Dating after a divorce can be exciting as you put yourself out there and meet new people. It can also be a stressful, nerve-wracking time as you feel vulnerable and maybe even lost. It is not uncommon to wonder if you’ll be able to find someone to love again. While this might be one of the most difficult periods after your divorce, it can also be one of the most rewarding with the right guidance.
Here is our step by step guide to getting yourself back out there:
“You can’t love someone before you love yourself.”
This old saying is true, and it especially applies to dating after a divorce. Before you can put yourself back out there and meet someone special, you need to learn to be comfortable and happy with yourself. It may sound cheesy, but a divorce is the perfect opportunity to get to know yourself as a person and figure out what you desire in companionship.
Begin enjoying hobbies and activities that you haven’t had time for previously. Get involved with some clubs or take some classes that have been on the backburner. This will give you good opportunity to have some alone time and find out some things about yourself that you may have not known. Don’t do these activities with the goal in mind of meeting someone. Do these activities because you want to try something new or because you have a genuine interest. If you meet someone, that’s great. But don’t let that be the sole purpose of trying new hobbies.
Think hard about the type of person you want in your life. Are they funny and outgoing or maybe a little more reserved, do they have the same hobbies as you? Different hobbies? In fact, it is common that you will find yourself enjoying other experiences that you may have never had the opportunity to in the past. While you’re thinking about what you want, form a picture in your mind of your ideal potential mate, and how it differs from what you’ve experienced from past relationships. Remember there is nothing wrong with having some different interests.
Once you have this picture in your head, ask yourself if you’re ready for new experiences in your romantic life. If your ideal mate is adventurous, focus on doing activities that you never thought you would have the courage to do. Whether it’s rock-climbing or square dancing, do something that makes you feel courageous.
Most of all, be a positive person. Don’t dwell on your ex and divorce. Don’t talk about them, even to family and friends. Negative thinking is easy to get caught up in, and you might find yourself complaining about the divorce to a date. Acknowledge that your ex was part of your life, but don’t be bitter or resentful. Think of your divorce as the start of the next chapter in your life.
Take your time when you’re putting yourself back out there. Enjoy the freedom of getting to choose who you spend your time with. If you were in a long term marriage, this is a perfect opportunity to really take the time to think about yourself and what you want.
Be patient, not just with dating, but with yourself. You will meet someone who reminds you of your ex, or hear a particular song that makes you think of them. It’s okay to feel pain, sadness, and anger. Let yourself feel these emotions. These emotions are normal and healthy. The hurt is part of the healing process. Don’t give yourself a set deadline to “get over” the ex. Don’t tell yourself that it’s been a year and you shouldn’t still feel the way you do. Everyone grieves differently, and some take longer than others to heal. If you need more time, don’t feel bad; give yourself the proper time to realize that you can survive – and even thrive – without your ex.
Another key of being patient is to not give up on the dating process. You’re going to meet a lot of people, most of whom may be totally wrong for you. You will need to go on a few dates until you find the right person and connect with each other. Remember to be patient with the process. If one thing isn’t working for you, whether online dating or going to the bar you frequent, try a new avenue. Step outside of your comfort zone to meet people and you might be rewarded with your next exciting relationship.
The last thing you want to do when you’re dating is to become serious for all the wrong reasons. You need to consider the other half of the relationship when you involve another person in your life. When you get serious with someone else, ask yourself why. Do you love them? Do you want to take the next step with them? Are you ready to be in a serious relationship?
Be honest with yourself and the new person in your life. Do you think of your ex? How often? Do you think of your ex when you’re with that special someone? You need to ask yourself if you’re with this person because you hope it will make your ex jealous, or if you’re truly passionate about the new relationship. You may hope that when your ex sees you with this new person that they will realize they missed out on something special, this may be a glaring sign that you’re not ready to date after divorce. If you’re only moving forward with the relationship because of how you think your ex will react, you’re in the relationship for the wrong reasons.
After a divorce, and especially once you start dating, it’s important to have a good support system. Your family and friends know you, and they can keep you honest about yourself, your ex, and potential partners. You’re going to need someone to lean on. They will also hold you accountable if you’re complaining about your ex again or making poor decisions with your dating life.
Let friends meet new partners and ask them to be honest. A good friend won’t be afraid to tell you that your new partner is just like your ex, or that the new love is totally wrong for you. They can also tell when you’re rebounding. They probably know you better than you know yourself–that’s a good thing. Use that to your advantage in your search for the right relationship. Remember, they have your best interest at heart.
There are a myriad of reasons why people get divorced and that can be difficult for everybody especially the children. Keep in mind that the divorce was hard and stressful for them too. It’s going to be weird for your kids to see mommy or daddy date other people. The biggest mistake people make in this area is underestimating what their children know. It is important to have a plan when discussing your re-entry into the dating world. You should avoid at all costs bringing people around to meet your children until things get more serious. At that point you should discuss when the time feels right for you and your new significant other to meet your children. Allow your child to be open and honest about their feelings, especially when it comes to the new boyfriend or girlfriend. Remember that children learn about healthy relationships from their parents, so be a good role model for them.
Even as you fall in love all over again, don’t forget about the important people in your life. Always take their opinions into consideration and maintain those relationships.
Don’t rush to get too invested in any one relationship after your divorce, especially the first one unless you are absolutely sure. Even if you feel like he or she is the one and you’re crazy about them, give your new relationship time. There’s exception to the rule, but keep this in mind during the relationship to prevent heartache later.
Your first relationship after the divorce tends to be about healing. This person may help you move on from the pain and heartbreak you experienced when your marriage ended. They will teach you things about yourself, and they will help you realize what you’re looking for in a partner. Enjoy this relationship, allow yourself to have fun and let go.
Having a new partner is exciting, and it’s easy to feel like you’re falling in love all over again. This person is new, and makes things feel fresh. This newness and excitement of being in love again can blind you to red flags. Don’t let your need to feel loved again cloud your judgment. Here are some red flags to look for:
Negativity. Everyone has a bad day, but constant complaining and negativity isn’t emotionally healthy and can bring you down.
You feel worse around the other person. The right one will make you feel good, and you will feel better when you’re around them. This happy glow will stick with you even when you’re not together.
Impatience. The wrong one won’t have the patience to deal with your issues and emotions. The right one will be understanding, and be okay with you taking the time you need. The right one will wait for you, especially when you’re going through a rough patch.
Lack of independence. Don’t be with someone who seems like they need to constantly have you around, talk to you, or know what you’re doing. You need a healthy, adult relationship where both partners are equal. The same goes for financial independence. Don’t date someone who expects you to help them financially.
Be patient and brave when you put yourself out there. Know what you want, and keep your expectations realistic. Most importantly, have fun, relax, and use this guide to help you. The right one is out there for you.
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