Divorce isn’t a single-forever sentence. Still, it can be intimidating to re-enter the world of dating. Need a little encouragement before you take that plunge? Read on.
Dating After Divorce: Make Sure You’re Ready
It sounds like trite advice, but it’s worth following: Don’t date until you’re ready to date. You want to set yourself up for success. If you’re serious about finding love again, make sure you understand where you are in the healing process. Do you understand what went wrong in your last relationship? Are you aware of your role in the marriage’s end? Can you identify what a healthy relationship needs to look like for you? Give yourself the freedom of a little time and make sure your past is firmly in the past, along with the infamous “bitterness baggage,” before giving love a second chance.
Dating After Divorce: Have a Support System
Don’t date alone. No, you don’t have to make every date a group date; just make sure you have good friends in your corner. Friends make the best cheerleaders. Let the people nearest and dearest to you encourage and support you as you dive back into the dating game. You’ll need their shoulders to cry on, and their wisdom and listening ears to help you navigate this exciting new chapter.
Dating After Divorce: Love Yourself
Love yourself. Sometimes it’s easier said than done. Take a new class, get a new haircut, and eat healthier than ever. With the life changes you’ve gone through, make sure you’re taking the time to focus on you. Learn to thrive in your new situation. Dress in a way that makes you feel good about what you see in the mirror. Switch up your daily routine so you’re not stuck in past patterns and ruts by default, and choose to surround yourself with the people and things that inspire you.
Dating After Divorce: Stay Positive — and Be Up for the Adventure
It doesn’t matter how old you are or what your relationship history is, first dates are nerve-wracking. Give yourself a pre-date pep talk, reminding yourself of the great qualities you have to offer. Stay positive, embrace the adventure, expect a few disappointments, and see your life as an unfolding story, one that will be worth telling.
Dating After Divorce: Be Patient
Dating takes time. It might feel awkward at first. You might hear yourself saying the wrong things, or holding back in fear. That’s okay. Be patient, both with your dates and with yourself. Keep an open mind, take a few deeps breaths, and go easy on yourself. If you realize, mid-date, that you’re not ready to date, you can give yourself more time before pursuing anything further. If your date doesn’t call back, don’t take it personally. An 18-year-old doesn’t expect every date to lead to a long-term relationship, nor should you.
Dating After Divorce: Be Honest
Divorce is rarely a deal-breaker in the dating world. It’s a sad but very real fact that about half of marriages end, so prospective partners are often prepared to date people who’ve been married before. While you probably shouldn’t spill intimate details of your marriage’s demise on a first date, be honest and open (if/when appropriate) about the fact that you’re divorced. Don’t judge yourself on your date’s behalf; you’ll likely be surprised at the empathy and grace extended in response to your honesty. Everyone’s experienced heartache; it’s okay to be a little vulnerable about what yours looks like.
Dating After Divorce: Talk to Your Kids
If you have children at home, dating after divorce can be a difficult thing to juggle. Remember that you’re now their model for what dating looks like, so move forward carefully and intentionally once you do start dating. Talk to your kids about how they’re feeling, let them know that you’re going on dates, and be very selective and careful about when your young’uns get to meet your new significant other. It’s usually best to keep dates out of sight until there’s a bit of commitment in order to keep kids from feeling anxious or overwhelmed by frequent introductions. Make sure you carve out intentional time with your children; physically and verbally demonstrate that they will always be your priority and that your new dating life will not threaten the way you feel about them.