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What’s it’s Like to Date as a Divorced Parent

Meet Jaimie Seaton. She’s a writer and editor who’s been published in The Washington Post, Oprah’s O Magazine, and Marie Claire. She’s also a divorced mother of two teenagers navigating the dating world. We caught up with her to find out what it’s like dating as a divorced parent.

Tell us a little about you?

I live in New England. I’ve been technically divorced since 2016, but my husband actually left me in 2012. It took us a while to finalize the legal part. My children are now 19 and 16, so my son is at home while my daughter is away at college. I’m 54 years old and I was 34 when I married my ex-husband, so I’ve dated quite a lot.

What does your dating life look like and how has it evolved since your divorce?

I definitely believe there is a learning curve with dating after a marriage ends. In the beginning I was really hopeful and optimistic, and that made me very open. I think I was naive in that I assumed that I would take up dating where I left off, but I stopped dating in my early thirties. I was not the same person at 47. I had baggage, children, a routine and responsibilities. But it was refreshing because all the men I dated had the same issues. So dating was a whole other ballgame.

At this point, I am much more realistic about dating- about who I am and who my potential partners are. The years of middle-age dating taught me that there are a lot of men out there who aren’t healthy enough to date or don’t have the best intentions. I’m sure men will say the same thing about women. It’s tough out there, period.

What’s different for you about dating after divorce versus before?

The difference is that my children always enter into the equation. For instance, I won’t date a man who doesn’t have children, because only parents can truly appreciate that my children come first. For instance, if I have to cancel a date at the last minute because of something with my children, I know a parent will understand just as I would understand if a man cancels on me.

Also, when I was younger the possibilities were endless. There were so many men and I had so much time. Now I come with two children who I always put first. I know that there are not endless possibilities; there are actually few possibilities. In some ways that makes me less picky. I really want to find a partner for the rest of my life, and I realize that the person may not be perfect in every way. They may not offer everything on my wish list – and that’s okay. I’m not going to offer everything on their list. I’m looking for the bigger picture. Do we share enough traits? Can I see myself making room for him in my life?

Jamie Seaton. Photo by Morgan Lieberman © 2018 All Rights Reserved

What are particular concerns or considerations you have dating as a mother?

The first concern is safety. After that, it’s not having a revolving door of men. Children are naturally protective of their parents. I don’t want my children to have to experience every nuance of my dating life. That’s a big emotional investment for them, and they have their own emotions to take care of. Now that they are teenagers, I do tell them about dates, but they never meet them. I wouldn’t bring someone home unless we were getting serious.

Are there things that have surprised you about dating as a divorced woman?

I’m not sure if this has to do with being a divorced woman. I’m surprised at how much the men I date bad-mouth their ex-wives on the first date. It’s definitely not the first thing I want to hear about. It’s never good form to bad-mouth the mother of your children, even if it was a tough divorce. I’m also surprised that when I tell men about the unusually good relationship I have with my ex-husband, it seems to bother them. To me, the goal in divorce should be an amicable relationship, so I don’t understand why it would threaten someone.

What advice would you give those in similar situations looking to get back into the dating pool?

My advice would be to go very slowly and be cautious. When we are first going through a divorce our emotions are all over the place. It’s not the best time to make big decisions. Our judgment might be a little off. Men are going through the same thing. It can take a long time to get over a divorce. My advice is to be patient with yourself, don’t rush into anything; don’t believe everything someone tells you. Take care of your own heart, but try to stay open.

Anything else you think we should know?

The most upsetting part of dating at this age for me has been how little the men seem to care about the date. I always get dressed up for a first date. I want to look pretty and make a good impression. With very few exceptions, the men I’ve dated don’t seem to care. I’ve been on dates where the man showed up in workout clothes. The message it sends is that I’m not important enough to put in the effort. It’s a huge turnoff.

The second thing I’ve been shocked at is that men my age don’t want to pay for dates. I understand the younger generation splitting the tab, but on a first date, I expect my date to pay. If the man can’t afford a fancy dinner, he can invite me for a drink, or even a cup of coffee and a walk. The cost isn’t important; it’s the effort and thought behind the date. The last three dates I’ve had all expected me to pay for my half, which was embarrassing and insulting. Needless to say, I didn’t go out with any of them again.

Connect with Jaimie through her writer pages on Twitterand Facebook.

Cara Strickland writes about food and drink, mental health, faith and being single from her home in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys hot tea, good wine, and deep conversations. She will always want to play with your dog. Connect with her on Twitter @anxiouscook.