How do you know if you are ready for dating after divorce? Whether you were married for one year or decades, divorce can leave behind pain and baggage. A failed marriage can make you feel like a failure, full of shame and regret. Sometimes it can take years of healing.
Before you take the plunge back into the dating world, make sure your mindset and emotions are ready. You can use the knowledge you gained from your previous relationship to hone in on what you want and desire, and what you don’t want from a new partner.
Do you have the right mindset?Before you start meeting new people or inviting the single dad or mom next door out for coffee, know where you are in your mindset. How are you coping with the divorce at this stage? Can you talk about your ex without playing the blame game or feeling guilt over the divorce?
You might still feel emotional at times about the end of your marriage, but your emotions should no longer dictate your behaviors. If you can talk about your ex with unbiased views and are no longer emotionally attached to him or her, you may be ready to start dating again.
Tips for dating after divorce.
Getting back into the boat can be a daunting thought. The landscape has changed. Do you meet someone new through a friend or a local group? Do you dive into the sea of online dating? Each has pros and cons; only you will know what works for your personality and lifestyle.
However, preparing your mind for whichever path you take is essential.
Taking time to heal is critical.
Refrain from feeling as if you need to rush into dating after divorce. It takes time to heal. Many people think they need to replace their spouse as soon as they separate, but this can prove to be a costly mistake. If you have not dealt with the problems and issues that led to the divorce, there is a chance that they will carry over into a new relationship.This is commonly known as a rebound relationship. Although first relationships after a divorce can last, rebounds often do not. When you are still hung up over your ex, allowing problems from the marriage to spill over into the new relationship, or you cannot seem to emotionally bond with your new partner, you may not be ready.
There is nothing wrong with remaining single for a period of time. You want to heal, assert your identity, and set boundaries. You need this time to remember who you are, not only the person you were before the marriage but the person you are right now, and who you desire to grow into. Seldom do we remain the same person after a deep relationship. Embrace who you are now and what you want and need in life and from a partner.
Know why you want to date again.
Why exactly do you want to date again? Is it that you are lonely? Do you need companionship? Get honest with your answers. You may need to keep asking yourself why to get to the truth, and when you do, sit with those emotions for a while; consider journaling these things to come back to and to help you reflect on your “why.”
For example, you think you want to date again because you would like a man who will adore and court you. Ask yourself why. Maybe it is because your ex never made those romantic gestures and you felt neglected. Why do you think a new partner will fulfill those romantic gestures? What if he doesn’t do them either or only sends flowers twice a year?
Perhaps the real reason you want to date is to feel as if you are wanted, seen, and heard. Make sure you are working on being the type of person who recognizes when someone is honoring them with their attention and when they are not. Again, a counselor can help you clarify your need for dating after divorce.
Be clear on boundaries and standards.If we marry too soon or are too young when we marry or come from a background with neglect and abandonment issues, we may not have a clear idea of our identities. If you do not know your identity, it is hard to set clear boundaries for others and standards for yourself.
As you grow older and begin to create this identity, your spouse may dislike the new boundaries. For example, it seems that suddenly the quiet, pushover wife is assertive. In reality, this is not a sudden change for you, but it can seem like night and day to others. Marriages can end when people finally understand, mold, and assert their identity.
Knowing who you are and what you want in a relationship after a divorce is even more critical. In addition, you need to know what behaviors are non-negotiable for you. For example, gambling, viewing pornography, smoking, or excessive drinking may all be non-negotiable behaviors that will cause you to end the relationship.
If it feels off, it probably is.
Intuition is that gut-pulling tug we feel when something is off. Have you ever been talking to someone and just felt like you needed to get away, almost like your spirit was picking up a negative vibe? Intuition (or discernment) is a sense God gave us to warn of danger. Many times, we ignore these feelings until it is too late.
When going into a new relationship, keep your mind open to the new person, but do not ignore your feelings when your gut tells you something is off. They say that hindsight is 20/20, and you may agree after a divorce. Were there red flags earlier in the marriage?
Pay attention to how a person behaves and speaks to you and others. You already know that the likelihood that a person will change to be the type of person you want and need in your life is slim. Look for a person who displays the traits you want in a partner. Keep your eye out for red flags.
Make it fun.
If you feel ready for dating after divorce, remember to make it fun. You might not be a teenager anymore, but your dates should not be stuffy dinners. Find common ground with the other person. Dinners are the standard, but what about coffee dates, bookstore runs, antiquing, outdoor sports, and mini golf? Movies are always an excellent choice for a date, but so are walks through a park, a trip to the beach, or a day at a theme park. Think outside the box for your dates.
Are there places you have wanted to visit but never took the time to explore? Would the person you are dating like to join you? For example, you might be surprised to learn that the other person has been dying to see the Egyptian displays at the museum or wants to attend the symphony orchestra but has been too busy. Now is the time to do something memorable together as you get to know one another.
After you feel that you know the person well enough to introduce them to your children, consider activities you can all do together. Choose family-oriented activities like theme parks, movies, family-entertainment restaurants, and trips to the community pool. The more exciting and out-of-the-box your dates are, the more memorable they will be.
At the same time, remember that there will be times when you both want to stay in, order pizza, and watch a movie together after a long week. When you can sit in comfortable silence and not feel awkward with someone, it could prove that a strong connection and bond is forming between you.
Are you struggling with dating after divorce?
Are you struggling with the thought of meeting new people? Do you feel like enough time has passed and you should be ready for dating after divorce, but you are not? Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with a counselor. You may need some help in working through the emotions from the divorce. Your counselor can meet with you in person or virtually. Give us a call today or complete our contact form.
We can’t wait to work with you.
“Coffee”, Courtesy of Priscilla Du Preez, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Pizza”, Courtesy of Yunus Tuğ, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Hikers”, Courtesy of Toomas Tartes, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Movies Outdoors”, Courtesy of Derek Sutton, Unsplash.com, CC0 License
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