Suddenly being divorced can be a huge shock to anyone, making the thought of starting a new relationship an intimidatingly daunting prospect. Depending on how long you were married, socializing may have changed since your pre-wedding days, creating many things to consider when dating after divorce. Below are 8 helpful tips to guide you back into the single zone as smoothly as possible.
1. Seek Support
Divorce is highly stressful, and those recently separated can use therapy to help process the guilt, anxiety, anger, loss and other strong emotions that may come with the end of a marriage.
Seeking guidance from someone professionally trained to navigate this labyrinth of intense feelings doesn’t mean you’re weak: it means you’re a strong, mature person trying to handle a traumatic situation in the healthiest manner possible.
Remember that everyone needs counseling or a shoulder to lean on sometimes, and anyone who thinks you need to “tough it out” isn’t being supportive.
2. Make Some Me Time
If you can take a mind-clearing vacation or spend some time alone to get back in touch with yourself, this is a great opportunity for healing.
Hobbies you love or activities that bring you pleasure can be cathartic and soothing ways to work out your feelings.
Properly grieving the loss of your marriage and finding closure may also grant you the ability to trust and open up to future partners.
3. Swim Slowly
Because everybody is emotionally vulnerable post-divorce, proceed very slowly when dipping a foot back into the dating pool. The water may shock your system if you dive in headfirst.
Be gentle with yourself, and don’t feel obligated to make promises or commitments you’re not psychologically prepared to keep.
The only thing you owe dating partners is honesty, so make it clear from the beginning where you stand and what you are looking for in a relationship.
4. There May Be Baggage
Especially if there are children involved, the newly-divorced dating experience will be a completely different beast than the one you knew pre-marriage.
Be aware that if you have children, anyone you date will potentially be a part of their lives, and that anyone you date may also have children to be considered as well.
Be careful not to judge potential partners for what they bring to the table—and if you have children, immediately dismiss anyone who doesn’t respect your relationship with them. Your marriage may have ended, but you’re a parent forever.
5. Find Your Friends
If you can find the time to bond and reconnect with your friends, this can be a great way to surround yourself with the support you need right now.
When you’re ready, your single pals can also be helpful guides to ease you back into the world of dating with insider knowledge of the local scene.
6. Try a New Type
Many of us have a “type” that we tend to be attracted to and date over and over again. Thanks to the recent divorce, you now know that your usual suspect may not be the wisest choice, so consider dating someone completely unlike your former partner.
Sometimes moving out of your comfort zone can push you to grow in different and unexpected ways, opening your eyes to something—or someone—you never realized you might find appealing. Give different a chance: you may be pleasantly surprised with the results.
7. Be True to You
There’s no point in faking it: the real you is going to come out eventually, so don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. You have nothing to prove to anyone, so don’t hide your personality or quirks.
The right person will like you for who you already are, so remain honest and relaxed to communicate in a healthy and authentic way.
8. Don’t Compare
Avoid comparing those you date post-divorce to your ex-spouse. Everyone deserves the right to be judged fairly, and using your previous relationship as a gauge for future connections is a huge mistake.
Also be careful to not project the hurt, insecurities or other negative aspects of your previous relationship onto an innocent person.
The most important thing you can do when dealing with a painful experience such as divorce is try to learn from the mistakes you’ve made, give yourself time to heal, and move forward when you’re ready.
Use the tips above to move gently back into the world of dating, and remember that the right person is out there. Even if it takes a while to find them, you’re on the path to better things, so stop and look around, take deep breaths, and try to enjoy the adventure.
Caleb Frankford is a professional blogger that shares legal advice on divorce and family law situations. He writes for Campo Blumenfeld LLP Attorneys At Law, a divorce and family law firm in Milwaukee.