Going through a divorce is extremely challenging: there is the legal and financial process, but there’s also an emotional process – which can involve fear, anger, regret, guilt, or shame. The question “What is going to be like without my partner?” triggers strong emotions: relief for some and severe anxiety for others. Dealing with your emotional divorce requires time and patience; without the two, coping with this difficult life event becomes both difficult and exhausting.
Some people might take a year or less to recover from divorce and be ready to jump back into the dating pool, while for others, becoming ready to date again after divorce can take much longer. It truly depends on your resilience, your support systems, and how hard you work to process your emotions, cope with your anxieties, and let go of the past.
Dating immediately after or even during your divorce might not be the smartest thing to do. However, if you’re missing the companionship and other benefits of a committed relationship, consider answering the following crucial questions before taking the plunge.
1. Are you truly ready to date again after divorce?
Analyzing your feelings before starting dating is essential. If you are not emotionally stable and ready to connect with somebody, you will feel confused and unhappy. More than that, your partner might feel uncomfortable and muddled – so that’s not fair for them either. Before getting back in the game, you’ll want to feel truly ready. So, what are the signs that you might not be there yet?
- You think about contacting your ex whenever you have a problem
- You haven’t taken all your possessions back from them
- You still think about them daily
- You are not comfortable with running into them
- You stalk them on social media
- You are interested in their new love life
- You want to date only to stop thinking about them (won’t happen!)
If you see yourself in more than half of the above points, you haven’t gotten over your ex-partner yet. Thus, start working on yourself first, figure things out, and date when you are truly prepared for seeing another person. Dating for the sake of dating is wrong, and it won’t get you over your ex.
2. Are you afraid of commitment?
Many people going through a divorce develop certain fears – the fear of getting their hearts broken again, the fear of not getting dumped, or the fear of exploring the new. Right up there with fear of betrayal is the fear of committing to another person and exposing yourself to potential heartbreak.
Once you are married, the “exploration of the new” in your partner becomes a thing of the past. There’s nothing new popping up anymore. Thus, feeling anxious about committing once more is completely normal. Obvious signs you’re afraid of committing:
- You don’t like getting attached to people
- You think a new relationship will hold you back
- You hate monogamy
- You are not over your ex
- When you start developing serious feelings, you disappear
- You want sex more than a relationship
It’s normal to be scared of committing after a long marriage. However, if you do find yourself afraid to reconnect, don’t give out the wrong impressions to the people that you are seeing. Breaking their hearts is not fun either. Tell them what your intentions are. If they agree, go for that no-strings-attached relationship deal.
3. What’s your mindset?
Looking within and understanding your mindset is truly important, as it reveals your expectations for future relationships. Failing to understand yourself might be harmful to both you and your prospective partners. So, what’s your mindset?
- Are you an open person always ready to make friends, or do you prefer solitude and a good book?
- Do you work hard for what you have, or do you prefer working less, but smarter?
- Do you accept mistakes as a part of your life lessons, or do you always try to get perfect results?
- Do you like learning new things, or do you prefer routines?
If your answers lean more towards interconnectivity and learning about the world, it means you have a growth mindset. That will help you figure out if you are ready for a new partner or not. Just make sure you ask the right questions!
4. What are your intentions?
Knowing your intentions means knowing yourself – and knowing yourself means being satisfied and pleased with your own life. For this reason, understanding your intentions and getting a grasp of your “love goals” is important.
- Do you have high standards, or does it feel like “anything works” right now?
- Do you want to impress your prospective date, or express how you feel about life?
- Do you know what you want from a new partner? Have you figured out your relationship “must-haves” and “deal-breakers”?
- Are you fairly self-confident?
- Do you know who you are after your divorce?
- Are you independent?
- Are you looking for companionship?
- Are you looking for someone to make you stronger or someone to take care of you?
- Do you express your wishes accordingly?
If we don’t know what we want from our future partners, they won’t know either. Take a look inside, and understand your intentions.
5. How would you define “dating”?
What are the first words that pop into your head when you hear the word “dating?” If you answer “exhausting,” “awful,” or “painful,” try reframing your definition of dating. Take some pressure off by thinking about dating as an experience, an adventure, as something new and extraordinary that will teach you important life lessons. Not every date has to be about finding “the One” – finding someone who shares your interest in jazz/tennis/collecting stamps/Comic Con could provide companionship without romance (although that could come later!).
6. Do you have the necessary tools?
If you feel ready to date again after divorce, lying on your couch watching Netflix won’t open any new doors for you. Here are some suggestions for you to consider:
- Join your work colleagues to the bars or football games
- Attend Facebook events that seem like fun
- Don’t say “no” to unexpected social events
- Use public transportation instead of your car and try chatting with people you see regularly on your way to and from work
- Volunteer for an organization you believe in
- Be open to new conversations: at the dog park, in the elevator at work, or in the grocery store
- Start a new activity: from playing Bridge to Ballroom Dancing
- Try a dating app or website like PlentyOfFish.com or Tinder (read about the Do’s and Don’ts of Online Dating After Divorce first)
Remember: be at peace with yourself, and date yourself before dating others. Finding the right tools to start dating comes right after.
7. Do you have too many expectations?
How are you ever going to be happy if you are constantly judging your dates? Here are some of the signs that your expectations might be too high:
- Having a rigid set of ideas about your “ideal partner”: from looks to job to the car they drive
- Expecting your partner to drop their friends and spend all their free time with you
- Having prejudices that you aren’t willing to reconsider
- Expecting your partner to agree with everything you say
- Comparing your relationship with a friend’s
Christopher Jameson, world traveler, yoga teacher, and content writer for EssayWritingLand, shares his opinion. “Having too many expectations can be truly harmful in the long run. Living an expectation-free lifestyle liberates you from any concerns, and teaches you how important living life is. Free yourself from any expectations and you will be happy.”
8. Are you willing to go on multiple dates?
If you are willing to go on multiple dates and try out different activities, you might be ready to date again after divorce. It means you are down for exploring and getting to understand different mentalities – and that you don’t expect to meet your next spouse on your first date! Dating can be a cool game to play if you set the proper rules.
9. How (and when) will you tell your kids that you are dating?
It’s important to get to know a person really well before introducing him or her to your kids. Until both you and your new partner are sure you want to be in a committed relationship together, it’s better for your children to not be aware that you are dating someone new. If you do want to tell them the truth, be sincere and open about your intentions. Tell your kids that “you made a new friend” and you “want to see how things go.” Never compare your new partner with their father/mother, or make any connections between the two.
So – are you ready to date again after divorce?
Before starting to date again, make sure you know what you want from a new relationship, are self-confident and independent, have a growth mindset, and are constantly interested in developing new connections. Don’t date only to date – but when you find a partner who checks all your boxes, learn from the mistakes of your past marriage and create a happy future together.
Paula Hicks is an experienced journalist from Romania. Currently, lives in the United States and works as a freelance editor for the number of educational resources. Her big dream is to open a publishing house in Europe.