So, you’re finally ready to date.
It’s likely been a long, hard road to get to this point, but dating after divorce doesn’t have to be that bad. Of course, a lot of it has to do with how long you’ve been absent from the dating pool.
Dipping your toes back in may seem like a dismal prospect, but nowhere is it written that you have to jump in with both feet. If you’re looking for tips on dating after divorce, you’ve come to the right place.
Read on for some of the answers you’re looking for.
Jumping the Dating Gun
A bit of advice: if your separation is fresh or your divorce not yet finalized, it might be wiser to hold off on dating.
Jumping from the frying pan straight back into the fire is not in your best interest unless you’re just looking for a mindless fling.
This could still wreak havoc with your emotional state, so be wary. Make sure you’re ready to date and fully healed before taking the plunge.
All the Right Reasons
You should also try and sort out in your mind whether or not you’re returning to dating for the right reasons or if it’s from a place of anger.
Hopefully, it’s not out of revenge or a need to not be alone.
While loneliness is wretched, giving yourself time to get to know yourself better as an individual, rather than as part of a couple, can be a liberating experience.
This is especially true if you married young and didn’t have time to explore the inner you early in life.
Learning who you are can lead to a happier existence with yourself and others. Remember, no one but yourself is responsible for your happiness, so don’t expect anyone else to do it for you.
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The Expert’s Take
Christina Jones, LCSW said it best when referencing how long it takes you to get back in the game,
“More important than the length of time is what one does during that time, It’s important to be self-reflective and mourn the loss, as well as learn what one can ‘do’ better in their next relationship.”
Lack of self-awareness and the expectations you place on partners could have played a role in the demise of your marriage without your ever knowing it.
Whatever you do, don’t rush into dating anyone just for the sake of dating or to prove anything.
Slow Your Roll
Once you begin dating, go slow at first, there’s no need to rush things.
Take your time to test the waters, and don’t allow yourself to get swept away in the current.
Regardless of your age, there is someone out there for you, so quit worrying about your imaginary shelf life. Neediness is not an attractive quality in anyone, and people who are needy usually reek of it without even knowing.
Remember, you’re not going to end up alone if you don’t want to.
As far as your dating expectations are concerned, be reasonable about them. There is no prince or princess charming or some other imaginary savior who is going to come along and rescue you.
If you need rescuing, you’d better ask yourself why before you end up in another doomed relationship. You also shouldn’t go into each date with expectations of marriage.
It’s a date, after all, not a proposal.
Don’t put undue pressure on the act. He or she will undoubtedly sense it, much like desperation, and you don’t want a tentative relationship to end before it even starts.
Getting to Know You
Take your time to get to know each other before moving forward.
Some of the greatest and lengthiest unions have come about as the result of relationships that began as friendships. You already know their quirks and idiosyncrasies, so there are very few unexpected or unpleasant surprises.
Marriages like these also tend to be more stable because your relationship isn’t based predominantly on sex.
Yes, no one believes that theirs falls into this category in the early stages, but they often learn otherwise by the end of it. Once the sex ultimately decreases, what’s left?
When dating after divorce, it’s essential to recognize your priorities.
This means know what you want and what you don’t want in a mate and life in general.
While it shouldn’t be my way or the highway, because inflexibility seldom works in partnerships, you should still be aware of what you’re willing to accept in a partner and the life you’ll be leading together, should things get serious down the road.
Family & Kids
Before you rush into introducing your new flame to your parents, siblings, or kids, take a step back and ask yourself if it’s really the right move or are you just getting ahead of yourself.
This maneuver could send the wrong message as to your true intentions and possibly scare your new romantic interest off.
Worse yet, if you introduce them to your children and it doesn’t work out, there are their feelings to deal with as well. They’ve already gone through the sting of loss and separation once.
The last thing you need to do is introduce it again.
Amy Morin, LCSW and author of “13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do,” says,
“Spend at least 6 months getting to know someone before you introduce them to your children. Introducing someone too soon can be confusing, anxiety-provoking, and troubling to children. Make sure that you know your boyfriend well and give him the chance to prove he’s in this for the long-haul before you bring him home to the kids.”
This advice obviously works both ways, regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman introducing a new partner to your kids, so bear that in mind.
And speaking of family and kids, don’t raise the subject of starting one up with your dates. It’s presumably far too soon, and you again run the risk of scaring the pants off of them, so try your best to refrain from nesting talk.
If the thought of starting all over again is too demoralizing, take your time and familiarize yourself with online dating sites and apps.
These give you an opportunity to ease back into the scene without putting yourself out there completely in person.
There are apps now for nearly every relationship situation, so investigate the types, how they work, and be cognizant of the fact that there are a lot of phonies out there.
Google the topic to prepare yourself and read the tips provided, so you’re up to speed on the subject before you begin. You can always read our articles on the most popular dating apps and online dating.
Trust your inner voice because it’s seldom wrong. If a red flag goes off in your head, listen up.
It’s trying to tell you something, so use your best judgment, play it safe, and act accordingly. Doing so can spare you a lot of hassles and wasted time, eliminate drama, and possibly even save your life, if not your sanity.
Stalkers and nut jobs abound both in-person and online, so be aware.
