When Should Divorced Dads Introduce The New Girlfriend?

dating post-divorceBy Tara Lynne Groth

Divorce is the end of a relationship, but how soon should divorced dads introduce the next relationship to their children?

While co-parenting with their former spouse, adjusting to a new routine and establishing a separate household, dads may meet someone new whom they want to share their life and family with.

Children are adjusting too, and introducing a significant other too soon — or someone who is not a positive influence — can have damaging psychological and emotional effects.

Every mental health professional underscores the same rule: wait.

“Don’t hurry to introduce someone new to your kids,” says Aaron Welch, a licensed therapist with The Lifeworks Group in Winter Park, Fla. “The tendency is to be very excited that you’ve met someone you really like—especially after a tough divorce. Because of that excitement, people believe their kids will share that same feeling.”

Welch explains that children become attached to new people in their life. If the relationship doesn’t work out, then the bond the children established is broken. Kids begin to expect instability and will lose focus and attention in school work and their own friendships.

Welch is a firm believer in waiting until fathers and their new partners are committed for a long-term relationship.

Even though it may take patience and time before children are introduced to a new partner, should divorced dads even talk about their dating life?

According to Dr. Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. (aka “Dr. Romance”), licensed psychotherapist and author of “The Unofficial Guide to Dating,” children should not have any clue that their parents are dating.

With 30 years of counseling experience, Dr. Tessina says, “Until the relationship is a serious one, children shouldn’t know about dad’s new partner.”

She stresses to fathers that they need to really think about what they’re looking for in a new partner. Fathers are not only looking for a partner for themselves, she explains, but also a stepmother for their children.

Dads need to learn as much as they can about their significant other before inviting them into their lives. And when dating, fathers should make it clear early on that they have children and they need to ask the right questions to learn exactly how their significant other feels about children.

If a father knows he’s found someone he can trust around his kids and is certain they will be present in his life for a long time, most experts recommend waiting at least six months before coordinating a meeting between children and the new partner.

Nancy Fagan, divorce consultant and owner of San Diego’s Divorce Help Clinic, says that six months is essential, but it must be six months of exclusive dating. For some families the time may be longer.

“If any of the children are still in pain over the separation or divorce, dads will need to wait longer,” Fagan says. This is to eliminate confusion while kids process their pain and grieve the loss of their former family unit.

Other situations prompt more time. Fagan stresses new partners who happen to be friends with the ex-wife, have a significant age difference, or are the first partner after a divorce are all very likely to upset children and the father’s former spouse. Relationships that share any of these features, more often than not, do not last.

If a father identifies with one of these situations, but they know their new partner is committed for the long haul and will be a good influence on his children, it’s best to wait much longer than six months to test the relationship on its own.

Read Related Article: “How To Introduce Your New Girlfriend To Your Kids


Tara Lynne Groth is a full-time freelance writer residing in Cary, North Carolina. Her work has appeared in places such as GO (AirTran Airways’ in-flight magazine), the Providence Journal and Chesapeake Family. Learn more about Tara by visiting her website www.taralynnegroth.com.

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24 comments on “When Should Divorced Dads Introduce The New Girlfriend?

    This is great advice I hope all divorced dads get this and follow it. Along with how to introduce the kids to a girlfriend. I have a stepmom blog that I do. I wish I could tell them this but by the time they join my group it’s to late they already met the kids to fast for some. Then they wonder why there is issues with the kids adjusting to the new stepmom. Great advice.

    Okay, I am a father of three daughters. Two of the three are adults living on their own. The third just turned 17 years old. The 17 year old sent me this article because she wants me to wait before I move on with my life. My ex wife left me with no warning. The way she left me sent me into a deep level of depression. I’ve now recovered and met the woman I plan to spend the rest of my life with. My daughter will be graduating from high school soon and moving on with rest of her life. In the meantime why should I put off moving on with my life. This article makes sense for parents with young children, but, what about parents of older children? I really think those who wrote this article should note that this advice does not always apply. My youngest daughter lives with me. She has never liked change. She cried and threw a fit once when we chose to sell a car she liked. Putting my new relationship on hold will have a more negative effect on me and my new partner than I think the addition of my new partner into my 17 year old daughters life. Some children resist change no matter what. Sometimes waiting to move on is like slowly removing a bandaid. Sometimes it is better to get painful things over with as quickly as possible. Unexpected things happen to us through out our lives. Nobody wants these things to happen. Just the same I think it is healthy for older children and adults to learn how to move on looking for a positive future instead of dwelling over a painful past. Articles like this should include the disclaimer that the advice given in this article may apply in most cases it is not always right for all circumstances.

