I most often run into people dating while separated when they're separated themselves and involved with someone else who's separated too.A more accurate term for 'separated' in most of these cases would really be 'separating,' since few of these people are actually through their divorces or have completely ended their previous relationships.Meet on neutral territory, such as a park, a skating rink, an ice cream parlor, not at home. Perhaps she blames her mother for the divorce and was letting loose her true feelings.Keep it casual "A new friend is going to meet us there," not, "I want you to meet the man I date."Introduce your children to his/hers down the road, unless there's a natural intersection, and not at either home. Perhaps the subtext was, "I hate you because now I know things are going to change again"; "I hate you because this isn't fair to dad"; or "I hate you because I don't want someone to take your time away from me." Even teens harbor fantasies of parental reunions, so there could be some of that, too, Emery says."You assume your kids understand that mom needs a life outside of them. "He asked about him almost daily, for months," she says. The problem is not that they get attached to a new person, but that exposure to a parade of new people creates the potential for more loss."At its heart, this is about trust," says psychologist Leah Klungness of Long Island, who specializes in single-parent issues.They don't."Mistakes 2, 3, and 4:* Introducing her children to the first man she liked.* Allowing him to spend time at the house, especially playing ball with her son, then 8.* Giving him a peck on the cheek one day as they parted. Children are likely to wonder, "Who can I count on to stay around? " Some blame themselves: "I'm not lovable." The more loss there is, the more distrustful they can become, including in their own future relationships.After a break-up, be sure you tell children, ''Feelings adults have about each other sometimes change.Feelings parents have for children never change.'' It only delays the inevitable if your child continues to have contact with a person after you no longer do.
With people marrying less and divorcing more, it's no wonder that the opportunity, and challenge, of dating while separated has become pretty commonplace.If a date can't pretend Wednesday is Saturday night, she's not a grown-up." Klungness is co-author of "The Complete Single Mother" (Adams).Other rules of thumb: Wait to introduce a person until you have seen him/her exclusively for several months. When Elaine's daughter screamed, "I hate you," it may have been simple embarrassment at her mother's intimacy, innocent as it was, or it could be more complicated, says University of Virginia psychologist Robert Emery, author of "The Truth about Children and Divorce" (Viking).Two weeks ago, on a night Shana was with her father, Friedman cooked dinner for the twins and the man she has been seeing exclusively for two years. "I'm very mindful and protective of their emotions."Overkill?