The First Step When Dating Post-Divorce

By: Wendi Schuller
Last Update: November 18, 2016

It may be tempting after signing the divorce papers to jump back into the dating scene. Many people skip the first crucial step and then start dating the same type of person over again. What is this first step?  Do a self-assessment.

A self-assessment clarifies one’s needs, values, strengths and problem points. Be clear who you really are and what you are looking for in a relationship. Find yourself first before finding a new partner.  Someone who went straight from the parental home or dorm room into marriage may not have a good sense of self, merely being a reflection of their mate. Some people are like a fragment or piece of the puzzle and only feel complete when part of a couple. I call this serial dating when a person flits from relationship to relationship without a break for introspection. One thrice married woman was bemoaning being single again at age seventy-two, and wanted a new husband. Almost like any port in the storm would do.

When taking stock of yourself, analyse what went wrong in your relationship. It is imperative to take responsibility for your part in the demise of your marriage. Replace blame with forgiveness for your ex. Forgiveness severs the bond that keeps one tethered to a person or the past. Forgiveness is part of moving on after divorce before being in a relationship again. Forgive yourself and remember that hindsight is 20/20. We all make mistakes and these are life lessons.

After taking stock of your own qualities, determine the ones that you are seeking in someone else.  Assess if you are being too picky – wanting the same qualities that you did eons ago in college. Someone looking like she stepped out of Sports Illustrated is unrealistic. Wanting a buff guy driving an expensive sports car is superficial. No one is going to tick all of the boxes on your date wish list. What traits do you have that can attract the type of mate that you desire? An acquaintance of mine said that in her AA group, they are told to make a list of the values and characteristics that they would want in a mate - and to be that person.  Great advice.

Doing an impartial self-assessment is nearly impossible. Consider asking a few trusted friends to give your brutally honest feedback. You may have a behavior that is off-putting, such as spitting when you talk. Two people told me that I can have harsh words. Now that I am conscious of this, I am less opinionated or critical.

One woman I interviewed said that all of her partners had been sociopaths. This could be a wakeup call to break the pattern. If you seem to be attracting or going after the same type of person, then consider seeing a life or dating coach to analyse this situation to make a change. One dating coach worked with a woman who had low self-esteem. The coach helped this client realize that she was dating anyone who came along, because that is what she felt that she deserved. They worked together on this issue and to raise the bar on the qualities that she wanted in a fellow. She now is engaged to a wonderful man who appreciates her. In another case, a woman gravitated towards men who “needed fixing.” Concentrating on their problems was a way of avoiding what she required fixing with herself.

This is the time to awaken parts in yourself that have been suppressed or dormant during your marriage. One woman who enjoyed painting before marriage, got back into it after divorce. Her lovely paintings hang in our local gallery. A few others have pursued old interests post-divorce, which have led to career changes. When one is fulfilled and sure of themselves, this vibrancy is attractive to others.

 


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