So…you find yourself single after building a life with someone you thought you would be with ’til death. Now you ask yourself “should I start dating…wait, how the heck does one date these days”? What will people say if I start dating…is it too soon”?
Tips for Dating After Divorce
Before getting back in the saddle for dating make sure your divorce is final. There may be circumstances which make it okay before the divorce is final. For example, you may have an agreement to start dating, you may have been separated for years or your ex leaves the state/country and begins moving on with their own life with another.
I don’t believe we can determine the “right time” for jumping back into the dating game, but I do believe in preparation before opening the door into your newly found dating world. First, let’s do an emotional, physical and identity scan of you. Where are you at personally – do you feel your feet on the ground and ready to start building a new life? How are you feeling about yourself?
Make Sure You’re Ready Emotionally and Physically
The goal is to be ready for this new season of life. Emotionally, you may still grieve or miss your previous marriage – this is okay! However, if you’re still hoping and wishing to reconnect with your now ex-spouse, it’s probably not a good idea to start dating. In the case of having deep hurts and wounds from your past relationship, seek professional help to process these. The last thing you want to do is bring emotional baggage into your next relationship.
Physically, you should feel confident in your body and skin – work out, eat healthy, get a mani/pedi (yes, men can get these too), get a new outfit, or maybe there is something cosmetically you want done. Getting facials or a massage are other ways to feel better on the outside. Whatever you need to do, walk into dating with confidence.
Assess For Any Other Damage
Now that you’ve experienced a divorce, assess the damage done. Who are you now? How do you identify yourself – as a victim, or a survivor? Are you going to be overcome or are you going to overcome your experience? No matter what the circumstances are of your divorce, it sucks and will be one of the worst experiences you’ve faced. Moving forward find out what you want and expect out of a relationship. Explore what attracts you to another; how communication is easy vs. hard with some; be willing to be direct with your expectations (because you should know them right?); and ask the tough questions, don’t beat around the bush when it comes to beliefs, values, goals, dreams, sex, desires, and wants. Don’t settle the next time around.
Last, have some close friends to encourage you, push you, and support your new steps into dating. I remember the first guy who expressed interest in me. I was shocked at first, and all was good until I realized I had no clue what I was doing! When asked for my number, I stuttered and stammered and had it not been for my close friend being right there I would have never gotten the numbers out. When asked on my first date I questioned if now was the right time, my sister and friends pushed me to go. As much as I wanted a self-help book on the ins-and-outs of dating and what protocols to follow, it was my friends who gave me sound advice.
If and when someone questions the timeliness of your dating life my advice is if you’ve covered the above advice, then it’s no one’s business when you should or should not start dating. If you feel comfortable and confident about then you’re in a great place.
Tristan Beymer is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and marriage and family counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. She specializes in helping couples rebuild their relationship to be strong, healthy and passionate. She also works with individuals to overcome difficulties related to trauma and addictions.