Regardless of whether you were married for 5 months or 50 years, getting a divorce is always painful. Feeling the the loss of what could have been and a life together never feels good. Because divorce is hard, the end of your partnership should be honored with as much time as you need to heal. But after some time and once the worst is over you start to wonder “when should I start dating again”.
Everyone has a different opinion (a.k.a. unsolicited advice) to when you should start dating again. Your best friend might persuade you to “get back out there” as soon as possible, while your parents will probably tell you to wait a few years. With all the contradictory advice you get it’s hard to know when’s the right time to start dating again. Well, I’m sorry to say there is no magical number to tell you when it’s the right time. It all depends on how you’re doing after the divorce.
It Is Too Soon To Move On If:
- You talk about your ex – good or bad: When you are truly over the relationship you won’t feel the need to talk about your ex anymore. You might think that if all you have to say is bad then you are ready to move on. But even if you don’t have love (or other positive feelings) for your ex and you’re constantly talking about him/her then you still have some healing to do before you’re ready to get back in the dating scene.
- Your life is a mess: I don’t mean the everyday life running around, but the mess that comes with a broken home. You and your former spouse are not agreeing on parenting, your children are acting up due to the divorce, your finances are disorganized by the divided income. If you still haven’t figure it out life without a spouse it is not time to add another person in the mix.
- Your self-esteem is low and your defenses are high: It is common for your self-esteem to take a nose dive during a break-up. There are more unpleasant questions about the past, present and future than you want to answer. It is also natural that you will build up defenses against getting hurt again. What that looks like is going on a date feeling insecure about what you should be saying or doing and/or blocking the other person’s attempt to get to know you. If you foresee this happening or actually lived it then take time to rediscover who you are without being someone’s partner. Refocus on taking care of yourself in any way that suits your needs. With confidence of who you are and what you want you won’t need to withhold yourself from emotional involvement.
How you Know That You are Ready to Move on After Divorce
- You found a routine: Suddenly, you start finding that life as a single person (or parent) is becoming a normal thing. You go to work, exercise when you can and hang out with people outside the house. And what’s most important is that none of this feels weird to do alone as it did in the beginning. Congratulations, you are getting detached from the marriage! And you’re finding that being single isn’t as bad as you thought. This is a good time to open your eyes and mind to new possibilities.
- Thinking of a new relationship excites you: Many times you will feel pressured by family and friends to start dating again, after all “you’re not getting any younger”. That said, you should only start dating when the thought brings some kind of happiness to your heart. Whether it is because you found someone that excites you or you just want to meet new people, do it for you.
- Your ex is not on your mind (or mouth): This should be rule number one. Don’t go on a date if all you can think and talk about is your ex. You might still have some conflict with your former spouse, but that doesn’t affect your ability to focus on someone else. Being comfortable with the end of the marriage is the most important indicator that you are ready for dating again.
The only way you can tell for sure if you’re ready is to take yourself for a test drive. Sometimes the timing is wrong, but you don’t know until you try. If the timing’s not right, don’t push it. Make sure you respect your need to grieve the end of the marriage. And communicate the possible obstacles with the potential partner. You will probably get it wrong a few times before if feels right. Listen to your “guts” more than to anyone else. Only you can tell when the time has come to love again.
About the Author
Patricia Cochran is a marriage counselor with The Marriage and Family Clinic. She is passionate about helping couples and families to feel connected again. In her spare time, she is busy with her toddler and enjoying friends and family time.