You are likely to take some of the “stand-in” damage for the anger that needs a place to dissipate. But pay attention to how this person deals with these setbacks or conflicts. In my experience, I find a potential partner who has had kids (they can be older or younger than mine) is more likely to be accepting and accommodating of my relationship to my kids. Sure, it’s an interruption, and sure it puts the “special friend” in a secondary role, but it’s clear to me that my kids emotional and physical well-being is much more important than me having a girlfriend.
It’s likely this is how any future conflict with you might evolve, as well. At least at this point in my life, while they are still in school, and still very much under my influence.
I think we are mostly looking to me found and appreciated by another person, while having the opportunity to appreciate them back. And now, standing strong and alone again, we are ready to dip our toes into the idea of being loved and loving again. And here is what I’ve found to be the indicators of a healthy start.
We want to become the most fantastic cheerleader for their hopes and dreams and we expect that positive affirmation in return. If your potential partner is still dramatically engaged or enraged at their ex partner, watch out. And it’s tough to get through all the processing that needs to happen before we can cut it loose and be free of the burden of our ex.
But as the child ages, and reaches the end of elementary school they should not need to be coddled or babied, because the other parent is trying to make up for some loss. In early stages of a relationship, most of the time you want to hear, “What happened?
And of course, as a divorced, and now-single parent, I am going to do everything I can to take care of my kids needs. Maybe the kid was a brat who was completely undisciplined.
Dating after divorce is tricky too, and I’ve found some things I think are good indicators of how whole a person is, and how ready they are for a healthy relationship.
Sure, your dating profile says something like, “Let’s be friends first and see where that takes us.” But most people I meet are really hoping that friendship takes us to the next wave of affection. We have found our own way out of the desert of depression and despair. Their divorce is still too painful, or their relationship with their ex is still too volatile. If, however you begin to think your shit is sufficiently together to date again, some new boundaries are in order.
How have they accepted their own responsibility for the divorce. Walking away from a marriage is hard work, and the way someone tells their divorce story is important. You’d think that if someone is dating again that they are ready for a relationship. You’d even imagine, that someone who puts up a dating profile online, and who talks about what they want in their next relationship, probably has some intention of being in a relationship. I have been on quite a few dates where the woman had no idea what they wanted.
Or perhaps the child was overly shy and withdrawn, folding themselves into the parent.
At younger ages some of this behavior is acceptable. Both the kids and the parents need to return to healthy boundaries and healthy communication styles, so that everyone can grow up, and let go of the stigma and shame of the divorce.