Divorce is an ordeal, emotionally, financially, and socially. As the process draws to a close, our minds turn to what comes next. Dating after divorce can be both exciting and a little intimidating. Will we find someone? Where do we even start?
The First Step is Healing
After a divorce, practice self-compassion. Give yourself as much time as you need to heal. No matter how necessary the divorce was, many people still need to grieve. It’s not uncommon to feel anger at your ex. You might also feel afraid that your next relationship will turn out like your last one.
Taking time to sort your feelings, experiences, and discoveries can help give you a better chance of getting into the right relationship for the right reasons. You don’t need to go it alone. Many people seek out a therapist who can help them tease out, understand, and make peace with what they’ve been through.
Rediscover your passions
After years of trying to save a marriage and going through the process of divorce, you finally have your time, space, and heart back. Reconnecting with your joys and interests can bring you back to your center. If you do it with others, it can also help rebuild your social life.
A robust social life centered around common interests helps to build your confidence and your sense of self. That confidence will make dealing with the ups and downs of dating feel less all-consuming.
Being in social settings that focus on your passions isn’t just a great way to meet friends. It is also a great way to meet a potential partner.
Decide what you want in your next relationship.
When you close your eyes and picture a new, happy relationship, what do you see? How do you deal with conflict? What interests do you have in common? How do you express love? What goals are you moving towards?
By taking the time to envision the relationship you want, and articulating to yourself what you’d like to avoid, you can reduce your likelihood of falling back into old patterns. Just “going with your gut” can lead you to seek out something that feels familiar, rather than what’s best for you.
Putting words to what we want — and what we don’t want — can help us to avoid getting into a relationship that looks exactly like the marriage we just spent time and money to end.
If you feel you have chemistry with someone, take the time to determine if they share your values and if their personality fits with your vision of that new and better relationship. Are they responsible? Are they kind? Are they patient? What are their relationship goals – and are those goals compatible with your own?
Date. A Lot.
Some real talk here: dating is a process, and finding the right person is going to take a lot of sorting, interviewing, soul-searching, and discovery. It’s going to take time, and you are going to have to date many people.
See a lot of people. Go on a lot of one-on-one, but strictly social outings with as many people as you can. Communicate your style and approach to everyone you are seeing. Don’t get exclusive until you’re certain you are ready to settle in.