Being fresh out of a marriage or long-term relationship is SO hard. You feel incredibly raw and vulnerable. Sometimes you feel that sadness, fear, and loneliness may swallow you up whole. Understandably, you are seeking outside interests to help get your mind off of these painful feelings. What can you do?
One of the ways many women choose to fill their time is to jump happily (or reluctantly) into the dating pool. Friends and family might be encouraging it. You may get offers to help you write your profile for Match.com, Zoosk, or one of the many other sites. It might start to sound like something you could try. It's fun, even addicting to peruse the profiles. It would be nice to feel attractive again, enjoy a nice dinner out and companionship, right?
How do you know if you're ready? If you put your toe into the dating pool too quickly, or without knowing just what to expect, trust me, you will feel it. Here are five signs you might not be ready to date again:
When you're the new girl on the dating site, you will get a plethora of emails from interested suitors. It can feel very flattering at first. All this attention and excitement leads to many phone calls and first meets. It can be exhausting, confusing, and overwhelming.
Some folks in the dating pool move quickly, especially in the online dating pool. If he wants to make it exclusive and begins to push the "relationship" card, and your fight-or-flight response kicks in, you aren't ready.
He's attractive, successful, attentive, and is interested in you. He's everything you've decided you want on paper. You're still in the process of healing from your divorce. Your brain tells you "Go," and your gut is saying, "Whoa." You try to push through the discomfort, hoping it will pass. But it doesn't. As they say, timing is everything.
You meet someone you like, and they don't share the same sentiment or interest in you. You may feel this as rejection, and you might be too raw to handle it right now.
Healing from a divorce is full of roller-coaster emotions. Each day is different as you go through the grieving process. You can only affect these emotions so much before they spill out into other areas of your life. Dating can be especially challenging because there are triggers galore to your recent break-up.
Try to be honest on your dating profile and when you meet suitors. Tell them if you're not ready for something serious.
If dating becomes overwhelming, take time off. Hide your profile for awhile. Honor where you are in the healing process.
Choose a healthy distraction. Schedule more quality time with friends and family who support and love you.
Join a support group. Here's an avenue where you can share your feelings in a healing community.
Join groups on Meetup.com and have fun with an activity you're interested in.
YES, TIMING IS EVERYTHING...
It's challenging to be patient with the healing process. If only there were a fast-forward button. You will get there, I promise. It comes as a surprise when you finally understand that you feel so much better when choosing healthy distractions, rather than to put yourself in a situation you're not ready for.
Brave Hearts. Honor Your Courage. Honor Your Knowing.
Jamie Daniel, MS, LMFT went into the field of clinical counseling with a heart to help others going through the journey of divorce recovery.