Are you considering dating after divorce? If so, you’re probably a bit nervous and trepidatious. That’s understandable, especially after a long-term marriage. If so, there are things you should consider before jumping back into the dating game.
Below are 11 Tips for Dating After Divorce
1. Don’t date immediately following divorce.
If you’ve been separated at least a year and living apart continuously, the time counts but the divorce itself is a raw and difficult process. The marriage is not over until the actual divorce is final. It’s important to adjust to your divorce before you start dating. The minimum separation period is one year, while a two-year period is even better. The same is true for a potential partner. If he or she isn’t actually divorced, the road ahead will be rocky.
2. If you have children, they come first.
Children have gone through change and upheaval during and after their parents’ divorce. Their well-being comes before the parents’ neediness. We need to be there for them assuring them, settling them, and giving them attention. If this is done first, everything else will go better down the road.
3. Dating with children—yours or his/hers—is a different ballgame.
There are new rules, restrictions, and things to think about. Dating with adolescents is a category unto itself.
4. Realize that your judgment is impaired for a while.
You are vulnerable, whether you believe it or not. If you are the one who has been divorced by your partner, you are even more vulnerable. As you allow yourself time and perhaps have some therapy, vulnerability will decrease.
5. Anyone can seem okay to you.
Realize that if you haven’t dated in a long time, you are out of practice. You may be totally without adult dating experience if you were married in your twenties. It’s difficult to assess another person’s appropriateness when you’re not used to evaluating someone in this way. Everyone tries to impress in the beginning. You have to look beyond superficiality, and that takes time.
6. Most of us are starving for attention and validation after the failure of a marriage and the long difficult divorce process.
That also makes us more vulnerable to falling into old relationship patterns and failing again. Take a year or two to heal and reevaluate what’s important to you. This investment helps foster discernment.
7. The only decision to make is, will you see this person one more time?
In other words, one step at a time. Women have a tendency to project the fantasy “is this my prince?” very early on. If we believe he is, we will rationalize incompatibility to make the fantasy fit. This is how we keep making the same mistakes over and over. We see what we want to see. We are not keyed into reality and the singularity of this particular person. Try not to do that.
8. Don’t rely on any relationship to heal you or satisfy you in all areas.
Most of this work is an inside job. The more you realize that you can be okay by yourself without a significant other, the better choice you will make down the road.
9. Take care of yourself!
Join a support group. Get some therapy to help with the transition. Find other single people of the same gender to see a movie, go to dinner, or travel with. Think about group travel if you are not comfortable traveling alone. Look at Meetup.com to find people with similar interests. Learn to have more fun in a non-dating environment. You don’t need a romantic partner to have fun and have great experiences, although it may seem that way early on. Another advantage of single exploration is the more you do on your own, the more attractive you become.
10. If you want to attract a partner with certain characteristics, you must also have those attractive characteristics.
Like attracts like. If you are a generous person, you are likely to attract a generous person. If you are selfish, the same principle applies. Self-assessment is critical at this time. Most of us have faults. Do we want to keep them or expand and upgrade? That decision is in our own hands. Only we can change ourselves.
11. If you’re going to date, you have to be strong enough to take rejection.
The dating experience is rigorous. Not everyone will be open to you. If you know you will be devastated when a relationship doesn’t work out, don’t date yet. Online dating is like shopping at TJ MAXX. You have to go through a lot of racks before you find something that’s right for you. Sometimes you find something great and sometimes you come up empty. Expect it.