The ability to be honest with yourself regarding your past and what may have gone wrong, along with the role you played in it, can be priceless in avoiding the same mistakes twice.
Reflecting in an honest way can help you own it, overcome it, and move forward, allowing you to grow as a person. Even when it’s difficult, we should never turn down an opportunity for growth.
Don’t misrepresent yourself or your situation.
Stop second-guessing yourself or playing the blame game.
Beating yourself up will only bleed into your next partnership. Besides, it’s too late. It’s all in the past, so do your best to recognize what went wrong and then accept it.
All you can do is work on the future, so you don’t make the same mistakes again. Remember, you’re only human. Learn from your mistakes—even if it was just your choice in mates— and move on.
Otherwise, you’ll just end up making yourself sick.
Let it Go
Speaking of which, as much of a nightmare as your ex might have been, you have to let go of your anger and hurt and push forward.
Holding a grudge or hanging on to hate is a full-time job that will eat you up inside and destroy you eventually.
It’s bad for both your physical and mental health, and you will definitely drag that baggage into your next relationship, if you have one, so let it go already.
If you can’t, seek the help of a professional counselor or licensed therapist.
The good, the bad, or the ugly, do not under any circumstances bring up your ex while on a date as far as table talk.
It’s called TMI (too much information) and sends the signal—right or wrong—that you’re not over them yet, or you’re bitter, or both, none of which is good.
While you’re at it, resist the temptation to inquire about your date’s ex or what went wrong there as well. It’s prying and way too soon to be so presumptuous, so chill out on that front.
It’s just good manners and common sense to avoid these subjects.
If you’re still feeling a bit wobbly on your feet, remember there is nothing you can’t accomplish if you try, and that the only thing holding you back is you.
No matter how much they did for you, your ex did not define you. Although you may feel zapped right now, you are capable. If you did let them run the show, then start taking command of your own life.
After a divorce or death, many women have no clue of their finances or where important legal documents are kept. The same can be said of men who deposit their checks into the joint account without ever having to pay a bill personally.
While it may be convenient to cede this kind of control, it’s not in your best interest, so stand strong and make a change for the good.
It’s better to be informed than kept blissfully in the dark until you have to stand on your own two feet.
It’s critical that you remain optimistic—particularly if you’re planning on dating after divorce.
Optimism and a positive outlook are vital ingredients to getting your life back on track.
Bear in mind that as corny or clichéd as it sounds, positive really does attract positive in life, and negative attracts negative. One common trait among successful people is to eliminate their associations with negative people.
That’s because negativity can permeate into every aspect of our lives, and who wants that.
Also, don’t BS yourself into believing that you’re not negative but merely realistic. It’s a fine line you don’t want to tread. Always try and see the sunny side, and it will appear.
By the way, this isn’t to suggest that you become delusional. Use your common sense and ask for feedback from trusted friends and family members if you’re unsure.
You might just be amazed at the impact it can have on your life for the better.
Divorce and breakups can do a real number on your trust and self-esteem.
If you have issues with it now, work on it before you begin dating again. This is just more baggage that you will inadvertently drag along with you into every new relationship you enter, and they don’t have to be romantic.
Trust issues leave you feeling insecure and wary all the time while negatively affecting those that try to get close to you.
Recognize the fact that it’s your problem, not theirs, and that it is unfair to project it onto someone else. No one said it would be easy, so seeking help is recommended if you want to see yourself clear of these issues.
Take the Reins
Begin doing things that bring joy and happiness into your life. Once again, you are responsible for this portion of your life, so own it.
Here is a brief list of ideas to help you accomplish this goal:
- Learn Something New — Take a class or classes that expose you to new things or something you’ve always wanted to learn. It could be a foreign language, cooking a new dish, or how to paint. This is an excellent way to lift your spirits and renew your self-confidence.
- Challenge Yourself — Learn how to change a tire or fix a leaky faucet. If you’re afraid of something, overcome your fears. If you’ve always wanted to try something adventurous, do it. The point is to let yourself live and enjoy it.
- Pamper Yourself — Maybe a little TLC is in order for restoring your faith in life or that sunny outlook that’s so important. If a little pampering can lift your spirits, then arrange it.
- Put Yourself First — Unless you’re guilty of making everything about you—which few people would admit or recognize in themselves—try putting yourself first for a change. The restorative effects are amazing and liberating all at the same time. If you’ve never done this before, it may have something to do with the problems you experienced in your marriage. Remember, you’re important, too.
- Change it Up — Consider getting a new look. It doesn’t have to be to yourself. Sure a new hairdo or a change in wardrobe can perk things up, but you could also rearrange your furniture, paint the walls a color you’ve always wanted to try but didn’t have the guts. Go crazy. Nothing is permanent in life, and you can always change it back if it doesn’t suit you.
- Take a Trip — Whether it’s extended or a mini-vacay, few things get you out of your rut like traveling for pleasure. Book a cruise with your pals, take a road trip, jet off to Tahiti. The point is to enjoy yourself—just don’t break the bank or use the experience to escape reality.
Treat Yourself Well
Finally, it’s important to note that how you see and treat yourself is a cue for how others see and treat you.
Since you’re considering dating after divorce, this one thing more than almost anything else will dictate your future relationships.
Be sure those relationships are healthy ones because you’re steering the course from here on out.