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I’m a divorced mom of two. I recently finished my medical training, and am starting to think about dating again. I haven’t really dated since we broke up several years ago. My ex and I split equal custody and have a very close friendship and still spend a lot of time together as a family. I think this might be intimidating for potential dates. I love my ex and we have a really great, supportive situation for our kids, but we’re not romantic and give each other a lot of space. Is there any way to make this easier?
Dear Dr. Mom,
It sounds like in many ways, you have it made. Now let that havin’-it-made mojo attract the kind of person who will add magic and sparkle to your already full life, not make it harder. Many single parents would have an easier time of things if they were co-parent buddies with their ex the way you are. But I see how a newcomer to your situation might be a little bit challenged, since our culture doesn’t provide a lot of modeling for positive, reasonable relationships with exes, let alone close friendships. Dating while managing kids and careers is never easy for anyone, but you may have to employ a little extra patience for trial and error here bringing a new person into the mix.
When someone good comes along (a mature, observant, patient, reasonable person), they may be kinda weirded out, but they’re going to get right away that your situation with your ex is a positive, not something to be afraid of. Even if they feel some feelings about it, it won’t be a dealbreaker for them, because it works better for everyone when there is harmony with your ex and your kids. I’ve seen my share of the opposite, and nothing drives off sweethearts faster than unresolved, ongoing divorce drama. It’s likely that it will be a little weird for anyone entering any post-marriage kids situation no matter what the dynamic, and adjustments will take time.
If you do end up getting involved with someone who balks at you hanging out with your ex, the solution is simple: Be patient, but let them know that your kids come first, and anything that makes raising them better and easier (i.e. the friendly ex) is right up there. If they’re serious about getting with you, they will care about the well-being of your kids and will want you to be happy, and you guys can hammer away at any jealousy and attendant discord with loving good intentions. If they are fuckboi (or girl) material, you know what to do, Doctor.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 214.