Whether you love kids or can't stand them, whether you're already a parent or you're childfree, dating someone with kids is hard. Disproportionately, mystifyingly, unbelievably hard. There's a bunch of reasons for this. Trying to fit romance in around a schedule that's at least twice as chaotic as other people's. Exponentially increased potential for stress and drama.
You can't separate the kids from everything that connects those kids to your partner-custody schedules, extracurricular activities, the other parent, general kid and parenting stuff, financial obligations, endless driving kids around to here or there.
Focus on flexibility and keep yourself open to changes happening - because happen they will, and more often than you probably expect. I don't think any pre-stepparent with half a brain thinks their future stepkids will fall in love with them overnight. Sure, there'll be a bit of a warming up period. Some shyness. Some reluctance. But they'll come around once they get to know you, right? I was totally fine with my SD's initial hesitance around me. But I started feeling less fine as weeks turned into months and then into years.
And not years of mere shy reluctance, no no no.
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Years of committed rejection, palpable hatred, active sabotage. Years of me crying, wondering what I was doing wrong, wondering if we would ever have a relationship that could remotely be considered positive.
They'll actively resist getting to know you. And again, not just the first few times you meet- for weeks, months, even years. Dan and I been together nearly 4 years by the time we got married. At our wedding, out of hundreds of photos taken, I have exactly 2 where my stepdaughter is smiling.
And if you'd told me at that time I was only at the halfway point- that we still had a few more years to go before my SD stopped treating me like a leper- I probably wouldn't have smiled in more than 2 of those photos either.
Yet a year later, my SD wrote a school paper on how beautiful the wedding was, what an important and exciting day in her life. These are the kinds of glimpses you catch that these kids' emotions are conflicted and barriers are dissolving. It was those few and far between moments of hope that helped me rally, haul myself up, and keep going. Dating someone with kids is a mixed bag. There's what's happening on the surface, but then there's all the churning complicated currents reaching for miles and miles down below.
Becoming a stepparent is the emotional equivalent of the Mariana Trench; there's no "Oh I'll just dip my toes in real quick. Building this relationship will take years, not months. Remember that blending a family takes 5 to 7 years on average. On average. In a high-conflict situation, up to a decade or more. If you are in this, you are in for the long haul, so remember to pace yourself.
Consider, dating someone from a divorced family nonsense!
Don't take every small rejection to heart. Your presence matters. Your contributions matter. Even if it takes years to see it. Only after I'd been dating Dan for somewhere like 2 or 3 years flying totally blind and feeling pretty miserable the entire time did it finally occur to me that maybe there were some kind of stepmom resources I could look into that would help me figure out what I was doing wrong.
Back in those days, there was nothing helpful online except a couple dusty, toxic forums. There were a couple books on being a stepmom sitting next to that, and I grabbed those too just because.
Dating a Man Who’s Been Married Before
I read all of them within the week, called my mom all excited that it wasn't just me- that everything I was going through was NORMAL and I wasn't the worst woman on the planet for having such mixed feelings about being a stepmom well, pre-stepmomthat me not getting along with my future stepdaughter was typical, that my kid and his kid not getting along was also typical, that all the incredibly complex and contradictory emotions I cycled through roughly every 12 seconds was totally standard.
Her response? But remember, you're NOT a stepmom. I'm NOT a stepmom! I'm not married to this guy or his kid or his problems with his ex.
I don't have to put in the time or effort to figure out this whole mess! Sometimes I wonder just how much that fake epiphany set me back.
Because that was one of those moments where you get what seems like good advice from the outside- don't get more involved than you need to be as in: until you have to be, aka you're married - but when you're on the inside, it's not that simple.
Consider, dating someone from a divorced family are
I couldn't spend time with Dan without spending time with his daughter. I mean I could, but what would be the point? I was dating a guy who had a kid. She was part of his life, so if I also wanted to be part of his life, then our lives- my future SD's and mine- would intertwine. Plus, what was the alternative? Wait until we were officially married before putting in the effort to truly connect with my boyfriend's daughter?
Dan didn't believe in marriage; I might never technically be a stepmom, so that left me where, exactly?
