Dating after divorce
Getting back into the dating scene after a failed relationship is hard. Getting back into the dating field after divorce, is doubly so. There’s no question that starting to date while coping with the emotional fallout of divorce can be extremely stressful. Looking for love after 10 or 20 years of marriage is like learning a brand new skill. Dating today may not be like dating 10 years ago. Not only do you have to deal with the new dating technology, you also need to figure out how to re-create dating boundaries that will fit into your life today – a life that often includes children, work, family in a way that it didn’t when you were in the dating arena pre-marriage.Dating after divorce may not be quite the same as it was when you were younger. You have probably learned a great deal about relationships and while you may be older, you are most likely wiser as well. If it’s been a while since you were single, it may be overwhelming when thinking about where and how to meet potential dates in this Brave New World of social networking re-connections and Internet hook-ups. You have likely changed since you stopped dating to get married but so has the dating world. Now that you’re single again, there are some things that will help when trying to get back to dating after divorce:
- Allow yourself to grieve. Divorce is a loss. It signifies the end of one life and the beginning of another. Before you jump back into a new relationship, make sure you’re on your way to being healed.
- Make sure you’re comfortable being on your own. This may take some time, especially if you’ve been married awhile. It’s important to be comfortable being on your own or you’re going to come across as “too needy” or “too clingy.”
- Decide what your “dating intentions” are. Do you want someone to spend time with or a partner in life? Are you looking for short or long term? Having the answers to these questions will make it easier to take the next steps.
- Learn the new dating technology. Online dating is a great way to ease yourself back into the dating scene. It has not only become mainstream, it is now one of the best ways to widen your search rather than waiting till you find someone you connect with at the grocery store.
- When you connect with someone online, don’t spend too much time exchanging emails and chatting. It may cause a buildup of anticipation and the creation of a fantasy partner about who the person is like. You may as well find out if the chemistry is virtual or real.
- Safety first. Remember some of the safety rules, such as always meet a first date out, make sure your cell phone is fully charged and let a friend know where you are going and who you are meeting.
- When you meet someone and hit it off offline, take it slowly. It’s easy to transfer all the loving feelings you once had for your partner to someone else. That’s not healthy – it’s codependent.
- Be honest with yourself and your new partner. Everyone has baggage. Maybe you have kids. Maybe you share custody of your dog. Either way, every potential partner should be informed of where you’ve come from and where you’re going.
- Avoid negative thinking. Make sure your self-esteem is getting back to where it was before your marriage or divorce (especially in cases of emotional abuse or abandonment). Feeling good about yourself will allow you to attract people who will notice your best qualities, not those who will bring you down.
- Don’t date alone. While you don’t have to make every date a group date, having good friends around may make it easier to be yourself and have a good time. Friends make the best cheerleaders and it can be comforting to have your besties’ support as you ease back into the dating scene.
- Keep your social schedule as busy as you can handle – don’t isolate yourself – and make sure some of your plans involve going out to places where there are a lot of people.
- Make a list of qualities you look for in a partner and qualities you offer a partner and evaluate potential suitors using that list. It can help you choose healthy romantic relationships in the future.
Entering the dating world after a divorce can be a scary experience but if you trust yourself to make the right choices, chances are that you will thrive as you begin your new life dating after divorce.
Ali Goldfield, Psychotherapist