Life after divorce can feel like an episode from The Twilight Zone, as surreal as it is distressing. At first, you may feel like you’re losing everything (including who you are) without any hope of recovery. After a time, the pieces slowly begin to fall back into place, reminding you of the potential for happiness and maybe even new love.
It may be painful to consider dating at first, but exploring new relationships can be extremely helpful once you’re ready. In this post, I’ll help you explore how to get started and how to make the process less stressful when you are.
Make Sure You’re Ready
People require different lengths of time to move on; only you can know if you’re truly ready to spend time with someone else. For one person, it may be just a couple of months. Others need years to restore their independence. There are no wrong answers.
Unfortunately, many divorcees enter new relationships much too early, either in an attempt to rebound or to spite an ex. Others might jump in to dating far too early because they’re lonely or don’t feel confident in their ability to self-sustain.
Readiness is an abstract term, but here’s a quick tip. Make sure you’re not hanging on to baggage that could sabotage your efforts. If you’re still thinking about your ex constantly, or you feel you must find someone in order to survive, it’s a sign you need more time. Pull back and focus on you for a while.
Update Your Rule Book
Online dating is immensely popular among divorcees. Sites like Match.com and eHarmony both attract (and retain) divorcees over 40 seeking serious relationships because they allow you to get your feet wet first.
While dating sites no longer carry a bad reputation, you do still need to use good self-care when you use them. Be aware that players and scammers do exist, even at the most reputable of sites, and don’t be afraid to check LinkedIn profiles or do a few web searches before agreeing to meet with a prospective date.
Once you decide to make the jump into that first date, meet in public. I can’t stress how important this is. Meeting at someone’s house or away from others is incredibly risky, and can expose you to significant dangers. Get to know the in public first, every time.
Keep the Kids Out of It
If you have kids, you might be tempted to introduce them to your new love interests. Know that most experts recommend against this move until much later in your new relationship. The uncertainty of new relationships can make children uncomfortable, especially if they grow to like the person and it doesn’t work out.
Take it Slow
Just because you go on a date with someone doesn’t mean you have to hit it off – and it doesn’t mean it needs to lead to anything more. To avoid unwanted expectations, start with coffee or drinks, or insist you go Dutch. Have an exit strategy ready, just in case things get awkward or boring.
Things going badly? Don’t be afraid to put your foot down and leave. You are in charge, here, and it is not insulting to part ways with someone who doesn’t respect you.
Getting back into the dating scene takes time, and often, it can be a bit awkward at first. Take heart in the fact that you aren’t alone. There are millions of newly single people out there in the same situation – so get out there and have fun!