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Ruwa Sabbagh, a registered psychologist, suggests you ask yourself the following five questions before dating someone who has children and to avoid getting too attached.
1. Does he have good boundaries with his ex?
You will want to find out what kind of relationship the person you're getting involved with has with his or her ex. Are they in each other's lives only to co-parent their kids or do they seem to have other ties that keep them so close that your relationship doesn't have enough room to flourish?
"The problem is that you find these things out only as you go along in the relationship," says Sabbagh. She suggests asking your potential partner the following questions about the time he spends with his ex.
• How often do you see the person?
• How do you spend time together?
• Do you socialize?
• Do you ever meet to talk about things other than your children?
"It's not going to be something you ask on your first date, but you want to keep these things in mind while in the relationship," Sabbagh advises.
2. Can you tolerate having the person's ex in your life?
When you're dating someone who is raising a child with an ex-partner, you need to realize that their relationship is not like a breakup where they never have to see each other again. In their case they might have to keep in touch on a weekly or even daily basis.
"This person you're considering dating is going to have an ex-partner who will be in their life for the rest of their life. When their child is younger more so, but it will lessen over time," Sabbagh explains. "Ask yourself if this is something you want. Can you do it?"
It's important to come to terms with having your potential partner be in regular contact with his ex in order for your relationship to work.
Page 1 of 2 -- Check out three more things you should consider before dating someone who has kids on page 2
3. Can you tolerate coming second to his or her kids?
It's not wrong for you to want to come first, but it is important to come to terms with the fact that you aren't going to be the priority 100 per cent of the time. In fact, the children will come first most often.
"The kids are always going to take priority. The parent will choose to tend to the child's needs, and you're going to have to forgo that dinner you were planning or that weekend trip," says Sabbagh. Ask yourself if you can handle stepping aside when there's a recital, soccer game or parent-teacher conference. "What are your own needs? Are you getting them met? Can you be flexible? Can you talk about disappointment in the relationship?" she asks.
If you can be OK with the fact that things will come up with the child that might not be preventable and feel comfortable talking about your feelings with your partner, that's a good sign for the relationship.
4. Can you be a parent figure without wanting to replace the other parent?
While it's tempting to want to create an immediate family unit, be wary of overstepping your boundaries. "It won't be healthy for the child in psychological ways if you try to replace the other parent," Sabbagh warns. You can still be a very important adult and guide in the child's life, but you have to be mindful of wanting to replace the parent and you should always respect that there is that other parent in the child's life, she explains.
5. Do you like your prospective partner's approach to parenting?
Observe your potential new partner with his child and look at your own reactions to the way he parents, advises Sabbagh. "You may have a very different approach to parenting, so this is an opportunity to see how he will parent any children you may have together," she says.
Ask yourself how you feel about the parenting methods you're seeing and whether they jive with your own ideas of how a child should be raised. If you aren't comfortable with what you see, that could be a potential red flag and wedge in the burgeoning relationship.
The idea of a partner who has a child in his or her life might seem simple enough, but you really need to check in with yourself to ensure you're OK on all fronts before letting yourself get too involved.
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