You’ve signed on the dotted line, and your marriage is officially over. Divorce is emotional, and people need time to heal. Give yourself time and space before deciding to get back out into the dating pool.
Healing time varies depending on each person. Some date again after only two months, while others take years. Don’t rush it. You may feel you’re ready one day and the next decide you never want to date again. These feelings are natural, so experience the emotions as they come and decide to date again only when you feel you’re ready.
Open to New Prospects
Are you open to trying something new when it comes to experiences and people? For example, if you have been in a marital relationship for a long time, thinking of starting something new, like a romance or even a cooking class, can be scary because this means you’re moving on. At this point, you may not be quite ready to do that.
If you’re not ready to date, take yourself out of your comfort zone and ease your way back into a new life by trying new things. For example, sign up for an art or dance class or anything you’ve wanted to try but never had the guts to do before. Taking the step to move out of your comfort zone is one of the first indicators that you may be ready to connect with another person emotionally.
Are you still thinking about your ex regularly? Are you wondering what he’s doing and who he’s with? If you are, you are not over your ex. This type of obsessing is expected right after a divorce, especially if you were married for several years and had an amicable breakup.
Even if your marriage didn’t end on a good note, you still had some sort of a routine with your spouse. Pondering about what used to be doesn’t make room for anything (or anyone) new to come into your life. Your mind is too distracted to start a brand new healthy relationship.
Then, there are the times that someone dates or even marries for the sole purpose of getting over their ex, which is not healthy either. Jumping from one relationship to another can lead to disastrous results and will set you even back even further in the healing process.
Re-gain Your Individualism
You’ve been one half of a couple for so long that you may not even remember what it’s like to be an individual again. Remember that your identity has nothing to do with the other person. It’s all about who you are and what you enjoy. Being on your own allows you to explore your new world on your terms without considering anyone but yourself.
One way to properly heal from divorce wounds is to get to know your single self all over again. Go out with friends and live your life as a single person. When you feel comfortable enough, you’ll be ready to try dating again.
It’s Your Decision and Your’s Alone
Just as you wouldn’t allow your family and friends to push you into dating, you also shouldn’t let your children sway your decision regarding dating. Some single parents opt out of dating because they worry about its effect on their kids. If you are a single parent, don’t feel pressured to find a spouse for your children.
If you feel as though you want to date, do it. If you’re not ready, give it some time, but don’t do it thinking about what the kids want or what your family wants. That said, if you decide to date, there are ways to slowly introduced your partner to the family that will make everyone feel more comfortable. The following are things are worth considering:
- Wait until the relationship is significant enough to introduce to family
- Allow the kids to ask questions
- Meet at a family-friendly event to take the pressure off
- No surprises. Tell your kids about your date before they come over
- If it’s an option, get the kids’ dad involved
- Keep the first meeting brief and casual
Don’t Blame Yourself
If you are blaming yourself for your divorce, stop it right now! A divorce is never one-sided, even if infidelity is involved, and both parties play a part in the marriage’s demise. It’s common to find fault within yourself when it comes to a split, and it’s also common to look back to determine what went wrong. None of this matters after the divorce. You should only look back if you use it as a learning experience to move forward in future relationships.
If caught in the blame game regarding your divorce, how do you forgive yourself so you can move on? Culturally, women tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves to keep a marriage together.
Women also tend to feel more guilty about not keeping the household together when it is not their sole job to do so. When it falls apart, they blame themselves, thinking about what they could have done differently. They ask themselves questions like, “Why did I argue with him so much,” and “Did I nag too much or not show enough affection?”
Forgiveness is a gift we often give others but have trouble extending to ourselves. However, forgiveness is crucial to the healing process. Accepting our part in the marriage’s demise is okay because it helps avoid future mistakes.
But constantly blaming yourself for what happened in the past is not healthy. Take it easy on yourself. If you continuously have guilty thoughts, change those thoughts into ones of acceptance. See the following examples:
Guilty thought: I should have tried harder. I shouldn’t have just suggested couples counseling, and I should have insisted we go.
