312.782.2220 Make A Payment contact us

Introducing Your Children to a New Significant Other


Published on May 15th, 2021

It can be both thrilling and terrifying to date again after a divorce. However, recently divorced parents can struggle to find the best way to introduce their new significant other to their children. A new relationship might signify yet another adjustment your children may have to make. Weighing the new normalcy you have created for your children versus your desire to move on with your life can be a difficult balancing act.

While every family is unique, there are many ways you can help ensure that the introduction of your new significant other is as successful as possible. Being open about the relationship can be the first step, but the manner and timing of an introduction should be handled with the utmost care. Waiting for the right moment and circumstances will pay off for everyone.

Don’t Move Too Quickly

When your new relationship progresses, it’s understandable to want the people closest to you to meet your new significant other. When it comes to your children, though, it’s best to be very clear about your motives before considering an introduction. Would your partner be a good long-term fit for your family? Others might not share your positive feelings about this particular choice. Scheduling a meeting prematurely might cause discomfort in your children and may strain your relationship with your ex. The latter is not as big of a concern as the former because your ex may always harbor ill feelings and jealousy toward you. That said, being mindful of your ex’s behaviors should still be a factor when you decide to introduce your significant other to your children.

If you are confident that you’re headed toward a long-term commitment, there is still no predetermined waiting period that will guarantee success. Ultimately, you will have to decide what is appropriate for you and your children. It might be helpful to talk to your ex before making any plans if you believe you can have a beneficial conversation with your ex. A conversation should be avoided, for instance, if you think your ex might attempt to sabotage your conversation or tell the children before you get a chance. Divorced parents can navigate the issue of dating by:

  • Agreeing to date when children are with the other spouse;
  • Settling on a waiting period before introducing a significant other to children;
  • Agreeing to discuss any introductions in advance; and
  • Waiting until it is clear this will be a long-term relationship.

Timing Is Everything

How much have your children healed from the divorce? Bringing a new person into the mix should be done gradually and thoughtfully, without compromising your alone time with your kids. Be sure that you have allowed sufficient time for them to adjust to their new routines.

To determine the right timing for an introduction, consider how each child might react to your relationship based on their age, emotional cues, and other circumstances. If your children or you see a therapist, discuss the introduction with the therapist to get their insight. Younger children can become attached quickly to a new adult in their lives. Discussing the issue with them in advance can minimize any sadness or confusion they might experience. Children need to be reassured that you have plenty of love and attention to go around. Similar conversations might have to take place more than once, as feelings don’t often change overnight.

Tips for Arranging an Introduction

Once you are ready to schedule an introduction, arrange an initial meeting that will be brief and casual. Here are some steps to help your children feel as comfortable as possible:

  • Discuss in advance. Springing a meeting on them may make them feel resentful. Instead, ask if they want to join you and involve them in choosing a location.
  • Get their input. Solicit your children’s ideas about how and when to meet your new partner for the first time.
  • Don’t force a meeting. If a child says no, set aside the idea for a later date.
  • Go somewhere neutral and informal. Going out for ice cream or meeting in a casual restaurant will feel more natural and comfortable for the kids.
  • Have a follow-up conversation. Ask them how they felt about the experience and if they have any questions.

If your new significant other also has children, it is probably in your best interest not to include your significant other’s children in the mix quite yet. Take your time before setting up another outing. The first few visits can be a chance to see how your children react to your new romantic situation.

In rare cases, an ex-spouse might attempt to forbid an introduction. They can argue to an Illinois divorce judge that you need permission from the court before a meeting can take place. In many cases, there is no legal basis for them to prevent the introduction. However, this typically happens when an ex-spouse believes contact with their ex’s new significant other could be harmful to a child’s mental, physical, or emotional health. If you are struggling with the issue of post-divorce dating, a counselor or family law attorney can provide guidance and steer you in the right direction.

If have questions about dating after divorce in Illinois, contact a Davis Friedman attorney online or call us at (312) 782-2220 to schedule a consultation with one of our family law attorneys.

Have questions? Contact us about working together.

312.782.2220 or Contact Us