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November 25, 2015

Dating with Kids: Questions to Ask when Taking that Next Step.

Flickr/Jan Fidler

An interested man recently asked what an ideal dating situation would be for me.

It’s always relieving when interest has turned into enough care to consider asking a question like this, but here’s the thing—I’m a single mom. I am 30 years old, with two kids, and I’m divorced.

He was asking because, likely, he has no idea what to do with this situation—and neither do I. So I decided to write about it. It’s such a simple question, that is actually quite deep, when asked of a woman in my position in life. I think I can come up with a strategy to figure this out—and it doesn’t have to be for the man—it can be something we carry with us, as single mom’s attempting to date again.

I’ve created a list we can have ready, for any man who dares to get close enough to ask for such information. No doubt, it could be a game-changer to have it settled and ready to recite with confidence and certainty. I think it’d work best to break it into sections of analysis—like unfolding the layers of an onion.

First of all, let’s start from the top. Let us first analyze our own souls. After all, we are the ones in charge, we have the ultimate choices to make, and we have everything to lose. We are the glue that holds our families together, and we’re going to be that same glue that binds a man into the family we started without him. Soul searching, as our first goal, will change our entire life in every way imaginable.

1. What characteristics make you—you?
2. What do you think are attributes about yourself that this new man will never be able to live without?
3. What’s important to you in a man?
4. What experiences have impacted you from your childhood?
5. What do you see as important things you’d like to implement into your children’s childhood?

Second, let’s analyze one’s previous marriage. It has certainly changed us—taught us invaluable lessons about relationships and love and parenting. This puts us in an incredible place of dominance in a new relationship. What we have to offer is experience and a keen sense of self—all of which are unable to obtain without what we’ve already been through. In a career situation, we’d be at the top of our newest employer’s list.

1. So, did you and he leave on good terms, irreconcilable differences?
2. Did you or he cheat, or was there abuse involved?
3. Were you married for a short time or a very long time?
4. Are your children from only this marriage?
5. Was your wedding something you always dreamed or one you’d rather forget about?

These may seem like simple “yes” or “no” questions, but these are some of the foundational questions that can guide us the most as to exactly what we’re looking for next and what to avoid next.

Thirdly, we can’t forget the kids. They are the prime reason dating now isn’t anything like it was before. They require the most time, the most love and the most loyalty—which now means that the man you date has to realize that he ties with them for all of those things in his own special way, but never in the way that is designated for your kids. One does not come first or second, because it is a completely different kind of love—romantic love versus motherly love. I don’t care what people say, they tie for first.

1. Are your kids older or younger?
2. Have they been without a second parent for a long time or a short time?
3. Have you raised them to be dependent on you, or are they pretty independent?
4. Will they likely be hesitant to accept another person or eager to have someone new around?

The children are pretty much your deciding factor, because we always want what’s best for our kids, and picking a new man to be a role model, and example of love and commitment, is as important to them as it is to us.

Finally, this new man—what do you want him fundamentally to offer you? This is the most flexible of all the analyzing factors. We don’t have to be strict or inflexible. We could come across someone with so many things we love, that our list shifts almost immediately, because we didn’t know someone could exist that way. This is where we pull together the information from all of the previous questions.

How does he serve you? How would he serve you in a potential second marriage? How would he serve you in a life with your children?

Ask yourself:

1. Do you want more children? If not, would you be open to considering it, if he did?
2. How does he feel about kids in general? What emotions does he have—overly eager, scared, intimidated, annoyed?
3. Does he have the same goal and life path you’re seeing for yourself at this time?
4. Do you believe in your heart that he is ready to handle a woman with a life like yours?
5. How does he treat your ex—does it cause you more stress than comfort?
6. Does he have the same ideas of parenting, in general, as you?
7. Does he make you happy the way he truly is as a person?

This is a generalized, rough list of questions. You can add or take away questions as needed for your particular life. However, asking these serious questions will give you insight into who you are now, who you’re looking for and where you want to go.

I spent a long time believing I should want things a particular way, because I needed to accommodate a guy that showed any interest in me—like without being so laid back and undemanding that he would not be intimidated by my life. I wanted him to be impressed that I was cool about everything, and I thought that is what would make him stick around.

Well that was a disaster—I ended up looking like I had no idea what was going on, and my kids were a figment of our imaginations, and I didn’t care either way what happened for us. It was confusing and hurtful for us all. I asked myself these questions after a few hurtful relationships, and I gained the strength to enforce what I wanted, and how I saw a relationship for me unfolding and growing. And don’t think for one second that he hasn’t spent many nights thinking about what he’s gotten himself into—and yet he still calls the next day, don’t forget that!

If being open and assertive scares any of them (and it did scare some, for me) then it should be no sweat off your back to say, “See ya!” There will be more who are interested in you—beautiful men who will “man up” to what being with you has to offer. You’re invincible! You have already found love once, then picked up the pieces and adapted when it turned out to be an unexpected failure. You’ve birthed your beautiful children, nurtured them, kept them alive and made incredibly hard decisions in their best interest.

I know your life—you set an alarm on your days off, you prepare all three meals almost every single day and eat the cold leftovers as your own meal half the time. You’ve wiped butts, cleaned marker off of unimaginable places and survived off less sleep than most humans should. You’ve gotten sick after caring for your sick babies, with no one to care for you in return. You’re a treasure for the right man—he will love you more than you ever remember being loved, and he will enjoy your kids as the best friends he has ever had.

So write down your list—recite it, soak in it—and change it as you move along your journey. Let it change as often as you do. I hope you have many incredible experiences and as many incredible failures as you need.

When you find the one that dances to the same rhythm of a song, you thought only you could hear—all of this time you spent on yourself, and what you want, will all pay off!

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Relephant: 

Dating Doesn’t End at 20: Some Pointers for the Older Folk.

A Guide to Finding Love After Divorce.

 

Author: Haley Amezcua

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Flickr/Jan Fidler

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