I had the pleasure of speaking (by Zoom) a few weeks ago to the Single Moms Rising group, which is an incredible group of single moms led by Tasha Jasper that is focused on providing guidance, support and community for single mothers. You can learn more about the organization at Singlemomsrising.org or on their Facebook page at “Single Moms Rising Group.” In that session, which is the first of three I will be doing with the group, I was asked to talk about “Dating, Red Flags and Boundaries.”
Of course, in order to identify red flags in the relationship and set boundaries, you must be a healthy single person first. Remember, this is the next stage of your children’s lives too, and you have a unique opportunity to model for your own children how a healthy single person takes care of themselves and has healthy relationships. This does not mean you are dating “in front” of your children, but it means that your children are watching you. They will learn from you how to talk to yourself, how to take care of yourself, and how you want others to treat you.
How to be a healthy single person
- Know who you are (values, life goals, what you like and don’t like about everything, from food to movies). The more comfortable you are with yourself, the better dating will be and feel.
- Know where you came from. Understand your family, you parents, what happened in your previous relationship and how you contributed to it. If you blame your ex or are dating someone who is always blaming their ex, that’s a red flag.
- Know about yourself physically and sexually. Make peace with your past, honor your body, and love all of yourself.
- Know what healthy relationships look like. Understand what you have done in the past that contributed to unhealthy relationshos.
- Know that when you are in a healthy relationship, it may feel awkard at first. It will take practice to get it right.
The challenges of falling too hard, too fast
While 75% of those who divorce after a 1st marriage will remarry, the second marriage has a high rate of divorce (2 out of 3). That is often because the 2nd marriage is a rebound.
The more lonely and less affection you have received in the past, the more at risk you are of falling for someone too quickly. This is the boomerang effect. You go from one end of feeling lonely and unloved to the other side of thinking “I’ve found the one” really fast. It feels great, but it is usually not grounded in reality. As a result, it will burnout fast and leave you more hurt than before. As a result, the very best thing that you can do when you start dating again is to take things slowly. I know that is not what your want to hear. I understand that. As I tell my clients, you are going to do what you want to do, but taking it slow is still the best thing.
Children can force you to take it slower than you want to
Even if you have been in a very difficult relationship for many years, your children are not going to be as ready as you are to move on, and they will lag behind you. They process grief differently. They need more time to get used to the break up of the family and more time to get used to your relationship with a new person. So, don’t date in front of them early on, and give them time to catch up. At the same time, give your children lots of good attention and one-on-one time with you.
Rushing the relationship is a BIG RED FLAG for you
Whether you are doing this or your partner is doing this, it is usually a problem. You need time to get to know who the person is. People can present themselves however they want initially and keep it up for short period of time, but they can’t keep it up for a longer period. So while it is wonderful to enjoy the rush of a new romance, DON’T make decisions based on it or move too fast.
Not every relationship that moves fast is an unhealthy one, but almost every time that I work with or hear about a couple that has a high conflict breakup or divorce, it is not unusual that the dating period was rushed in some way.
Take your time. For you. For your children.
The next series is this Thursday, September 10, at 7pm on Zoom. We will be talking about “Love and the Single Mom.” Visit Singlemomsrising.org or the Single Moms Rising Facebook Group to learn more.