    That’s a nice article excepts of that you are forgetting a woman. Yes, that woman who became a girlfriend of a divorced father. She is already sacrificing her interests because she has to maneuver around her boyfriend’s kids schedule, but it’s not the main issue. All these other psychologists, those that give advices to women, say: “Hey, if your boyfriend is not introducing you to your family and friends, it means he is not serious”. How should she feel about these six month? It’s her life too, she is trying to be happy, and she will not necessarily want to wait so much time only to figure out that she was just another temporary solution for a divorced man. And even if she was not, what is going to happen if kids will not accept her? Is she going to be dumped or sent back to her semi-illegal position when she already fell in love and got attached to a man? Why is it normal to hurt a woman only because you cannot prepare your kids to the fact that you are not going to spend the rest of your life alone? Come on, be responsible after all and either date when you know you can dedicate a part of you to your partner, or don’t date at all.

    That’s too darn bad. Kids come first always. I’m a woman and have been dating for that magical 6 months but I certainly will not be introducing my kids to a man who could potentially be in my life another six months. What happens to my kids then? They’ve become attached to this person and they are heart broken again? No way! You either have to go along with how the dad feels his kids are emotionally or don’t date a dad.

    This is my current agreement with my not even ex wife yet, our divorce is set for prove up on Tuesday but I found that she’s been dating a guy for a couple of months and has had our son who is only 5 already sleep at his house. But all she has to say is its part of divorce get used to it.
    So forget about our 5 year old still not used to the fact that he goes from house to house, now throw this guy into the mix? But I’m supposed to quote unquote get used to it!
    I applaud you CeeCee!

    Larry, I’m sorry! I feel for you. I had just found out about this woman he’d wanted to introduce to my kids. He said that “she was the one” after only meeting her online 6 weeks prior. And then come to find out from my kids that he’d lied and had already introduced them to my kids. At the time I had asked him to please wait at least until they’ve known each other six months, obviously why listen to me? He had already tricked me into signing an agreement where I get absolutely no support for our kids, and have to wait until they are 18 to get my share of the house AND I had to continue paying for his medical insurance meanwhile he earns more than half of me and I was forced to move into a bad town in a one bedroom basement apartment where I share a bed with my daughter and my son in a twin? And he said he was not in the position to provide me with support but yet takes her to broadway shows and dinner and spends money on her 3 kids. Um…. am I crazy???? I’m so livid!!!

    Ok this is my story i.have 3kids and my ex let.her.fiance move in my house that i bought everytime.i.pickup my kids.they.complain that.there mother lets him.punish them.i.called.her.and. told.her.tell.your.boyfriend my kids have a reall dad..tell.him.to.punish me not.my.kids because.i.know were he work’s.and.i will.give him.a giod.italian beating he.will.never come. Back.around my.kids.only in a wheel.chair.he disappear thank god

    Listen just because you devorced dont mean that your girlfreind can replace there mom trust me my kids dont call.nobody.mom. or dad just by name you. Tell.your.girlfreind your kids have a mom.they.dont.kneed another one.women.girlfreind.get.away.if.you.let them boss your.kids around dont let her do that.to.your.kids.if.she dont like say.goodgye find someone else.a.lot.of fish in.the sea.check.it.out. keep.your eyes.open.when girlfreind.is with you.and.them kuds.are special.they kneed only one.mommy.not two

    Hi I have been a single dad for 3 years now. I have custody of my 6 year old son. His mum does not want anything to do with him. I recently have found someone and she loves him. I am at a stage now where my boy asks for his mum. And I just don’t know what to say anymore. I would like to introduce him to my new found love that I am planning to marry in the next year. How do I introduce her to him. He knows her as she is an old family friend. Please help

    I am a woman who just started dating about 3months ago. He is a single dad of a 15 and 12 year old, the mother hasn’t been in the picture for 8-9years. She hasn’t been in the picture and doesn’t want to be ever. I have already met the kids they are awesome his daughter and I get along great. His 15 year old boy seems to want his dad all to himself. We are totally committed to one another, we emailed and text for almost two months before meeting. We really want to spend more time together and have even talked about moving in with each other. But it’s his 15yr old son that is the concern and is causing some problems between us, we are both willing to do whatever it takes for us to be together. But we do want everyone to be happy with this relationship. Help please

