How to Cope When a Parent Starts Dating Again

When a parent starts dating, it can be tough for adult children to cope. Use these tips to navigate these emotional challenges.

Positive senior couple taking selfie

If you are an adult child struggling with a parent’s new dating life, you aren’t alone. It can be emotional for both parties. A parent may begin dating for a variety of reasons. Often the death of a spouse or divorce leaves them single again.

While divorce among retirees used to be rare, that has changed in recent years. In fact, it’s become so common a new term has been coined to describe it—grey divorce. Research shows today’s adults age 50 and up are divorcing at twice the rate of past generations. From women having careers that led to greater financial security to people living longer, the reasons for divorce are varied.

Whatever the cause, when a parent begins dating it can be tough for an adult child. When a surviving parent has a new relationship, it can be especially emotional. The grief and loss you feel about your parent’s passing may resurface, even if considerable time has passed. You might also feel like your deceased parent has been forgotten.

Here are a few things to try if you are having a difficult time with your aging parent’s new chapter in life.

Suggestions to Consider When a Parent Is Dating

  1. Understand your emotions: What about your parent’s dating is most upsetting to you? Are you worried your parent will be hurt or taken advantage of? Does their new relationship feel like a betrayal to your other parent, even if they are deceased? By being honest with yourself, you might be able to work through your fears and concerns. Everyone, including a family elder, deserves to be happy.
  2. Discuss potential safety issues: The dating world is probably a lot different than the last time your parent was part of it. As concerns about COVID-19 persist, there is an added layer to be mindful of. Fortunately, technology has made it easier to connect virtually before meeting in person. If your parent doesn’t do so already, encourage them to “meet” new people via Skype or Zoom. These video chat services allow them to talk nearly face-to-face. Ask them to never meet anyone new in person unless it is in public and you are aware of it.
  3. Honor your parent’s hopes: Most adult children cringe at the very idea of hearing intimate details of a parent’s dating life. While it’s important to set boundaries, it’s also vital to listen to and honor their hopes and fears about the future. By actively listening to them, you might also find it easier to understand and come to terms with the situation.

Build New Friendships at The Wesley

Older adults who are suddenly single may find themselves struggling to meet new people. Encourage them to pursue a new hobby, volunteer for a local charity, or join a senior center. It might not lead to a romantic partnership, but it will likely expand their circle of friends.

One more way a senior can build their social network is by moving to an independent living community. Designed to promote active living, residents enjoy a variety of events and activities on-site. Even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, residents have opportunities to connect and socialize. Contact us today to learn more!