Healing thought: When I recognized we were having marital issues, I did what I could to fix it. However, I can’t make someone do something they are unwilling to do.
Guilty thought: I recognized too late that we were having issues. I should have paid more attention to the warning signs.
Healing thought: I may have been busy with work and the children, but once I recognized our issues, I immediately tried to fix them. I did all I was capable of at the time.
Okay, now that you see how it goes, it’s your turn. Grab a piece of paper and write down the things that make you feel guilty. You can be as general or specific as you like. Once you have your list, write down a healing thought that neutralizes the guilty one. Do this as often as necessary whenever you feel guilty. Eventually, you won’t need to write it down because this will become automatic, and you will start to neutralize your guilty thoughts immediately.
How to Begin the Healing Process
We’ve established that guilt is common. But while some guilt is okay, it is never healthy long term because it can:
- Interfer with relationships with family and friends
- Destroy self-confidence
- Lessen satisfaction with life
- Cause depression
You’re not alone. There are plenty of groups that can help. If you prefer a more intimate setting, one-on-one counseling is always an option. Other remedies to help heal may include:
- Never ignore how you feel. Explore your feelings so you can release them
- Ask for support from family and friends
- Understand that change isn’t always easy
- Remember, this feeling is only temporary
- Seek counseling through your church or any religious organization
So, do you feel ready to get out there and date again? Still don’t know? Try this quick checklist to find out.
- Do you feel any guilt regarding the divorce?
- Do you get depressed when you think about dating again?
- Are you dating to appease others?
- Do you still complain about your ex to anyone who will listen?
- Do you feel guilty about dating again?
- Does getting a root canal sound better than going on a date?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you might not be ready to take the dating leap yet, and that’s fine. No one, not even yourself, should rush you to get back out there. Instead, take all the healing time you need so you will be ready to mingle with a positive, fresh outlook.
Life after Divorce: 11 Dating Tips
On the other hand, if you answered “no” to these questions, you might be ready for a night out on the town with Mr. Right Now. If you are, here are 11 tried and true dating tips for life after divorce to consider.
- Try something new: If you and your ex were loyal to dinner and movie dates, do something different, like an afternoon cheese and wine lunch date at the park.
How to Make the Transition Between Divorced to Dating Easier
A divorce is never a pleasant thing to go through, but when it happens, it can cause feelings of inadequacy, resentment, and guilt. However, you can make the transition easier on you mentally, and here are a few tips to follow.
Make Sure You’re Dating for the Right Reasons
If you’re considering getting back out there because you want the lonely feelings to disappear, think again. Being angry and hurt are also reasons you should take a step back from dating. However, if you have taken the time to heal properly (only you know how long that will take) and want to date for more positive reasons, such as looking forward to meeting someone new, you’re ready.
Before Downloading Dating Apps, Wait Until the Divorce Papers Are Final
Divorce is somewhat like death, but instead of a person, it’s the death of a relationship that once was. Give yourself a mourning period and in that time, be self-reflective to help you learn what you can do better in future relationships.
Be truthful with yourself to help you better deal with your feelings. When it comes to online profiles, tell the truth because, eventually, it will come out, and you don’t want to waste your time or be embarrassed. Being honest will also help you find someone who shares the same values and will appreciate you for who you are.
Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself
While you may feel you are completely over your ex, all it takes is a familiar movie or song to bubble up those feelings again. Don’t be hard on yourself when this happens, and it will. Instead, allow yourself to feel all those emotions so you can move on.
Figure out what characteristics you’re looking for, and be as specific as possible. Doing so will help you save time when finding a suitable partner. That said, don’t be too stringent. In the past, something you may have considered a relationship dealbreaker may not apply today. So know what you want, but keep an open mind to other possibilities.
Divorce is difficult; at times, it may feel like you will never get past it. But you will. Allow yourself to run through all the emotions, and don’t feel guilty when you have a bad day.
If you take the necessary steps to move forward, not only will you get past it, you will flourish and become a better, happier you.