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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21 Comments on "When Should Divorced Dads Introduce The New Girlfriend?"

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Recovered from a broken heart
1 month 29 days ago
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… Read more »
Mad Mother
4 months 13 days ago
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… Read more »
3 months 21 days ago

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.

9 months 3 days ago

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

9 months 3 days ago

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

1 year 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Jody Davis
1 year 6 months ago
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… Read more »
9 months 3 days ago
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… Read more »
2 years 21 days ago

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….

2 years 1 month ago
After the introductionI’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… Read more »
1 year 7 months ago
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… Read more »
2 years 1 month ago
what is best for my girlsI 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… Read more »
1 year 5 months ago
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… Read more »
2 years 1 month ago
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… Read more »