13 Important Tips for Dating After Divorce

Dating is always complicated, but the idea of dating after divorce may seem downright overwhelming or discouraging.

When is too soon to meet new people? What will you tell your children? How do you know if you’ve genuinely moved on from your ex? And what does the actual healing process entail?

Of course, every situation is different, and the answers to these questions aren’t necessarily straightforward or clear-cut. But there are some helpful tips that apply to most people. Here’s what you need to know.

Do Know the Mistakes You Made During Your Marriage

Even if you loathe your ex, and even if they were the reason the marriage deteriorated, all relationships represent dynamic systems. You inherently played a role in that dynamic.

That said, it’s important to know the part you played. For example, did you frequently enable problematic behavior rather than assert your needs? Did you avoid confrontation when it felt uncomfortable? Would you withdraw from your spouse when you felt angry instead of trying to come together to brainstorm healthier communication?

This identification isn’t about perpetuating self-blame or inducing guilt. Instead, having the insight can help you recognize what went really wrong. Ideally, it will prevent you from making the same mistake in the future.

Do Not Rush the Grieving Process

Whether it’s immediate or delayed, divorce inevitably comes with grief. There is a profound loss you must reconcile, and it’s not losing your spouse and the life you shared. It’s also the loss of a future you imagined with them. This can be especially challenging if your ex initiated the divorce and you didn’t want things to end.

Grief, as you likely know, comes in waves. You may find yourself crying and inconsolable during particularly rough moments. Other times, you might notice the entire day passed without you thinking of them. These fluctuations are normal. When it comes to divorce, people routinely cycle through intense emotions of anger, sadness, fear, and relief.

Honoring the grieving process entails several components, including:

  • accepting the broad spectrum of emotions you experience
  • trying to be compassionate to yourself during this time
  • talking about your feelings with trusted loved ones
  • allowing yourself to “be” without necessarily acting on certain impulses

Do Also Consider Strengthening Your Friendships

Many times, healing from divorce also means rediscovering your support system. When you no longer have your spouse, you may need to evaluate the people you do have.

Unfortunately, many people neglect their friendships in their adult years. This oversight is rarely intentional. We are all pressed for time, and we get busy with work, raising children, and managing a house.

But now is the time to lean on your support. If you drifted apart from someone, be assertive and let them know what’s going on in your life while also emphasizing how much you hope to reconnect. And instead of dating, you may also want to prioritize meeting new friends right now.

Do Not Hold Onto Your Anger

Most people experience varying degrees of anger after their divorce. You may, for example, feel angry at your ex for betraying the promise they made at the alter. Or you might feel angry that you must split custody of your children.

Anger is a normal emotion, and you don’t need to suppress it. However, it’s crucial to avoid ruminating on it.

To manage and control your anger, try to avoid:

  • badmouthing your ex to others (it keeps them at the forefront of your mind)
  • spending too much time thinking about them
  • acting out on your anger (by reaching out to them directly
  • self-medicating your emotions

Do Try to Wait to Date Until Things Are Finalized

Love doesn’t always fall on a perfect timeline. However, it’s still a good idea to wait until your divorce or separation is legally finalized.

Dating can, at times, complicate the legal process. It’s also an exhaustive time, and you may be more vulnerable to thinking irrationally and acting impulsively. You’re grappling with immense change, and it may be helpful to focus on slowing down rather than meeting someone new.

Do Spend Time Rediscovering Yourself

What did you sacrifice for your marriage? What dreams did you change or activities you overlooked because they didn’t align with you and your ex’s life?

Now is the time to reacquaint yourself with these old desires. You are a unique, wholehearted person, and it’s time to truly embrace that.

This process doesn’t need to be overly dramatic. It can be as simple as signing up for classes for a hobby that always interested you or taking a trip somewhere you’ve wanted to go.

Do Not Try to Compete With Your Ex

Even if it feels tempting, try to avoid keeping tabs on your ex right now. Instead, consider blocking, unfriending, and deleting them from social media. If you have mutual friends, ask them to avoid sharing updates with you.

Remember that it’s not about who moves on the quickest or fares the best from the divorce. Your journey is yours, and trying to keep up with what they’re doing will likely only make you feel worse.

Do Identify Your Values and Priorities

What do you want in a relationship moving forward? Moreover, what’s now a dealbreaker for you? If you haven’t identified any potential red flags, you probably aren’t ready to date yet.

Deciding what you want- and what you don’t want- is imperative before you start meeting new people. You don’t want to repeat problematic patterns.

Do Not Dismiss People Automatically

While you can (and should) have dealbreakers in dating, you shouldn’t be so strict that you eliminate any potential candidate.

Even if someone doesn’t seem like your usual type, it may be worth giving them a chance. Until you meet someone, you can’t truly know if there’s a genuine connection. And even if there isn’t? You’re out there getting experience, which will help you heal and feel more confident meeting people moving forward.

Do Be Mindful of Your Children

Dating isn’t necessarily off-limits if you have children. However, it can be undoubtedly tricky. Before you meet anyone new, you should consider how the divorce impacted them and what concerns they have moving forward.

Introducing a new partner too soon can be confusing for young children. In addition, older children and teenagers may feel irritated by the thought of you dating.

That said, staying mysterious or even lying outright won’t work forever either. In most cases, it may be worth considering introductions once you’ve exclusively committed to someone new for at least six months or so.

Remember that providing a safe and non-judgmental space for your children to air their concerns is vital. They’re also going through a significant transition right now. Aim to validate their emotions without assuming you know how they feel. And most importantly, do not badmouth your ex in front of them.

Do Pay Attention to Your Instincts

Dating may feel uncomfortable and strange at first, especially if you have been married for many years. It’s normal to feel rusty getting to know someone. Typically, that uncertainty wears off the more you practice.

But you should also be mindful of your intuition when meeting new people. Don’t ignore practicing basic safety. Before going on a date, let a loved one know where you’re going and who you’re going out with. And while you’re out, if someone feels “off” or you feel unsafe, don’t disregard that feeling.

Do Not Force Yourself Before You’re Ready

Even if other people encourage you to “get out there,” that doesn’t mean you have to listen. You have every right to take things slowly and honor whatever feels best in your healing process.

Some people feel ready a few months after things are finalized. Others want to wait several years. There are no wrong answers, but there might be wrong timing. Try to trust your feelings.

You might not be ready if you:

  • continuously dread going on dates
  • find yourself frequently canceling on dates at the last minute
  • still feel immense feelings for your ex
  • avoid really opening up when you meet new people

Do Consider Seeking Therapy Before You Begin Dating After Divorce

There are no universal right-or-wrong answers when it comes to dating after divorce. Your circumstances are uniquely your own. But if you feel unsure or worried about moving forward, therapy can help.

Together, we can explore the fears you have about dating. We will also process any residual feelings you still have about your ex-spouse or former marriage.

The future is bright, and you deserve to experience love and feel happy. Contact me today to get started.

4601 Spicewood Springs Road Building 3, Suite 200
Austin, TX 78759

(512) 988-3363

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