    Its hard especially girls dad tries to have kids call his girlfriend mom no way my kids call her fiance mr bob that.ist no calling daddy.they.know he not there father or mother.kids are special and.kneed reall parents not fake ones i.whach.my.kids because i have my brother follow them.were they.go sometimes men.or.womanm disappear with.your.kids i call them.every 30 minutes.and both of.my.kids if.they see they.going.to.far.they.tex me.without him.or her knowing.got to.be careful listen they kneed there mom.not a stranger because there no love better then mom you kneed to.worry.about.your kids men sometimes.have double.life and.and.you.you as a mom.get.supervise visation that means.a relative.will.be.with ypur.ex.to.make sure things dont go.wrong kids come first boyfreind.girlfreinds are just around to.be bossy.and nobody.can.love there kids.like reall mom and dad

    my long term partner walked out in January, and within 3 weeks moved in with a younger woman, by 23 years…..no explanation was given to the children..I had to do it after 5 months of waiting for him to do it. In the meantime my son sibbed himself to sleep and my daughter slept in my bed since the day her father walked out.
    My point is he made no effort to explain this new person, yet the children were expected to go and spend time in what was her house overnight…..obviously sleeping arrangements would become obvious….

    After the introduction
    I’ve been dating a recently divorced dad of two, ages 6 and 12 for the past 5 months, have known him for over a year, however had no involvement with him until after he was divorced for 4 months. We courted for about 1.5 months before bringing his kids into the picture, meeting as an aquaintance, not as dating. We didn’t make our dating official with each other until about 2 months into the courting process, at that point having actual dinners as “friends” with the kids. I’ve always gotten along very well with kids and bonded quickly with his. It’s been 5 months and we all have a lot of fun when we hang out. I’ve attended a couple of soccer games and hung out at their house once. However, dad has been doing a lot of research lately on when to introduce kids to the new partner and realized he may have jumped the gun. He has begun to withdraw and mentally punish himself feeling as if he has failed his kids. They are still in the healing stages of losing their mother. Both parents share the two equally in visitations, alternating days and weekends. Both are very involved in their lives. My question is what to do now that the introductions have been done?????? If I take a step out of their lives, my fear is it being a double wammy on the kids. Dad nor I know what is the best course of action now. I do not want the kids to hurt in any way and even though we all have a wonderful time together, wonder if some type of counseling should be done. I haven’t yet met their mom and have no issues with meeting her, life happens and I’m mature enough to know that people divorce. Anyway, your thoughts are appreciated, thank you… Signed, scared and confused!

    As a divorced mother of three my suggestion is to respect and support your “boyfriend”, allowing him to take his time going through this situation. He did jump the gun but you both were at least smart enough to introduce you casually as a friend and mostly in group settings. I think it’s important for their dad to concentrate his possession time to be exclusively with them. His children do not need to continue seeing you both as a unit. You will show your love to all of them by temporarily taking the back seat in this scenario for as long as is necessary.

    what is best for my girls
    I am a divorced dad and we have joined care of the girls, 7 and 9. They are from Friday to Friday with either mom or dad and we can have them any other time if it suits the other parent. They are very happy with this arrangement and they well balanced girls. We have dinners together with mom sometimes and mom and I get along very well. After I got divorced I was in another relationship for 5 years, but unfortunately we broke up. She still wants to see the girls. Should I keep her in the girls life? I only have the girls every second week and now I have to share the girls with my ex-girlfriend. The girls goes to her after school (like before) and then I pick them up from her after work. She also want the girls to sleep over a few nights and wants to take them out over the weekends. I am worried that this “three” homes will confuse the girls. Will I hurt the kids if I cut my ex-girlfriend out of our lives, to start a new life?

    I have the exact same problem…only WORSE! The ex-girlfriend of my new husband has only increasingly become worse, the further we advanced in our relationship…now she has even destroyed the great long-term parental relationship he had with the mother of his child, the child has now even been asking to see a shrink (she’s just barely 11 years old)….this ex girlfriend has gone crazy asking for vacations with the daughter, etc, etc….it’s a nightmare! And he has one adult child (32 years old) and she has manipulated him so much, it’s become miserable. Then she has used social media to bully me (but she’s very good at making sure his kids don’t see this behaviour, so they only see this sweet side of her, and not the devil side. Even some lifelong mutual friends of his and this ex-girlfriend have stated “the WORST thing you (my husband) ever did was allow the ex-girlfriend to remain in their lives”….please, please,please share any information on how to fix this out-of-control problem…someone PLEASE offer assistance to this problem….and George, what I say to you is DEFINITELY NO!!! Don’t allow the ex-girlfriend to stay in the picture with your daughters…in my situation, the ex-girlfriend has worked extra hard to block me (new girlfriend, now new step-mother) from being able to develop proper, healthy relationships with my step-children….it’s a horrible feeling!! Don’t put any future great woman in your life, through this misery…

    I found this article while trying to find info on how to help my girls adjust to the news my ex gave me today. He is planning on moving in with his new girlfriend of 4 months and her 3 kids and is going to *try* to get 50/50 custody of our daughters.