Plus, I also had a kid. Weren't we working together toward building a family? Was I supposed to wait until legal marriage before we started that process?
You're in or you're out. Sure, some logistics are different when just dating someone with kids as opposed to officially married or cohabiting stepparents- not sharing a household, not sharing finances- but the stepkid-stepparent dynamic?
Speaking, dating someone from a divorced family phrase, simply
It's the same. The emotional obstacles, the challenges, the guilt, the frustration, the wondering where you fit in? Yep, all the same. Whatever title you give yourself- Dad's girlfriend, Mom's boyfriend, pre-stepparent, stepparent-in-training- if you're feeling lost, start looking at resources for stepmoms and stepdads.
Or at least it'll apply well enough to help you feel less alone, and that's all that matters if you're hitting the overwhelm point. In kid-free relationships, there's you and there's your new partner and that's it. But when you're dating someone with kids, you are getting to know that someone and you are getting to know their kids. There's a whole separate relationship there you have to work out.
Just like starting a relationship with another adult, becoming a stepparent includes a similar element of two people feeling each other out, learning likes and dislikes, learning the ways you click and the ways you clash, and putting all that stuff together in your head to figure out if you have a viable future.
And because kids are kids and they haven't gone through dating themselves yet, they don't understand how relationships work. Kids don't understand your role in their life you probably don't know yourself what your role isthey don't want their life to change and they worry you might change it, and they don't want you taking any of their parent's attention away from them.
And they can't articulate any of this; they just know it all adds up to not feeling real thrilled there's a prospective stepparent in the picture. Which is where your partner's advocacy can go a long way toward smoothing things over. As parents, it's our job to help our kids figure out the world, even when faced with questions we don't know the answers to ourselves.
Without the constant reassurance and guidance from their parent, stepkids are left to navigate their emotions alone. Emotions they don't understand, emotions that are more complex than children can even identify, let alone process.
In a high-conflict situation, your future stepkids' emotions may also be manipulated by their other parent. Your partner is the connection between you and their kid. If they're not acting as a bridge, then they're making the process of connecting that much harder. And if your partner is just NOT getting that, make them read this ebook. Becoming a stepparent is like renting a house. A cute, friendly-looking house that at first you were super excited to move into, but after living there for awhile you realize maybe isn't as nice as it seemed in photos.
Also, the landlord left a ton of ugly furniture you're not allowed to remove- you can only rearrange. Get even angrier when the landlord agrees yet nothing changes. Take note of what you can live with, what you absolutely cannot live with, and what just might work with a bit of creativity on your part.
In other words, you gotta pick your battles. There's so much about our partner's life that we as stepparents have no control overespecially when still in the dating stages. There are some fights you will never be able to win. Disengage with loveand make your peace with what you cannot change, Serenity Prayer style. If I had to recreate my own timeline for becoming a stepmom, it'd look something like this:. Start looking for some kind of resources related to dating someone with kids, thinking I must be doing something very wrong.
Get married. Wonder why things are getting worse instead of better. When did that start happening?
Sorry, not dating someone from a divorced family apologise, but
At least, normal for us. Everything got harder before it got better. I think this is pretty typical. In a low-conflict stepparenting situation, the timeline from dating someone with kids to feeling like a functional blended family is typically shorter. In a high-conflict co-parenting situation, the natural process of blending your family gets set back over and over again with each battle between households; gaining ground is that much harder.
In either case, there's typically a dip where dating someone with kids gets harder around the 6-month markwhen your future stepkid realizes you're probably sticking around.
Then there's often a second dip around the 2-year markwhen your future stepkid realizes you're almost for sure sticking around. Within any blended family, setbacks commonly show up right alongside milestones - moving in together, getting engaged, getting married, the arrival of a new sibling.
It's one of the most exrating parts of becoming a stepparent: you make some kind of relationship breakthrough that's worth celebrating, and your stepkid responds by turning into the worst version of themselves. It's hard to see how far you've come- and how close you are to breaking through- when you're down in the trenches. Rise above to the 30, foot view and remind yourself what you've achieved. Stepparenting getting harder just when you thought it'd be getting easier is a very normal pattern for blended families, and doesn't mean you're doing anything wrong.
