Dating after a divorce can make us all feel afraid. The pain of the divorce process makes most people fear new relationships. We’ve already spent so much of our emotional capital on just getting through the divorce. Now we have to make ourselves vulnerable again and open our hearts to new experiences.
So why would you want to get out there again? Because love, while it can cause pain, is also a fundamental source of joy. It can make you feel alive and happy. You just need to know how to approach finding it again without making some of the mistakes you may have made in the past.
Don’t date until you’re ready.
Well-meaning friends and family may be urging you to get out there again, but you have to be mentally and emotionally ready to explore new relationships. While you may be longing for connection to compensate for the emotional void left by the divorce, don’t make the mistake of rushing into a new relationship. If just the idea of going on a date makes you feel uneasy, that’s a signal you’re not ready. Give yourself the time you need to heal and prepare.
Don’t date without intention.
Before you approach dating again, think about your intention. Do you just want casual companionship? Are you looking for a long-term relationship? Your intention will be your guide on how you should approach dating. And if you just want to date to punish your ex, forget about it. Bad intent yields poor results.
Don’t neglect to learn from past mistakes.
Learning from past mistakes is one useful thing you can take from your divorce. Facing up to your own mistakes in past relationships is never easy, but it is essential so you don’t repeat those mistakes in your next relationship.
Don’t lower your standards.
Sometimes divorce will make us feel as if we are not worthy of a great relationship. Don’t fall into this trap! Determine what your “non-negotiables” are when it comes to a partner and don’t let your loneliness excuse someone else’s bad behavior.
Don’t hang on to the past.
We are all the sum of our past experiences, but hanging on to a part of the past that brought you pain is self-defeating. While it may be tempting to reveal all the skeletons in your closet when you have a sympathetic ear, don’t unpack all your baggage at once. Be patient. Relationships -- at least meaningful ones -- need time and space to grow. Make an effort just to be in the moment with whoever you go out with and you’ll find you will both have a more relaxing (and better) time.
As daunting as it is, dating is the primary way to find a new relationship. There is a natural rhythm to relationships that cannot be rushed, so resist the urge to be consumed by the search. And remember that you are the architect of your own life. Make choices that fulfill your own promise and fill your heart with joy.