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12 Essential Dos And Don’ts Of Dating After Divorce

It is one of the bitter truths of life that things don’t always go as planned, and divorce is one big example. Two people enter matrimony with stars in their eyes and hopes for a happily ever after, but unfortunately, the spark fades, troubles keep cropping up till they decide that parting ways is the best option. After such an ordeal, it can take the heart a while to get back to normal, but it eventually does, and even a divorced person can start thinking about love again. However, as the adage goes: ‘once bitten, twice shy,’ so it’s essential for everyone to consider several dos and don’ts before thinking of dating after divorce. 

couple on date

Image source: Flickr

Going by pure logic, when a relationship isn’t working out and is causing you trouble, ending it should bring relief and peace. Unfortunately, the heart and soul rarely follow the ways of logic! Whatever the circumstances of the divorce, it is still the breakdown of a significant relationship, with a person that was meant to be a partner for life. It is normal to feel a sense of loss for something that wasn’t good and some kind of regret for how things could have worked out. A divorce turns a person’s life upside down, all the more so if there are kids involved. A divorced person may also look at his or her new found freedom as a sign of their loneliness rather than as an opportunity to find love. They may feel angry – at the ex, at the lawyers, at the world in general. If the divorce was messy and the marriage involved abuse of any kind, there are likely to be more complex emotions at play. All this can leave a divorced person feeling vulnerable and scared; it appears as though they’ve failed and can never find true love again.

Suggested read: 7 vital aspects to consider before dating a divorced man

However, the human spirit has tremendous power to heal and regain its strength, and there’ll come a time when the divorced person can see the light at the end of the tunnel and realize that like everyone else, they have the right to be happy and to be loved as well. Now, when exactly this happens cannot be determined in advance; it is completely dependent on each person’s individual personality and their situation. A couple that has already been in a long separation prior to the actual divorce will have less trouble moving on than one that has been in a messy, damaging divorce. Like we mentioned earlier, any kind of abuse can take a toll on a person and such people may take longer for the wounds to heal and to be ready to open their hearts again. Whatever the case may be, deciding when to start dating after divorce is a very personal decision that cannot be forced.

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Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

Once a divorced person has decided that they are now ready to start dating again, they’re likely to feel a little hesitant about how to go about it, considering the recent events in their past. This problem will be magnified for someone who’s just ended a long marriage of several years; they’ve been out of practice! While dating after divorce isn’t all that different from regular dating, it isn’t the same either. It is important to take into account the divorced person’s emotional needs as well as their expectations before setting foot into the dating scene again.

6 dos for dating after divorce

1. Love yourself

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Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

Whatever happened, whosoever’s fault it was – it’s OVER. And that is the most important thing to remember after a divorce. You probably regret many of the things you said and did and wished you’d done them differently, but going down that road is not going to help. The only way to move forward is to forgive yourself, be thankful for what you have right now, and love yourself for all the good things you are. What happened then needn’t affect your future chances of happiness, and you can stop that happening. Divorce can leave people feeling unlike their true selves, so take the time to heal and come back. You’ll find that loving yourself truly takes away much of the despair and pain that came along with the divorce.

2. Have a support system

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Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

Divorce is not something that you can deal with by yourself. A good support system of close friends and family is crucial for your emotional and physical well-being. A social network like this will also be able to draw you out of any misguided notions you have about dating, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve put yourself out there. However, be sure to surround yourself only with sincere and positive friends. Negative or toxic people can suck out any leftover happiness and can give you wrong advice, which can prove disastrous in a vulnerable state.

Suggested read: Things you MUST know before dating a single mom

3. Be clear about what you want

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Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

When you’re ready to enter the dating scene, be sure about what you want. Are you just looking for some casual companionship? Or are you ready for something more serious? Whatever it is, knowing this important fact beforehand can save a good deal of awkwardness and heartache later. It’s perfectly understandable if you’ve still got wounds to heal and don’t have the space for a serious relationship in your life. Just make sure that your needs are clear to the other party as well. And don’t be disappointed if your expectations aren’t in sync. Let go and move on.

4. Consider the kids’ feelings

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If you have kids, you have the additional burden of considering how the divorce and the sudden loss (even temporary) of a parent are affecting them. Unless your children are very young, they definitely need explanations for what is going on, but be prepared to face the fact that they may be angry with you too. This can make it harder for you to start dating again, so it’s best to gauge your kids’ reaction first to see if they’ll welcome this decision or if it’ll make matters worse at home.