If your stepkid consistently rejects you just for being yourself, it's only natural to think you should up your game.
As a result divorced dating really isn't all that uncommon. If your divorce isn't finalized yet but you feel ready to get back out there, go for it. Legally, there is generally nothing preventing you from dating during divorce but there are some dos and don'ts the experts say you should keep in . The pros and cons of dating someone who has been divorced. by eharmony. Dating. Open-mindedness - often a person who has been through a divorce may have a complicated family life with ex in-laws, children and contact with their spouse. This can often result in them being much more open minded and adaptable themselves with a deeper. Judges, however, rarely punish someone who begins dating - sexually or otherwise - once they have physically separated from their spouse. Even so, the presence of someone new, particularly when paraded in front of the spouse and/or children, can enrage the soon-to-be ex, and also create the suspicion that the relationship began as an.
Try harder. Bend further over backwards. Buy more stuff. Put up with more crap.
Stop crying sooner and fake-smile faster. But I swear, kids can smell fakery and fear on a pre-stepparent like they're great whites and you're thrashing around in open water with some kind of bleeding head wound and no land in sight. Any kid who's determined not to like you will only like you that much less if you act anything less than completely authentic. Because then not only are you ruining their lives, you're also a total fake.
You don't really like your stepkids ; you're just being nice to them to get to their parent. You're just trying to buy their love.
Or whatever stories they're telling themselves about you. The more the kid rejects you, the more pressured you feel to work that much harder- the kids should fall in love with you, dammit!
That's the only way this blended family thing will work!! So you dump more energy into those tiny human black holes, really getting creative with different ways you can connect.
Surely there's something you could try that you haven't tried that will be the magic key. The whole time you're setting up this super elaborate dog and pony show, your stepkid feels increasingly overwhelmed and withdraws further. Because they aren't ready for a relationship with you yet. So take a step backstop channeling the super-stepparent you think you're supposed to be, and just be yourself.
Dating someone from a divorced family
The sooner you return to a not-on-steroids level of authentic you-ness, the sooner your stepkid will feel like it's safe to emerge from their cave of sulk. Successfully blending a family takes years, so think of becoming a stepparent like you're competing in a triathlon. You gotta pace yourself.
Don't give yourself empty in the first leg. Okay but by not trying harder, I don't mean going all martyr like "Welp, no one wants me around anyway, I'll just let my partner hang out solo with the kids again this weekend. But don't let the sting of your stepkid's current temporary! A family that includes you. For more nitty gritty on the particulars of disengaging, read the Disengaging Essay or my ebook on how to disengage.
In a traditional family, we know exactly what happens to the kids whose parents bend over backwards, hand them everything on a silver platter and never enforce rules, consequences, or boundaries. They grow up into spoiled little shitheads. Yet somehow-incomprehensibly- we all think that parenting children this way after divorce won't have the exact same result.
Guilt is a major component in parenting after divorce.
The terror that their kids will be permanently damaged by growing up in single-parent households causes divorced parents to make absolutely absurd parenting decisions. Guilty Parent Complex breeds little monsters. Divorced parents coddle their little rugrats to pieces because they're always afraid the kids will choose the other parent over them.
This dynamic leads to super dysfunctional parent-child relationships. The kids end up with all the power, which breeds entitlement and disrespect. It's not hard to see how that kind of kid is not the easiest kid for a stranger to grow to love just because you're dating that kid's parent. Over time, Guilty Parent Complex corrects itself Your stepkids aren't likely to become your number one fans out of the gate. They may view you with emotions ranging from excitement to resentment to outright hatred or oscillate wildly among all of those and some extra emotions tossed in for fun at any given time, maybe simultaneously.
As confusing as the blended family dynamic is for the grownups, it's exponentially more so for kids.
Not only is everything happening over their heads and above their pay grade, kids lack the emotional capacity to process the incredibly complex emotions associated with one of their parents dating someone new. Over time, your future stepkids' emotional barometer will mature enough to figure out their conflicted feelings, which can manifest in different ways. Some future stepparents are welcomed with open arms- right up till your future stepkids realize you're in this for the long haul, that is.
