Writer Saul Bellow once said, “When we ask for advice, we are usually looking for an accomplice.”1 Most people pick and choose advice to reinforce their original inclinations. If you are a divorced dad interested in rejoining the dating world, you are looking for ideas that support your yearning to connect to someone other than your kids’ mother.
Get Out There and Stay Busy
If you ever noticed the heroes in most romantic comedies, they are always preoccupied with something quirky. They are not literally sitting around waiting for the right woman to find them. In the movies, this is known as the meet-cute2, and the guy is always thoroughly distracted, never on the prowl.
This busy-ness with your own business makes you desirable, because you are not out hunting for a companion. You are playing tennis, staring at fish, shopping for gloves, or stealing a horse (wait—leave that last one for Ever After).
The point is to be doing something that puts you out there, without seeming desperate.
Know When It’s Too Soon to Start Dating Again
If you have been married long enough to have kids who walk upright and form sentences, presumably you have been out of the dating scene a while. Your skill set is a little diminished. Take things slowly, ease into dating, and do not put tremendous pressure on yourself. The experts at Life of Dad recommend listening to yourself as you try out dating again. If you hear yourself talking to her too much about your own kids, your ex-wife, or how unhappy you are, you are probably dating too soon.
Involve Your Children and Embrace Your Dadhood
Pick activities that involve your kids, so you can never be accused of trying to hide your dadhood. Be a leader:
- Scoutmaster (you need some training)
- Help with the school play (paint scenery, run errands, corral kids for the chorus)
- Volunteer at church
- Be the Girl Scout Cookie Dad (it is a grueling job, seriously, and requires a lot of time)
- Coach a sport
This connects you with your wonderful kids, but also lets any interested women see you are honest about your situation, without having to walk around with a sandwich board introducing yourself as “recently divorced dad.”
Be Honest Always About Your Desires and Fears
You divorced, you didn’t die; be honest with your children and ex-wife about your desire and need to see other people. If you fear what your children will think, fear not. You are showing them what adulthood looks like, sort of like turning back time to before they were around. They can see you go through first-date jitters, disappointments, and even the cruel coldness of being dumped.
Your emotional life matters, of course, and you are not merely a museum piece for your kids to analyze, but you can be honest with them about your feelings. Just be prepared to hear their feelings back.
Fiona McGlynn, taking a spot as guest-host at Since My Divorce, sees value in both the honesty and the instruction. She recommends not over-sharing, but keeping the conversation age-appropriate and, above all, honest.
Your Date is Not Your Therapist
The Huffington Post points out in its divorce column that a common—perhaps the most common—mistake dating divorced Dads make is to disgorge all the bad vibes and frustration they feel about their ex-wife…to their dates.
You have a wonderful woman in front of you who has agreed to spend time with you, and you respond by spending all that time talking about someone else. What could possibly be a turn-off about that?
Similarly, if you treat every date as your chance to blow off steam then you should expect the same storm and stress back from your companion. She wants to go out for fun and distraction, not to be your shoulder to cry on or your blank wall to shout at.
Your Kids are Not Her Kids
When you first start to date, even openly acknowledging your children, do not expect your dates to think of your children as you do. They are not her kids, and she has no reason to feel any strong emotional connection to them.
Do not spend every date talking about your kids to your companion. The first several dates, even if she knows you have kids, should not include your kids. Only when you and she know you are serious should you introduce her to your kids and your kids to her. And, again, keep the focus on her, not your kids.
Call Virginia’s Only Family Law Firm Serving Men Exclusively
At The Firm For Men, believe it or not, we do know a little something about relationships. We’ve been representing men exclusively in family law and divorce matters for over a decade! Call us at 757-383-9184 to discuss how we can help with your divorce. We are here to help before, during and after your legal proceedings.