It is tough to figure out when to start dating after a break-up or divorce. Most of your friends probably have their opinions, and will be very quick to share them. It can be hard to wade through the “Just get back out there” kinds of advice. As appealing as that might sound at times, you and I both know that it is really not that simple. And as a professional, I see a lot of people who are coming to me because they took the wrong steps after their breakup.
So to avoid any unnecessary difficulties or hiccups down the road, here are a few thoughts to consider when trying to figure out if it is time for you to start dating again:
Time is important
Some people swear by different equations for how much time you should spend single after a relationship. Most relationships will require an amount of you sacrificing time focusing on yourself for time focusing on your relationship. This is not a bad thing, it is just the way things are. Maybe you gave up time that you would have spent on that one hobby. Actually spend some time and energy doing what you want and focus on what you want out of your life. You might find people being more attracted to you when they can see your passions, desires, and interests.
Will This Just Be a Rebound?
Everyone is familiar with the word “rebound” in the context of dating, but I do not think that many people spend the time to ask themselves if they are rebounding. Think about the word itself. A rebound I basketball is when someone else misses a shot, and you catch the ball after it bounces off the rim. Whether you think of yourself as the ball or the person catching the ball, this metaphor is clearly describing someone just reacting to a situation.
Maybe you have that “I’ll show them” chip on your shoulder. So you date someone nothing like your Ex. Or maybe you feel stuck on them, so you date someone just like them. The key to noticing if you are rebounding is your focus. Are you attracted to this person because they soothe a hurt or give you something emotionally? Or are you attracted to them because of who they are and their characteristics?
This is a Grieving Process
Losing a relationship requires that you do some mourning if you are going to come out healthy on the other side. You are experiencing a loss the same way that someone experiences a loss when someone they love passes away. Research says that divorce hits our brains the same way that it experiences a traumatic event.
You have to ask yourself what part of the grieving process you are in. There might always be a sense of hurt when you look back on this past relationship. But how much of your day is occupied by this hurt? How much of your energy is focused on the pain? If you invite someone into a relationship with you, will you be pulling them into a grieving process that does not belong to them? You have to be able to bring yourself to a new relationship instead of dragging a new relationship into a place of hurt.
If you are going through a break-up or if your current relationship is suffering from the past, give us a call. The Marriage & Family Clinic is here to help through this difficult time.
About the Author
Ryan Hicks is a licensed therapist and marriage counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, Colorado. He specializes in working with couples in high conflict and working with couples in the LGBTQ community. When he’s not working with couples, you’ll find him rock climbing or taking in the great outdoors of Colorado.