When it comes to stressful events in life, divorce is one of the more stressful ones. This certainly makes sense. Ending a marriage can make you rethink everything you thought you knew about love. It may even cause people to question themselves. However, that shouldn’t keep you from trying to find happiness in a relationship. In fact, some of the experts say that getting divorced later in life can actually lead to healthier relationships in the future.
Going through a divorce likely was a traumatic event but don’t feel ashamed if you’ve been divorced. Going through this experience can help provide you with what you want in your next partner.
Are you starting to feel like you’re ready to meet people? Before you get back into the dating game, there are some tips that can help you get off on the right foot.
Chemistry Doesn’t Mean Forever
If you meet someone and feel attraction towards that person, great! However, just because you feel attraction, you don’t necessarily need to be with that person long-term. When you get back into dating after a monogamous relationship, especially one that ended badly, you may be craving a spark-filled relationship. However, don’t discount the benefits of a slow but steady growth in affection.
Singles often think that immediate chemistry is what they should be looking for. However, this often grows over time and may not always be present in the early dates. Think about how you became attracted to people in the past. Was it always instant or did you find that your affection changed over time? Sometimes couples begin as friends and then find out there’s something more. This may not always be the case and you certainly need some chemistry. However, don’t expect every relationship to be an extreme attraction immediately.
Get Yourself in an Emotionally Healthy Place
If you’ve been through a divorce, you may be eager to find someone else. Just because the papers are signed though doesn’t mean that you’ve moved on. Think about your past breakups. Were you necessarily ready to jump into another relationship right away? Probably not. A divorce is likely more difficult to recover from. Think about having a physical injury. If you’ve just sprained your ankle, is it really a good time to start running a marathon? No, you need to give yourself both time and space to heal.
The time frame for everyone to get back into dating is going to be different. If you’re constantly thinking and talking about your ex, then you may need some time to process your feelings before starting to date. You have to take the time to heal and let go of resentments before you can be open to a new relationship. Be patient with yourself and take the time that you need. Don’t feel pressured to date before you’re ready. If you feel like you’re not making any progress, talking to a therapist or counselor may help you feel better moving forward.
Take Dates Slowly
Now that you’re ready to start dating, it’s probably best to start dating cautiously. This doesn’t mean you should play games but consider getting to really know your dates before moving to more intimacy. Think about dating as truly getting to know someone. Stay in contact and be open but don’t feel rushed into a new relationship. This is especially important if you don’t know the person you’re dating well. Keeping things casual at first will not only make your dates more enjoyable, they’ll also allow you to explore what you do and don’t like in a partner.
Be Cautious with Perfection
You may be determined to find the perfect man or woman but you’re probably going to feel more vulnerable after a divorce. This leads people to seeking relationships where they have validation and affection. This is natural and even a good thing but can also set you up to be victimized. One of the red flags that your date doesn’t have good intentions is when they’re flawless.
This often seems counterintuitive but if they check every box on your list, give gifts constantly, are in contact constantly, and push for a quick commitment, you may be looking for someone who is looking to control you. This may sound a little dramatic and there’s certainly the chance that you’ve landed the perfect partner but there are many people out there who are willing to take advantage of their partner
How exactly do you prevent this from being a problem in your relationships? Your friends and family are often your best resource in this case. Review your dates and relationships with close friends. They may see warning signs that you’re blind to and let you know about any potential problems. Take their advice seriously from your good friends. Remember that love can be blind but the people who love you will often notice problems you don’t.
Be Honest About Your Past
This is an area that many people struggle with when they start dating again. How much do you share? It takes time in a relationship to build trust so don’t feel as though you have to share all of your private information right away. It’s usually best to be open about the basics in your life but not go into specifics. For example, when sharing your divorce with someone, you should share that you’ve been divorced but decline to provide details about it on a first date. Most people will see this as a healthy sign. While your partner will want to know the specifics over time, this is information that you can share down the road.
Other information that may be more relevant is something that you’ll have to decide when to share. For example, having children at home from your marriage is big deal to most people. Certainly, you would want to know if the person you were dating had children. Once again, mentioning that you have children is a good idea but don’t feel as though you have to delve into great detail on a first date.
Over time, you can and should feel more comfortable opening up with the person that you date. When your partner starts to share more private information about their life, you can also use this opportunity to be open about your own.
Be Cautious with Kids
When you have children from your marriage, dating is going to be more complicated. If your children are old enough to understand that you have a social life, then talk to them about how you’re going to
be going on dates. Going through a divorce is traumatic for children as well, even in the best of circumstances. Seeing their parent start to date again can be challenging for your kids. Try to be open but also emphasize that they have stability in their lives, even with these changes. If you and your children are going to a therapist, this may be a good opportunity to explore their thoughts and emotions about your dating life
You’ll also have to decide when or if you want your partner to meet your children. It’s usually not a good idea to introduce kids on a first date but you may want to start bringing your partner into your family events when you’re in an established relationship. This is a process that’s going to be different for every family. Make sure that your children feel comfortable meeting this person and make their meetings light-hearted events where your kids can opt out if they prefer. They may choose to do this at first, and accept their decision. Over time, they will hopefully feel more open to meeting a partner but allow them the space and autonomy to take their time going through the process.
Set Priorities and Disclose Boundaries
When you first start to date, you’ll often find that it’s almost like being a teenager. Going on dates and having fun can be an exhilarating experience. However, over time, you may find that your dates turn into relationships and then you’re going to have some harder work to do. Along with being honest about your past, it’s also important to decide what you want in a relationship and set appropriate boundaries. Make sure that you’re open both about your boundaries and the reasons behind them. This is your decision, and you get to make your own priorities. Your partner may not necessarily always understand them but having a healthy life moving forward is incredibly important. Don’t allow yourself to feel pressured into being someone that you’re not.
Finally, as you start dating again, focus on enjoying your life. Finding happiness after a divorce doesn’t simply mean finding a new partner or spouse. Many people use this time as a chance to rediscover their passion. While you may find that dating is an enjoyable part of life and find true love, take the time and space to appreciate and value yourself through this process. Being your best self can often lead to greater happiness in all areas of life