Divorce is often considered to be one of the most stressful events a person can go through in their lifetime—and for good reason. When you’ve planned to spend the rest of your life with someone, a change in those plans can feel devastating and life-altering.
The good news is that there’s always hope of finding true love again. While dating after divorce can understandably seem scary at first, moving forward and getting back out there doesn’t have to be.
How to Start Dating After Divorce
Here are seven things to keep in mind if you want to start dating again after a divorce.
1. Allow Yourself Time to Grieve
A divorce feels a lot like grieving a death, and in many ways, it is. Allow yourself time to mourn the loss of your relationship, the loss of that person in your life, and perhaps even the loss of who you once were. As time passes and you’re intentional about grieving, processing, and dreaming of the future, your heart and life will heal.
Everyone handles grief differently, and no two timelines are the same. While you may feel tempted to compare yourself to other divorcés and how they’re navigating their newly single lives, try to refrain from doing so. Other people may appear okay on the outside when in reality, they could be struggling on the inside.
Take as much time as you need to be sure that you’re ready to get back out there.
2. Don’t Jump Back Into the Dating Pool Too Quickly
After you have taken the time you need to process your thoughts and emotions, you can then start to feel excited as you begin to think about the next possible steps in your life. As hopeful as you may be, it’s important to take your time to get back in the dating pool.
This added time and space will allow you to know what you’re looking for before you start dating again. If you’ve ever been grocery shopping without a list and while you’re hungry, you likely can relate to why it’s best to go into the dating world with a good plan in mind.
If you begin dating before you’re truly ready, you may soon discover that you have some emotions that you’ve not given yourself enough time to sort through. Alternatively, maybe you meet someone you really connect with, yet the timing ends up not being right because you are still needing to devote lots of bandwidth to grieving and healing.
It’s unfair to the other person who may end up really liking you if you’re not truly ready to begin another serious relationship. It’s really worth it to you (and your future partner) to take this part of your journey slowly.
3. Consider Therapy
As you take time to grieve, consider finding a licensed therapist who specializes in divorce. A therapist will be able to help you work through your emotions and provide you with coping mechanisms to deal with what you are feeling.
Therapists can also help you manage other parts of your life that may be impacted by the divorce, like your other familial relationships, feelings of self-esteem and confidence, and financial situations that are in flux. All of these life areas contain the after-effects of a life-changing event like a divorce.
While leaning on your friends and family during a major life event is important, it’s helpful to speak to a professional, unbiased third party who can effectively guide you through this chapter in your life. A good therapist will help you evaluate your past relationships, reframe your thinking, and shift your perspective.
When you begin dating again, a therapist can help you see potential partners as their own person and not view everyone through the lens of your previous partnership. With some time and self-reflection, you’ll be able to look toward your journey ahead with hopeful anticipation and clarity of mind and heart.
4. Evaluate Where Your Relationship Went Wrong
While you begin to turn the page to a new chapter in your life, take into account where your relationship might have gone wrong.
According to relationship counselor Margaret Paul on Mindbodygreen, “All relationships have a system that we are each 100% a part of, and unless you understand what you did that contributed to the failure of the relationship, you will repeat the same behavior in the next.”
Understanding why your marriage came to an end will help you in your future relationships. Perhaps you’ve struggled with trust in your marriage, or maybe you tend to be a bit controlling. Take the opportunity to work through the parts of yourself that you’d like to change so that you can be your best self for the right person when he or she does come along.
Working on your relationship skills with a therapist is a helpful way to get back to feeling your best.
5. Determine Your Relationship Non-Negotiables
As you begin to feel ready to get back into the dating scene, begin thinking about what your non-negotiables are. A non-negotiable is a quality someone must have to be the right fit for you.
When trying to determine what your non-negotiables should be, think of what you felt you were missing in your marriage. Maybe your ex wasn’t very romantic, and a passionate partner is a non-negotiable for you. Perhaps your previous partner lacked emotional maturity, and that is something you must have in any new relationship.
Don’t allow yourself to compromise on whatever you decide your non-negotiables are. You deserve not to settle for less than what you’re looking for!
While a common saying about marriage is that love is all about sacrifice, do not sacrifice so much that you end up losing yourself along the way. Your time of transition is the perfect opportunity to find someone who is the right fit in your life and not try to make someone fit into what you’re looking for.
Seek out the people who check all your boxes. Even if finding the one takes some time, lifelong compatible love will be worth the wait!
6. If Kids Are Involved, Consider Their Feelings, Too
Divorce can be a bit more complicated if you have children with your ex. All children can be impacted by divorce at any age, from infancy to adulthood. So, if your children are older, it’s important not to assume that the divorce will not impact them as much as if they had been younger.
Listen to your children and allow them to ask questions about your marriage, what their living situation may be like if applicable, and how the separation will impact them. If you are in therapy, speak with your provider about options for your children. Perhaps they may have a colleague who specializes in working with children of divorce.
When you decide you’re ready to date again, consider the feelings of your children. Speak with them about your decision and encourage them to come to you with any feelings or questions they may have about what is happening.
One highly recommended tip by professionals is that you not introduce your children to your new partner until the relationship is serious. A good rule of thumb is usually after about three to six months of exclusive dating, according to healthychildren.org.
7. Enjoy the Journey of Expanding Your Horizons
When you decide you’re ready to date again post-divorce, get back out there and have fun! If you’ve been married for a long time and find yourself newly single, the dating world may look much different than the first time you navigated meeting potential matches, so give yourself grace if you don’t connect with someone right away!
Try online dating as well as asking your friends and family who know you best to set you up with someone. Say “yes” to people you may otherwise not go for, as you may be surprised to find yourself really enjoying their company!
Remember your relationship non-negotiables and be gentle with yourself. One week you may feel like going on a couple of dates while the next you may not feel up to making any date plans. Either way is totally okay!
Allow yourself to consider your feelings and decide with yourself in mind, and don’t forget to give yourself extra patience as you navigate your new surroundings.
When re-entering the dating pool after being out of the water for a period of time, keep in mind that you may be experiencing any range of feelings, from hesitation to excitement.
Whether you have children or if you feel even partly responsible for the divorce, give yourself grace as you consider what you’d like this next chapter of your life to look like. The golden rule to dating after divorce is to be patient. Try to relax and have fun along the way!
Enjoy experiencing new places, meeting new people, and exploring new hobbies. Let yourself enjoy the ride, trusting that as you engage in the best way you can—learning and growing all the while—you’ll find the right person at the right time.
Featured photo credit: Wiktor Karkocha via unsplash.com
|||^||Mindbodygreen: How To Start Dating After Divorce: 13 Rules From Marriage Therapists|
|||^||healthychildren.org: Dating After Divorce|
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