    We were divorced in 2012 after a 1 yr separation. Within 5 months of us separating and before we were divorced, he had introduced the girls (current ages 7 and 8) to a new girlfriend…they broke up weeks later. Within 2 months of that one failing, he began dating a new girl, but told the girls she was not his girlfriend, just a friend of his roommate. 1 month later, she moved in to his home. They still told the girls they were not dating, but that she was sleeping in his room until her bed arrived. They lived together from December 2012 until February 2014 and then he abruptly ended the relationship and kicked her out. In May of 2014, he met this new woman. They have only known each other and been dating for 4 months. She has 3 kids of her own.

    His current parenting time includes 1 overnight per week and 2 dinner dates per week.

    And now he says he wants 50/50 custody!?!?! I expressed my concerns to him regarding introducing ANOTHER woman (3 now in 2 years) and moving in with someone he has only known 4 months. I told him I was uncomfortable with my girls living with someone I have never met and I felt they needed to date for at least a year before moving in together. And that’s when he pulled the nasty name vocabulary out of his hat and rampaged on me.

    How am I supposed to help my girls grow up to respect themselves and choose decent men when they see their father womanizing and verbally abusing their mom!?!? Any opinions and input is wecone!

    My ex and I were informally separated for approximately three years before we filed for divorce. During the separation I had primary custody of our two children, ages 7 and 9, and they rarely saw their father (approximately 3-4 times per year). When they did see him, he would never take him to his home, but rather he would travel to them. Under the parenting plan executed as part of the divorce, he began taking the kids more often (6-8 times a year), and they were to stay at his home during the visits. After everything was finalized and our case was closed, but before the kids made their first trip out to see him, I discovered that my ex had been secretly co-habitating with another woman the entire time of our separation. Thus, the first time my kids travelled to his home, they met the new partner who he was already living with. I was reluctant to reopen custody issues at the time, even though I was livid, until I determined whether the kids would actually have a hard time with the situation. Now the kids are beginning to show signs of stress from all of it, and are asking a lot of questions about the nature of the relationship. Any advice is appreciated.

    I kneed a great mom for my kids in njits ruff raising kids.alone they kneedna mom.around.to.help.with.homework ckean there.roms.love them with all.your heart because.there mom was on drugs.and grandkidswithi.took.cousdady.and knned help witt a woman that has kids like the brady bunch how.do.i.find one for me and my kids ny ex waa doing drugs in the same house they were living in when i found out.i took her to court and took.my.kids from.her and they.can go to.her house got to.take them.to.a relative house that way they could do.harm to.them

    Its not good for him to lie to kids if you kneed to.let.him.see them.get supervise visation that way its better that.what.i do.because my ex tells lies about me

    I am not even divorced from my husband yet, he is moving a woman here from another state to live with him, we still currently live together, he has found a house to share with her and my kids. I still have not established a new home and we havent made custody arrangments. I am worried about the psycological effects of this new person being introduced so suddenly during this transition.

    My ex and I have been divorced for over a year and I started dating someone seriously roughly 8 months ago. She is the only woman I have dated since the divorce adn things are going fantastically – I don’t want to look anywhere else. I have 2 1/2 year old twins that are obviously the most important things in my life and I think that it is time to introduce them all – my ex seems to disagree. I wouldn’t want them in an intimate “just the 4 of us” setting, but at a family function or other social gathering where they aren’t getting to know her on a personal attachment level I don’t see the issue…any thoughts…

    New partner living arrangement
    It has been almost 2-years since I ended the relationship, my son was 4 at the time. We have joint physical custody and he spends equal time between the two homes. My partner of 5-months is going to move in and when my son comes over he will obviously see her. He has not met her, however he knows about her. Over the holidays he told me that I deserve to be happy and it is ok that I have a girlfriend.

    The mother is reluctant to the her meeting our son, even though she has never met her. (not a good idea as the ex is not that friendly). She has threatened to not allow my son to fly up to see me on my scheduled visitation. Flights are bought and paid for.

    Can she legally deny my son to fly and see me due to someone living with me?

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