5 Things to Consider When Dating after Divorce
You’ve finalized your divorce, turned the page, and begun your next chapter. You’re starting to get the hang of life after divorce, and now, you’re thinking that you want to meet people and check out the dating scene. Dating after divorce is a big deal. Even if you’ve decided to play it casual, the mere fact that you’re putting yourself “out there” again is huge.
As you embark on this journey, it’s okay to feel nervous, excited, scared, or giddy. Self-awareness is key to doing this in a safe, healthy way that preserves your mental health and self-esteem. In this article, we’re going to delve a little deeper than just how to date after divorce. Here are five questions we think you should periodically ask yourself – and why we think you should ask them – as you venture into post-divorce dating.
Have You Finished Grieving?
Even if you’re the one who petitioned for divorce, you will go through an inevitable period of grief as your relationship with your ex-spouse ends. You haven’t just lost a long-term relationship; after all – you’ve lost a role, a life routine, and a set of expectations for your future. On top of that, you may have lost time with your children, in-laws you cared about, and a home you loved.
You’re certainly not the first person to grieve a loss, but that doesn’t diminish the validity of your feelings. In fact, grief is such a common human experience that social scientists have studied it and broken it into several universal stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Suggested reading: Recovering and Healing from Divorce Grief
If you dive headlong into the dating pool before you work through these grief stages, you run the risk of repeating old mistakes or jumping into something before you’re truly ready.
Have You Set Dating Boundaries?
Although your dating focus may just be having fun, boundaries are a serious issue. In your previous relationship, you may have set boundaries that were later broken. This is your chance to start fresh. So, what are your limits and boundaries? What are your deal-breakers? In no particular order, here are some aspects of yourself we think you should protect in the dating world:
- Your body
- Your time
- Your money
- Your heart
For example, maybe you don’t want to kiss on the first date. Maybe you don’t want a relationship based solely on sex. Or maybe you do want these things. Only you can decide what your boundaries should be. But whatever they are, think through them ahead of time rather than in the heat of the moment.
Communicate your boundaries with your dates. If the other person doesn’t know about or understand your boundaries – or hears you state them but chooses not to accept them – this raises a red flag. Someone could get hurt.
Do You Know Why Your Marriage Failed?
As explored in our blog titled Top Reasons People Get Divorced (and End Up Happier), five of the most common reasons for divorce are infidelity, problems with communication, money problems, boredom, and substance abuse. Maybe your marriage failed for one of these reasons and maybe not.
Regardless, when a marriage ends, both people can look back and connect some dots. What role did you play in your failed relationship with your former spouse? We’re not suggesting you should be feeling guilty or bad. We’re suggesting that you dissect your role in your previous relationship to better understand yourself and improve your chance of having healthy relationships in the future.
The work you do to better understand yourself and your role in your past relationship is important and deeply personal. Sometimes, close friends who know you well can help you gain clarity. Other times, it’s a good idea to speak with a therapist.
Read: Guide to Therapy During and after Divorce
Are You Dating Because You Want To or Because You Feel Like You Should?
Peer pressure isn’t just for kids. A single adult in today’s world can get major FOMO vibes just by scrolling through social media. Just remember, when you’re browsing photos of smiling couples and feeling like an outsider with no one by your side, that about half of all marriages end in divorce. So those people you see smiling in those photos? Half of them will be getting divorced one of these days.
All of this is to say, don’t let peer pressure – whether from external voices or your own inner voice – drive your behavior in your next relationship. If you want to connect with someone, whether casually or seriously, make sure it’s authentic to what you really want. Not hurried. Not forced. Just real.
Will You Be Okay Without Someone?
This last question relates to the one before it. Let’s say you end up single for a long, long time. Maybe forever. Are you prepared to handle this?
In her blog, What If I Never Meet the One, licensed marriage and family therapist Annie Wright acknowledges that it can be scary to confront the possibility that we may be single forever … or at least not meet “the one.”
“In the same way that consciously considering our own mortality can be profoundly uncomfortable yet can help us uncover really rich, meaningful information about how we want to best craft and shape our lives, so too can asking this very scary question: What if you never meet The One?” – Annie
Instead of dwelling on the possibility of not finding love as a tragedy, Annie encourages readers to find joy and success in whatever life brings. She urges readers to think about what they want out of life and whether they’re set up for success as a single person. For example, she asks:
- How do you want to spend your precious life energy if not on a serious relationship with a new mate?
- Where do you want to live (state, city, home) if another person’s desires are not part of the equation?
- Are you handling your money with the mindset that you will always be single? If not, can you find a way to start doing so?
Life can be rich and gorgeous without a partner. But if you happen to find someone along the way, that’s icing on the cake. At Hello Divorce, we’re committed to helping people find peace as they move through divorce and post-divorce life.
Post-divorce dating is a significant step in moving forward with your life. It’s essential to take the time to grieve, set clear boundaries, understand the reasons behind your past relationship’s failure, and date for the right reasons. Remember, being single can be fulfilling, and embracing your own happiness and growth can lead to a rewarding life whether or not you find another partner. By asking yourself these five questions and honestly exploring your answers, you can ensure a more satisfying and fulfilling dating experience after divorce.
- Is it normal to feel nervous about dating after divorce? Absolutely! It’s entirely normal to feel nervous, excited, or even scared about jumping back into the dating scene after a divorce. Allow yourself to feel these emotions and take things at your own pace.
- How long should I wait before dating after my divorce is finalized? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Take the time you need to heal and process your emotions before entering the dating world again. It’s essential to be emotionally ready and have closure on your previous relationship.
- Can I have a casual relationship after divorce, or should I only look for something serious? Whether you’re interested in a casual or serious relationship, the key is to be honest with yourself and potential partners about your intentions and boundaries.
- Should I seek therapy after my divorce? Therapy can be incredibly beneficial after a divorce, as it provides a safe space to process your emotions, gain insights into your past relationship, and develop healthier patterns for future relationships.
- Is it okay to be single forever? Absolutely. Being single can be a fulfilling and empowering choice. Remember that your happiness and well-being should not solely depend on finding a partner. Embrace your own journey and prioritize your personal growth and happiness.