5. Be honest

couple talking

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You’ve been through the breakdown of a relationship, and you want to do things right the next time around. That’s all very well, but don’t let the desire to appear perfect to a new person cause you to hide your true self or put on a show for their benefit. There’s only so long that you can put up the pretense and when the show ends, it’s not going to be fun for anyone. Just be honest and genuine, by being yourself. If anything, all you need to hide are any residual bitterness about the past or fear about the future.

6. Evaluate the past

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Yes, we’ve advised against dwelling on the past, but looking back in an objective manner can actually help. You’ll probably realize that you and your spouse just weren’t well suited and the signs were there from the start. You may be able to understand their point of view, which will help you forgive them. A clear headed evaluation like this can throw light on several matters and can help relieve the burden in your chest. It can also help you accept the finality of the divorce better and enable you to look forward with more confidence. Try approaching a certified therapist; a neutral view can really help.

Suggested read: The most important lessons I learnt during our marital separation

6 don’ts for dating after divorce

1. Indulge in bashing your ex


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Your ex is part of your yesterday now, don’t drag them into your today and tomorrow! It might feel tempting to bash your ex and list their various faults, but by doing so, you’re only digging yourself deeper into a hole of negativity and hate. You’ve already had more than your share of it, so try for some positivity now! Bashing your ex with your friends is unhealthy, not to mention awkward if you and your ex have common friends!

2. Be desperate

Untitled design (2)Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

Sure, you’re ready to have some fun with dating, but being overeager about the whole operation can backfire. Considering the trauma you’ve been through and a pressure from friends to ‘go out and get some action,’ you might overplay your hand which may give off a desperate air. And facing this kind of rejection when you’re in a vulnerable stage can be even more hurtful.

3. Bring them home right away

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We’ve talked about gauging your kids’ comfort level when thinking about dating after divorce. But even if you get a positive response from them, taking  a new person home to meet them is not a step to be undertaken in a hurry, and best avoided for nearly a year after your divorce. By then, you’ll be pretty sure about what direction your current relationship is going in and can then decide whether it’s okay to bring them home to your kids.

4. Compare with the ex

couple talking

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Since your ex was the last person you had a significant relationship with, it’s normal that you compare every new person you meet with them. Whether the comparison is favorable or not depends upon how much you’ve forgiven your ex! But in anyway, this sort of comparison can only hurt new relationships and if you find yourself doing so frequently, it shows that you really haven’t moved on. In such a case, it probably isn’t a good idea to date right now; so take out some time to heal completely.

5. Feel the pressure

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Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

If you’ve been married a long time, it’s very likely that you and your ex have a set of married couple friends, and you’re both possibly still in touch with them after the divorce. Being surrounded by married couples can make you feel like the odd one out with your newly single status. Don’t let the pressure get to you and make you do things you’re not ready for. If it bothers you that much, get a hold of your single friends and spend some time with them.

6. Restrict yourself to a type

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When you were dating earlier, you probably had a ‘type,’ and all your dates fit into that mold. Don’t reuse that mold now; years have passed, and you’ve changed, so that type might not be the right one anymore! Now that you’re single again, let this be an opportunity to test the waters and try out something new. Who knows, it might be exactly what you need!

Suggested read: Why your relationship after a failed marriage has a better chance to succeed

Like we’ve already said, dating after divorce involves a lot of emotional management, and it needs to be done by the person in question, with support from friends and family. Deciding to start dating after divorce is a big step, and one that requires some thought and consideration. You probably get a lot of advice regarding this, but the important thing to consider is how you feel. If you’re not ready, let it be; just enjoy your single status and relax. If you are, then by all means, go ahead – don’t let anyone stop you!

Featured image source: Shutterstock

Article Name
12 Dos And Don'ts Of Dating After Divorce
Dating after divorce is a big decision and not to be taken lightly. It's best to consider all the aspects of dating before actually setting out for it.
Fabida Abdulla

Fabida Abdulla

Fabida is an erstwhile Software Engineer and current Freelance Writer cum stay-at-home mom to her boisterous 6-year-old. In between all the writing, baking, nagging, reading, and cuddling, she manages to blog a bit about her crazy life at Shocks and Shoes. []