The effect or lack of negative effect on children dealing with their parents dating after divorce or separation is dependent on a lot of characteristics. How difficult and emotional the original break-up was for a start. However, there is no reason why handled correctly that there has to be a negative effect at all. In fact, finding a new partner who is stable and who the person stays with for a long period of time can be extremely beneficial to the family group.
There are many things to consider when starting to date as a single parent. How old your child is, how stressful and recent your break-up with your ex-parter was, the relationship your children have with your ex-partner and a whole multitude of other things relating to your mind-frame and situation as well as theirs.
Having left a stable 12 year relationship without a massive deal of public rancour for a financially stable existence paid for by my full-time job, I had none of the fears or resentments of a stay-at-home mother. I was able to maintain our lifestyle to a larger extent and my ex and I agreed 50/50 care arrangements.
This care arrangement probably provided me with the greatest facility a single parent (and most often men) can have when they start dating again. That is that they are able to meet several people and then settle into a relationship with someone for a considerable amount of time without the need for my child to even know that they exist.
Until I was sure he was staying, that I wanted him to stay and it was time for my child to be introduced, I felt no need to introduce my new partner to my six year old. I didn’t have to, we saw each other when my child was with his father and spoke on the phone after my small person had departed for bed.
This one factor, I know having talked to others, particularly women whose ex-partners get access every other weekend find much more difficult. Often due to not living near parents who could have the children stay over for the evening have found their date on the door-step and nosey children peeking from behind babysitters, forcing an early introduction.
Children like routine, whatever age. If you can get the heady first few months out of the way without your child’s intimate knowledge then you can introduce a friend who is interested in them without resentful of the time that children inevitably take up when they are occupying the same room as their parents.
Your children do occupy a central position in your life and their happiness should be key to your world-view. Nonetheless you are allowed a private life of your own, but it has to be said that you are now choosing a new person for all of you now, not just you.
Although, this person is not necessarily going to be a parent surrogate, if all goes well they are going to end up sharing a house with your children for some of the time and needs to have the authority and keenness to share some of the responsibilities that an adult in a house of children holds.