The idea of dating after divorce can seem very daunting. It may be years since you have been on a date and you could be wondering where to start. Depending on how long you have been single you may be feeling the pressure from family and friends to “get back out there”. However, there are some important things to consider upon re-entering the dating world, especially if your goal is to meet a new life partner.
Make sure you are ready
It is very important to be honest with yourself when it comes to deciding whether you are ready to start dating. Are you ready to take the lessons you learned from your past relationship and apply them to a new one? Or are the memories still too painful and fresh? The amount of time it takes to heal from a divorce varies for everyone and it is important to make sure you are ready before you “test the waters” and start dating. If you are still feeling emotionally vulnerable from your divorce it may be difficult to make good choices in a new relationship.
Know your values
As part of the healing process, getting to know yourself again is key. What are your values, interests, goals and dreams? If you have a concrete idea of what you want in life, it is easier to identify the non-negotiables when it comes to a partner. A relationship can still thrive if the some of your interests and hobbies are different, but it is hard to create a lasting partnership with someone who doesn’t share your core values. Identify the “must haves” from the “nice to haves” even going as far as to writing them down. It is ok to be picky when considering a new relationship. If you are, it is more likely that you will meet someone with whom you can build a happy, fulfilling future.
Set boundaries when it comes to intimacy
Make sure you know your boundaries when it comes to sex and intimacy. Once you communicate them to your potential partner they should be willing to respect them. If not, let the relationship go.
Trust your gut
Pay attention to any “red flags” that may pop up in your new relationship. Notice how they talk about their ex. Do they still have emotional baggage from their divorce? Are they still grieving a spouse who has passed away? Pay attention to how they treat people such as waiters/waitresses, cashiers and store clerks. Are they respectful of others? You will also want to be wary if they are saying they are in love or are pushing their feelings on you too quickly. Overall, if they say or do something that makes you uncomfortable, trust yourself and end the relationship before you get too involved.
Take time before introducing a new partner to children
No matter how old your children are, introducing a new partner to them can be difficult. If your children are small it may be confusing that mommy is suddenly bringing a strange man into their home. Even adult children may find it difficult to see their parent with someone new. Be sensitive to your children’s feelings and wait until you are sure you are serious about who you are dating before you bring them to Sunday dinner.
In the end, remember that the most important relationship you have post divorce is with yourself. It can be a time of great personal growth and learning. Rushing into a relationship as a way to avoid difficult feelings or “move on” will not help you in the long run. Talking with a life coach who is well versed in helping people through divorce is a great way to ensure you are ready to date and you stay true to yourself when searching for a new life partner.