NAVIGATING YOUR STBX AND YOUR NEW MAN

             Dating post-divorce can be both daunting and exhilarating.  There are so many questions and concerns: you may feel like “damaged goods”, when do you introduce your children to a potential keeper, will another man find you attractive, are there new rules of dating since you were in the mode so many years ago, is it okay to meet a man online, and on and on.  Sometimes, it just doesn’t seem worth all the trouble.  But love isn’t going to jump into your lap so you will need to put some effort and risk toward it.

            One thing you may not think you ever had to consider was your STBX (soon-to-be-ex).  Does he have a vote in who you date?  It seems contrary to everything you may be considering.  After all, you are divorcing him; why would he need to be on your dating radar? Well, maybe he doesn’t...but maybe he does.

            Ask actress Anna Faris how her STBX, Chris Pratt feels about her new honey.  According to recent chatter, he’s none too thrilled that she has introduced their five year-old son, Jack to the new man she’s dating.  Which begs the questions:

            *Does your STBX have a vote in who you date?

            *Does he have to approve?

            *When is the right time to introduce your children to your new man?

            These are complicated questions, of course, and there is no good one-size-fits-all answer, but think of a rule of thumb that will serve you well: How would you feel if the roles were reversed?      

            If you would want to be considered in your ex’s choice of partners, you may want to create a casual opportunity for a meeting of the two men.  This would ideally take place before you introduce your children to your new man.  Does you need his approval?  Well, he’s not your dad and you’re not a teenager so the quick answer is no you don’t.  But if you believe that any objections he may have wouldn’t be coming from a place of jealousy or desire to see you unhappy and alone, then it may be wise to ask him what his specific objections might be.  If he is your children’s father, he certainly has a right to voice an opinion about a person who is potentially going to spend a great deal of time with them, just as you do with a woman he dates.

            When should you introduce your children to someone you’re dating?  Not quickly!  Of course, the answer depends upon your children’s ages and levels of maturity, but a good rule of thumb is to make a casual introduction after the two of you know each other very well and are on the road to a serious relationship. Having new men in and out of your children’s lives is very confusing and damaging.  Don’t subject them to creating a bond with a man—and perhaps his children—only to have your relationship disappear.  It may be tempting to try to build a new, blended family with a man and his children, or to think that your kids need a man in the home, but this type of premature thinking can cause much more harm than good for the children who are now your number one priority.

            Yes, there are many questions and potential hazards to navigate when dating post-divorce.  Just take it slowly and keep your head straight.  Don’t date out of spite for your STBX or to prove your worth after a painful split.  You are more than enough just as you are.