Then they'll pull a Jekyll-Hyde move so sudden it'll drop your jaw. Other kids immediately reject a stepparent-in-training, and don't stop keeping them at arms' length for a second. And this could go on for years.
It's super important for your partner to talk openly and honestly with their kids about their feelingsbut equally important not to harp on heavy emotional subject matter till everyone dreads being in the same room together. Your partner can explain to them that it's completely normal and expected for them to have mixed feelings about you being in their lives- and that it's also normal for them to have a laser-focused burning desire to get you out of their lives.
However, your partner also needs to stress that you're not going anywhere and that you're important to themand insist the kids treat you with respect if nothing else. This ebook can help guide that conversation. Any adult dating someone with kids can expect to zip from mood to mood like a manic hummingbird with zero warning of what emotion is coming next.
And one or several of those moods might involve some not-so-nice thoughts aimed toward your partner's kids. Which, just like the not-so-nice feelings your partner's kids' have toward you, is totally normal and very common. Maybe you want to like your partner's kids but your partner spoils them so obnoxiously you can hardly stand to be around them. Or maybe your partner's ex is high-conflictand you've started viewing- and resenting- the kids as an extension of their opposite parent. You're still in the dating stages of becoming a stepparentand blending a family takes years.
Over time, your feelings will change approximately 86 bajillion times as you find your groove. And maybe you'll end up really enjoying time with the kids, maybe love will take root and grow.
And that's okay too. Because just showing up every day and continuing to work on building that relationship is an act of love in and of itself; let that be enough for right now. Dating someone with kids can feel a lot like dating by committee. You're not only trying to win over a new partner, you're also trying to win over their kid s.
If you have your own kids, you probably want them to approve of your relationship with this new person, too. Maybe your own ex is also sitting in the ever-growing peanut gallery. And then of course, just like any other relationship, you've both got various friends and relatives and coworkers all casting their votes on the viability of your relationship. The only two people who determine the future of this relationship are you and your partner.
You don't need their kid to like you. If you're waiting around for your future stepkid's stamp of approval before getting serious about their parent, you could be waiting years. It seems like the respectful thing to do, but really it's giving an outside adult inappropriate power in your relationship. The kids already have a parent- your partner- who has full authority to decide who is or is not an appropriate person to introduce into their child's life.
Keep being yourself. Keep dating your partner. Keep getting to know each other and deciding if this is something that's gonna work long-term.
The rest will fall into place.
Big time. And I get it. At least as much as someone who has never been there can. Divorce, however, is on a whole other level. When you go through a divorce a big part of who you were before changes. No matter how independent you are, to some degree your identity is tied up with being married and being married to her. This list focuses on the things I coached them on that worked and helped them to get through one of the most hellacious periods of their life.
However, when we look at relationships that prosper and relationships that end, there are some common themes. However, at the end of the day, what you really want to do is work your best on yourself. Of course you will.
In fact, dating is part of the process of healing when it comes to your divorce. To a certain extent, moving forward means getting out there and meeting someone new, so there are definite advantages to recently divorced dating. Some productive things to do include:. Of course they will. And on some level you already know this. In fact, there are some people to whom you might even be more attractive to than your wife when you were married. Not only does it make you more capable at choosing who you want to spend your time with, it also makes your choices more meaningful.
One brief thought before moving on: If you have kids, remember this: There are tons of women out there who also have kids and guys without kids tend to treat them like a third rail.
After coaching hundreds of guys who have been through divorce, I can tell you this much: it is different.
So how is it different? It varies from one man to another. But the short answer is: sooner than you probably think. Dating after a divorce can be difficult because of the changes in your life. This causes a lot of men to make mistakes regarding their romantic life. His company, The Art of Charm, is a leading training facility for top performers that want to overcome social anxiety, develop social capital and build relationships of the highest quality.
Raised by a single father, AJ felt a strong desire to learn about relationships and the elements that make them successful. However, this interest went largely untapped for many years.