filled with new opportunities and you’re going to make the best of it for you and the rest of your family. Mending what once was broken will take time but not dawdling will allow for an easier transition when the time comes. Cheer up and gear up.
So Who Am I?
Like mentioned before, most people fall into one of two categories when it comes to their speed in finding a new partner: no speed or rapid-fire speed. Let’s cover the first one, no speed, first. Whenever there is attachment and loss, there will undoubtedly be sorrow and grief. Time heals all wounds and taking the time to nurse that wound is a pragmatic idea. Sadness is a multi-dimensional feeling comprised of many other raw emotions including, but not limited to compassion, anger, regret, and guilt. Losing a loved one hurts but what you do with the time will work to either build or undermine the recovery. You need to actively participate in the grieving process and that includes taking care of your child who will be in a state similar to yours, working at your career, keeping up with life on a day-to-day basis, and taking the time to recover both emotionally and mentally. When a relationship has ended, the hardest thing to do is to continue doing what you were doing before. But life goes on, even when grief has a presence. That’s important if you’re holding back on getting back in the dating world. Let your emotions run its course but don’t keep wallowing in your misery. That will only drag the well-being of yourself down which will in turn have a negative effect on your child.
On a scale of 1-10 (1 being the highest), how comfortable are you with beginning a new relationship?
Furthermore, rather than date and become emotionally involved which may lead to a more serious relationship, it would be worth your time to socialize. Take your child out for weekend outings to strengthen the parent and child bond which will be put to the test, in their mind at the very least, when the time for a new mother and parental figure rolls around. Make new friends, spend time with people in groups, and casually socialize. It will help you adjust when you decide to start a one on one relationship with a woman. Not to mention, when you’re single there are new doors open to you. Embrace those opportunities and spend some “me time” on yourself while your status is still single. Go partying, not too late or what will you child think of you, go skydiving, and climb new and different heights. Exploring the new world of options that has been given to you will allow you to cultivate personal growth.
No Need To Be A Boomerang
Now, let’s say you fall into the second category. That is, with the previous crummy relationship finally over, you’re all too ready to start again and engage in new relationships. This is unhealthy both for you and your kid. Unless you are super dad to the extreme, the end of a relationship must have had some emotional and mental impact on you. Taking the time to understand yourself and what went wrong previously is difficult, which is why you probably skimmed over it and decided to just run for a new relationship, but it’s necessary if you want the new relationship to go right. Without your previous partner, take the time to reinvent yourself. Who are you without a woman by your side? If it’s not who you want it to be, now would be an opportune time to remediate that. Before you decide to invest in a new relationship, learn more about yourself. Take the time to truly appreciate yourself. In addition, taking the time to reflect on the past will bring better changes in the future. A relationship is made out of three different entities: you, me and we. It would be well worth your time to reflect on the three different entities and what things you thought worked well in the previous relationship and what could be improved upon.