A Road Map To Dating After Your Divorce
Navigating dating after a divorce is incredibly difficult. There is so much advice out there about knowing when you should be ready, books on how to cope with your marriage ending and people in your life constantly bombarding you with personal questions about when you’re going to start dating again. It’s exhausting and often times overwhelming.
It’s hard getting back in the game after your marriage. You became so comfortable with your partner that you didn’t have to think about what outfit to wear or if he was going to call or when you’d see him again. Dating feels like uncharted territory these days, especially with the online world. It can be nerve-wracking, intimidating, isolating and can shake your confidence down but you will get past this unknown and vulnerable part.
For starters, a big step to healing from your divorce is by working on yourself and rebuilding a strong sense of self. Before you even start dating again you have to rediscover who you are. Focus on what YOU actually like and your interests now that you’re no longer compromising and doing things with someone else in mind.
Knowing who you are and rediscovering old hobbies or creating new ones is a great start to finding balance again in your new life. Realize what aspects of your life are important to you now that you’re on your own that may not have been a priority before and don’t let go of those things the next time around. Having these things are important to fill up your own life so that you’re not dependent on your future partner to fulfill those needs. You will have something that’s yours, and we all need that.
You also have to work on yourself internally. You need introspect into the reasons your marriage didn’t work out, and it’s important to not only focus on your previous partner’s part in the marriage ending, but also on yours. Really look at things in an honest manner, the relationship ended so you have nothing to hide anymore. Recognize how communication was broken, as well as, boundaries. Notice what you liked and didn’t like. Look at it in ways you ignored, made excuses for or suppressed before. It’s important to see how you still need to grow into who you want to be and to discover what you want in future relationships to come.
Knowing what you are clearly looking for in a partner is a solid starting point before jumping back into dating. A helpful way to do this is to create a list of wants and needs. Wants are things that you can be flexible on but needs are what you are not willing to compromise on anymore. Knowing that our past relationships are lessons for our future ones keeps us from continuously feeling resentment, anger, and fear towards those we date in the future. Really put thought and time into your needs and wants lists, and no longer compromise on the needs with future relationships.
When you’re going through the divorce process your heart feels like it’s missing a piece and through the healing and coping process the gaping hole in your heart will slowly get smaller over time. When you’ve worked on filling that piece of your heart on your own with your growth, new knowledge, hobbies, and strength you’ve gained then you can look for a partner that may fit in line for what you want in the future.
When you feel whole enough on your own and decide it’s the right time for you to start dating again, be sure never to compare the new person you’re dating to your ex. We never like to be compared or judged by their previous partner’s mistakes and their previous relationship issues, so we need to ensure we don’t do the same.
This time around we should be able to recognize “yellow flags” or “red flags” that may alert us to possible patterns we may have in the people we’re attracted to. It’s important to recognize these habits and be aware of them to stop you from going down the same path again. It might be hard at first but it will save you a lot of heartache in the future.
Bringing up your divorce with a new partner can be difficult but don’t allow it to consume you. Tell someone when you feel comfortable and you feel like you’re moving in a positive direction.
It’s important to keep in mind that being divorced is not a label of shame in any way, but how you share your divorce story tells a lot about you, like where you are in the healing process.
Sometimes it’s easy to let out too much information too early and it can be overwhelming to a casual date or someone you just met.
It’s important to notice how you speak about your previous relationship, which goes hand-in-hand with comparing your new partner to your ex. Practice how you will explain it prior to going on dates and when the subject of previous relationships come up, it will come pretty naturally to you.
If you feel yourself hesitating to talk about it, notice and ask yourself why. Choose the best words to explain your marriage history and notice how you do speak about your previous relationship. Be wary of ex-bashing and telling your war stories of how your ex betrayed you or your blaming of just them in the reason for your marriage ending.
Being divorced is not a story of shame. It is your story and it has been a lesson to bring you to where you are now.
Navigating dating after divorce can be hard at first but you will figure it out with your own methods. It’s also important to keep in mind that healing is not a linear path. There will be highs and lows throughout the healing process, but you will learn how to fill your own heart.
If you’ve exhausted a bunch of different options and you’re still struggling, which is totally normal, seeking professional help is always an option to helping you get back on your feet and exploring this new world on your own.
There’s always a way and believe it or not, it will get better in time.