Jana Kramer on Taking Things Slow with Boyfriend Ian Schinelli: 'My Focus Isn't to Hurry Up and Get Married'

"I'm just trying to relearn things and he's very patient," the mother of two tells PEOPLE about her latest relationship, her divorce and new single "The Story"

Jana Kramer, Ian Schinelli
Ian Schinelli and Jana Kramer. Photo: Ian Schinelli/Instagram

Jana Kramer couldn't be happier with boyfriend Ian Schinelli — but she isn't rushing to the altar any time soon.

The country singer-songwriter opens up to PEOPLE about her relationship with the single dad and Navy SEAL reserve member, and explains that she's taking her time with her latest love. "It's going good, but it's very hard to be in a healthy relationship outside of a toxic relationship," Kramer shares about moving on after she and husband Mike Caussin split in April after nearly six years of marriage. "I'm just trying to relearn things and he's very patient."

Kramer, 38, is now a single mom to daughter Jolie Rae, 6, and son Jace Joseph, 3, and continues to make her children her top priority. "My focus isn't to hurry up and get married," she explains. "My focus is my kids and myself and continuing to heal and grow." While the singer and actress is "happy" right now, she doesn't want to risk "forcing or pushing anything."

After a number of high-profile relationships, Kramer is conscious about not sharing too much about her connection with Schinelli, 36, since making things Instagram official on Jan. 11. "I didn't post him in the very beginning because, realizing how invested people are, I don't want that pressure," she admits. "I had that with my last relationship and that was just too much."

The One Tree Hill alum is "more cautious now" about making things too public in case they don't pan out as she plans. "I know how embarrassed and burned I was in my last one, so the last thing I want is to blow this person up and then be like, 'Oh, he just went did X, Y and Z,' and have to dig my head in the sand," she adds.

While Schinelli is now a frequent presence on her social media, she says even a few days without his presence leads to an onslaught of breakup rumors. However, she refuses to "force anything to make people happy on Instagram" and notes that her beau, who works in private equity and does CrossFit competitively, is still adjusting to his newfound attention.

"He's like, 'I didn't sign up for the highlight reel — this is you and your world and I want to be a part of it,'" she says, adding that they've considered going private on Instagram to avoid continued speculation. The pair met at a children's party in October and Kramer has been most impressed by how he's won over her kids. "He's very hands-on with them, he's definitely been very helpful and the kids love him," she gushes, explaining that it's usually their idea to have him over.

And while her kids' approval over her beau is "cute," she confesses it also "starts to scare" her in case things don't work out. But when it comes down to it, Kramer is refusing to let hypotheticals get the best of her and believes that after surviving the last year, she can handle anything. "At the end of the day, my divorce didn't kill me and anything after that is not going to kill me. I will be OK, regardless of what happens."

To help her move on, the Dancing with the Stars alumna focused on her latest project: her new song, "The Story," which she used to explain to her young kids that she and their father were splitting up.

"It was like two weeks post-divorce and I was just like, 'I don't know how to explain this to my kids,'" Kramer recalls. "I want it to be a song for them to just know that I still love them. This is the story of how mommy and daddy aren't together anymore, but we still love you."

While Kramer has moved on from Caussin, she is careful not to speak ill of him around the kids and says she'll hold off telling them the full story of their split unless they ask when they're significantly older.

"They still love their dad, so when I have tough moments of being angry with their dad, I go to my friends and I go to my therapist, like I don't want to go to my kids about that," she says, calling songwriting a "very healing" outlet while dealing with her divorce. "When I wrote that song, at the time I was like, 'I ruined their perfect little family,' and now I'm like, 'You know what, we are a perfect little family'," she adds about coming to terms with her new reality. "I'm proud of our story and I'm proud of my happy family of three."

Kramer now feels like "such a happier version of myself" as well as a "better mom, better friend and better person without all the baggage from and the toxicity of my ex." Fans can expect more music this year, covering more of her breakup as well as life after, and The Holiday Fix-Up star has already warned Schinelli that he will be the subject of upcoming tunes.

"I did write a song about him the other day and I made a little joke, like, 'Right now it's a good song, so make sure you be nice because I will Taylor Swift your ass!"

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