What is step dating
Yvonne Kelly, MSW, RSW, a Certified Stepfamily Coach and Counselor and Founder of  The Step and Blended Family Institute discusses Step Dating  and how it relates to being in a stepfamily.

Step Dating is directly related to being in a stepfamily. Many of the dynamics are similar and it is actually the first step in the relationship continuum that leads to the remarriage of divorced singles with children. Which results in, you guessed it… a new step family.
Step Dating is a relatively new term coined to describe couples who are dating with children in the mix. It can represent two single parents dating or a single parent dating someone who doesn’t have any children of their own.  Either way, it results in the collision of two different worlds, and even though it starts with mutual chemistry and budding romance, it is often a bumpy ride for both dating partners and the kids.  No one is ever totally prepared for the challenges that come with step dating but it can be pleasurable and rewarding when couples do their homework and don't expect their love alone, to conquer all.

The realities and challenges of step dating are entirely different from dating without children in the mix.  Single parents have the added responsibility of finding a partner who could potentially be a good stepparent to his or her kids. Childless singles dating a partner with kids tend to be on a steep learning curve, trying to figure out what their role is with their partner’s child and more importantly, digging deep and trying to determine if they are prepared to be in a relationship that involves children. 

If two people continue their dating relationship they may find themselves in a serious relationship. They are now in the pre-remarriage or commitment stage of the relationship with critical and relevant decisions to be made.  It goes far beyond picking a honeymoon destination or the centerpieces for the wedding reception. The decision to embark on a new family life together necessitates the couple becoming informed and aware of the realities of step family dynamics as well as the potential pitfalls that can erode even the strongest love.

Suggested Action Steps:

  1. Learn as much as you can about what stepfamily life entails before moving to the next level.
  2. Articulate your vision of the relationship and the family that the two of you can stand behind and get excited about.
  3. Collaborate on a comprehensive family plan that takes into account the needs of each family member, while paying special attention to the following critical areas: Finances, role definition, relationship boundaries, how to deal with ex spouses, parenting (step parenting, co-parenting) styles, communication, and household management, etc.
The divorce rate among second marriages involving children continues to hover around the 60% mark, so we strongly encourage couples, whether they are in the Step Dating or Pre-Remarriage stages to seek out support and information to help them make their second chance at love, as successful as possible. And if you are already remarried and struggling with issues in your stepfamily, it is never too late to reach out and find new ways of rebuilding your family and relationships.

From Step Dating through to Remarriage one thing is certain: the relationships are more complex than those experienced in nuclear families  They require a new level of consciousness and commitment in order to be successful. For those who are aware of what is required and have the determination to make it work, it can be a truly rewarding experience. 

Yvonne Kelly, MSW, RSW
Certified Stepfamily Coach and Counselor
Founder of  The Step and Blended Family Institute
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The Step and Blended Family Institute www.stepinstitute.ca and The Relationship Coaching Institute www.relationshipcoachinginstitute.com are committed to bringing education and awareness to the importance of building conscious relationships and successful stepfamilies.  To that end we are Co-Sponsoring a Free STEP DATING Teleconference Event on Thursday January 22, 2009 from 9-11 pm EST.  Please check out this Event at www.stepdating.ca Once you register for the event, you will receive a Free Copy of the STEP DATING REPORT.  We encourage all singles, single parents, and pre-remarried or remarried couples to join us for a groundbreaking two hours of new information on the critical subjects of Step Dating and Remarriage in 2009.