Wondering about dating after divorce?
What is dating after divorce for women really like?
And… are you ready for it?
Other people will have a lot of advice. (When you’re divorced, there’s always plenty of advice on how to meet someone.)
“Come on, get back into dating right now,” your friends might say. Some popular psychology books, however, will tell you that have to wait “at least two years.”
Like all other advice, it is based on the life experience and belief systems of the advice-giver. But, your experience might be different. Rigid timetables and over-impulsive decisions both don’t work very well.
How do you know when you are ready for dating after divorce? Here are three things to consider:
1. How do you feel about your previous relationships/your ex?
Hint: If your previous relationship still occupies a lot of space in your head, if you find yourself thinking of your ex (in good ways and bad) several times a day, it might be too soon to think about a new relationship.
Be sure you have processed your feelings about the loss of your marriage before dating again. Trusted friends who listen to you, support you, and don't judge you can help you process the loss. Seeing a qualified therapist to help you work through your feelings and what you want next for your life, can provide sound and objective assistance as you navigate this new time in your life.
Getting divorced is a grieving process, even if you were the one who wanted to end the marriage. You grieve the loss of the hope you had for your relationship, the loss of your partner, the loss of the marriage, and the end of an important phase of your life.
The grieving process takes as long as it takes, and it is different for each person. You can’t hurry it up. There are no shortcuts. You also don’t need to trap yourself in someone else’s somewhat artificial time frame for grief. Some women start their grieving process before separating from their spouse, others before the divorce is finalized. Some stay in a state of shock for a long time and only begin to grieve much later.
Be kind to yourself and pay attention to your real feelings. Don’t feel pressured to fulfill the expectations of others. You get to make your own decisions. Trust and believe in yourself and what is right for you.
2. How do you feel about yourself?
So, you are single now.
What’s that like? Maybe it's been a long time since you have had a chance to focus on your relationship with yourself.
Who are you now? What is your identity? Is there any fall-out from your breakup in terms of self-image and self-worth? Do you need to heal and become confident again?
This can be a good time to reassess who you are right now, what you like about yourself, what you might like to improve and strengthen in yourself, and who you want to become in the future.
Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship in your life. Being single, and being happy being single, is a strong foundation from which you can live your life to the fullest. When you know yourself well, you know what you want from life, including what you want from a possible new relationship when you are ready.
3. How do you feel about change?
Are you looking forward to falling in love again?
Are you looking forward to sharing your life with someone different?
Are you ready to share emotional and physical intimacy at some point, and begin a new partnership?
First, test your readiness for change in the following smaller, more personal ways:
Are you forming new friendships?
Are you exploring new hobbies? Are you exploring interests that may have been side-lined before?
Do you sometimes look at a man and feel a little bit of attraction?
Are you ready for the actual dating process?
There are many options for dating after divorce for women.
Online dating is very popular now, but if you were married for a long time, meeting someone new via a dating site may be uncomfortable for you. Meeting someone new “the old-fashioned way” through common friends and activities can be great fun, but maybe you need to create new social networks first.
Finally, are you ready for setbacks?
Dating after divorce for women can be exciting and enjoyable, but it can also be challenging. Dating means people are looking for that “good match” and testing each other out. It would be nice if the ideal new partner suddenly appeared when you are ready but, in reality, you will do what everyone else does – do it all step-by-step and by trial-and-error.
If you feel too fragile, if a few small rejections make you question your self-worth, then maybe you are not ready to date. That's fine. Give yourself as much time as you need to feel stronger and confident.
Dating after divorce can be complicated.
But really, there is no obligation to date if you don’t want to.
You can stay single for as long as you like.
You can dip in and out of the dating scene.
You can try different ways of dating and explore what you really want from a relationship.
Remember this: It's YOUR life. The most important thing to remember after divorce is to be kind to yourself. Have compassion for yourself. When you are ready to jump back into the dating game, you will be in a position to know what you want and you will have the confidence to make decisions that are right for you.