Dating how tos

Whether you're six months post-divorce or six years, there is no "right" time to start dating. If you're dying to get out of the house, call your girlfriends for a night out. If you're looking to get your heart pounding, try some cardio.

"Perhaps a better question than when is why," says Christine Baumgartner, relationship coach at The Perfect Catch. Expecting dating to fulfill all your needs is unrealistic and might attract (or cause you to accept) people who aren't right for you.

And Baumgartner says that single parents need to consider that this may be true.

"In my coaching practice, I suggest that single moms do the inside work to get really clear about their wants, needs, values and beliefs and get in touch with their intuition," says Kerri Zane, single-mom lifestyle expert and author of It Takes All 5: A Single Mom's Guide to Finding the Real One.Once you've decided that you're ready to date, it might feel impossible to find the time.Don't have shared custody or family or friends in the area? You're older now, hopefully wiser, and have kids to consider.You can't date the same way now as you did in your twenties, Baumgartner says.Getting back into the dating game as a single parent can seem daunting. Our relationship experts help you navigate the single-parent dating scene. " Sometimes, Baumgartner says, the voids in your life may be better filled in ways other than dating.

How much should you tell your kids -- or the cutie across the table?The children may already feel they lost one parent in the divorce, Baumgartner says, you don't want to put them through another loss if this relationship ends.It's also important to consider the age and personality of your children.For the timid or busy, it's a great way to get used to the idea of looking for love without the pressure.Whether you're looking for a fling, a ring, or something in between, remember that dating is part of the journey, not a means to an end, Zane says."As kids get older, you may choose to share more casual details about your new boyfriend," says Esther Boykin, a licensed marriage and family therapist and relationship coach outside of Washington, D. "But for younger kids it's often best to start by introducing the idea that you have a new friend who you like to spend time with." When you're finally ready for the first meeting, start with a casual group activity your kids enjoy, like a picnic at a park with friends who have kids.