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If there's anyone who knows how stressful, awkward, and yet fun it can be to get back in the dating game after divorce, it's Kate Gosselin.
The 44-year-old mom-of-eight, who starred with her ex-husband, Jon Gosselin, in the TLC reality series Jon and Kate Plus 8, recently decided to put more effort into finding love - hence, her new TLC dating show Kate Plus Date.
As she tells GoodHousekeeping.com, she had only been on "two or three dates" since filing for divorce from Jon in 2009. Realizing that there were many single parents out there in her position, she pitched the dating show idea to TLC. Her attitude towards the whole thing was simply why not?
"I thought I would kind of take one for the team and experience all the amazing awkwardness, excitement, and learnings that it all takes," Kate says. "Because, honestly, it's that, or just accepting your singleness. And so, before I did that, I decided to give it a shot."
As fans who have been following Kate's journey on Kate Plus Date know, the reality star has really committed herself. Together with her twin 18-year-old daughters, Mady and Cara, and a matchmaker, Kate reflects on what happened after each date. Some of the outings ended up being fun, and some, well, were a bit more "challenging" and "awkward" than others.
"I didn't know what qualities I wanted, I really didn't know," Kate recalls. "It's not like I made a list."
Even though she didn't have any automatic no's, Kate explains that Mady and Cara were very vocal from the start about one particular quality: they really didn't want their mom to go for someone who already had kids.
"I understand why they feel that way, because I'm not enough to go around as it is in terms of being their mom," Kate admits. "That was their - that was the strongest deal breaker, I guess you could call it."
With that being said, Kate says that if she ever did meet Mr. Right and he happened to have kids, she wouldn't necessarily drop him because of Mady and Cara's concerns. In her opinion, it's not beneficial to "paint a picture of somebody" and close yourself off to everyone else.
"I don't want to rule anything out or anything in. I hear them, I validate their concern, I tend to agree with them," Kate begins. "But at the same time, there are a lot of things that fell into the pile of 'we'll deal with it when we see it.' If that's the only thing and this person is otherwise perfect, you know, it's on a case-by-case basis."
And that, she says, is where she's left it with her twin daughters for the time being. But how do the sextuplets - Aaden, Alexis, Collin, Joel, Hannah, and Leah - feel about their mom's dating escapades? It sounds like they're very supportive. In fact, Kate says that during the episodes, she's frequently Snapchatting and laughing with them, and they each have their own opinions on the bachelors.
Still, while Kate wanted to make sure Kate Plus Date was something she felt comfortable having her younger kids watch, she intentionally left her 15-year-olds out of the series.
"It just felt more age-appropriate to have Mady and Cara since they're 18, they're adults," Kate explains. "I'm hyper-sensitive due to experiences my kids have gone through. I want to be 100% as sure as you can be that the person is going to be around for a while. I didn't want them to be involved in the ways that Mady and Cara were."
And through Mady and Cara's honest advice and her dating adventures, Kate says she has learned so much - mostly, about herself. She now knows more than ever before the importance of trying to open up.
"It kind of renewed my faith in the human race to a degree," Kate shares. "I knew I was a guarded person, and untrusting and a huge thing that came out to me was how very untrusting and how guarded I am. It stared me in the face a lot. Even I didn't know I was that guarded."
So, was season one a success? Kate teases that it was "for a number of different reasons" (wink, wink). Still, Kate says she'd absolutely love to do a season two - that is, after she's had her summer with Mady and Cara before they go off to college.
"It hasn't sunk in yet, their graduation was huge and momentous, and right now it feels like summer. I kind of like the denial of it right now."
On the bright side though, Kate says she doesn't have to worry about them doing one thing: dating.
"They're well-adjusted, responsible, level-headed good girls, and so I love that we're not sitting around and worrying about them dating," Kate declares. "They're more college-focused, and I like that."
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