You have accepted that you are getting divorced. Now you’re trying to manage life in a completely new reality. You are thinking about dating again after divorce, but a million questions and fears race through your mind.
- When is the right time to start dating again?
- How do I make sure I don’t repeat the same mistakes?
- Will my next relationship last?
- How do I act on a 1st date? How much do I tell them?
- Should I be casually dating after divorce?
- At what point should I tell my kids? How will I tell them?
- When is it okay to introduce my kids to someone new?
There are no simple, definitive answers to these questions. And you know yourself better than anyone else does.
We’re not going to kid you–we don’t have all the answers! What we do have is a list of questions that we are used to answering at Rockville Psychotherapy and Coaching.
Here are some of the answers we give to those anxiety-provoking questions that accompany dating after divorce:
Q: When is the Right Time to Start Dating After Divorce?
If you google this question (as you probably have), you will get all sorts of answers. Some say a year, some say the moment the divorce is finalized, some say 2 years…
A ton of opinions stated as facts!
The obvious answer is–there is no obvious answer!
It truly depends on you and where you are emotionally
Each person’s timeline for when to date again is different. The most important factors are how much you have grown, how much you have healed, and how much you have looked inward.
Q: How Do I Know I Won’t Make the Same Mistake?
Before dating again, it is crucial to look inward and ask yourself:
Where did my marriage go wrong? What role did I play in the marriage falling apart?
Answer: Identify Where Your Marriage Went Wrong
It takes two to tango–as the old, overplayed adage goes. If you are unable to look at the role you played in the failure of your last marriage, you are likely going to repeat the same mistakes again.
Relationship scholar Margeret Paul, Ph.D. said, “Unless you understand what you did that contributed to the failure of the relationship, you will repeat the same behavior in the next.”
Answer: Make Sure You’re Ready
As you prepare to start dating after divorce, it is imperative that you put your growth first. If you are jumping into a relationship to fix how you feel it is doomed to fail.
To judge if you are ready, ask yourself a few questions:
- Am I still blaming the entire failure on my ex?
- Am I able to see some things from my ex’s point of view?
- Can I talk honestly about how my marriage went wrong with my friends and family?
- Can I identify the underlying reasons that led to my marriage ending
These answers are pretty good indicators of whether or not you are prepared to date again.
Q: How Long Will My Next Relationship Last?
Answer: It Depends on Your Willingness to Grow
As we have stated, the key to healthy dating after divorce is personal growth. Now that you have seen the underlying reasons and your role in the divorce–have you grown from that? Have you made an effort to change?
If the answer is no to these questions, the answer to “how long will my next relationship last?” is–not long!
Unless you have made an effort to change, you are likely to repeat the same mistakes.
Answer: It Depends on How Honest You Are
It can be scary to go on a date and be honest with them about the divorce. But honesty plays a vital role in a relationship’s success. Any relationship built on dishonesty is destined to be shaky at best. At worst, it will fall apart quickly.
You don’t have to disclose any more than you want to, but it is important not to lie about where you’re at–even if it’s scary. The right person will be understanding.
Answer: It Depends On What You Want
The last piece of whether or not your next relationship will last is simple–do you want it to?
If you are looking to date casually rather than find a soulmate, that’s okay–as long as it’s the right thing for you!
Only you can answer this question truthfully.
Deceiving yourself will set you up for trouble. It can be easy to tell yourself that casual dating after divorce is healthy, when what you are really trying to do is fill the bed with a warm body. This may be desirable and you may be lonely, but it is important to be honest with yourself about how another fling will not fix you.
That is, of course, not always the case. Some people find great fun in casual dating. But being honest with yourself is the key to self-contentment and self-esteem.
Q: How Do I Even Start Getting Back Out There?
Answer: Dating Apps
Dating apps can be a good tool to help you dip your toes back into the dating pool again.
They can also help you realize what you do and don’t want in your next partner. By perusing dating profiles, you can see what is out there and redefine your dating standards.
Many apps also let you filter out people by age, political ideology, alcohol consumption, religion, pets, kids, and more. That way you will always match with people that check all of your boxes.
Some great dating apps that are geared toward relationships and finding the right partners are eHarmony and Hinge. Both claim to have very high success rates.
eHarmony is even backed by a 3-months free guarantee–if you aren’t satisfied with your first 3 months, the next 3 are on the house.
And Hinge’s tagline is “the dating app designed to be deleted.”
HOWEVER–it can be easy to sit on dating apps, like people’s pictures, and use validation to
Answer: Do Activities You Like to Do
Engage in activities you like to do and try to meet people there. Take an art class, join a bowling league, go rock climbing, go out dancing, go to a dog park, join a gym…
Find something you like to do or a hobby you like to engage in and talk to people there.
A big plus here is that you will end up with someone with a common interest.
And worst-case scenario, you get to do something you enjoy doing.
Answer: Talk to Friends
Friends are also a great resource for finding dates. Asking your good friends if they have anyone they can set you up with can be very fruitful.
It might feel awkward to ask, but if they are a good friend they will understand.
Q: How Do I Navigate Dating After Divorce With My Kids?
Here is where things start to get a bit sticky. Like our other answers, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The emphatic response we wish to convey is–CAREFULLY.
Going about dating after divorce wrong, when it comes to interacting with your kids, could be very detrimental to them.
Answer: Make Sure Things Are Serious Before Introducing Them to Someone New
Before you introduce your kids to a new partner, it is important to make sure that your partner will stick around. You do not want to be introducing your kids to a bunch of different people. Doing so can be very confusing to them, especially if they are young.
Answer: Be Mindful When Telling Your Kids
When telling your children you have a new partner, do so carefully. Be clear. Be concise. Be honest. Tell them what you are looking for in a partner.
Reassure your kids that this does not change how you feel about them.
Give them the time and space needed to understand.
Let them ask questions and answer them honestly.
Answer: Talk With Your Ex Before Introducing Them to Someone New
If your relationship with your ex is decent, have a conversation about when it is okay to introduce your kids to someone new. Hopefully, this is a conversation that can be had before you find a new partner. That way, it will not come as a surprise.
But even so, your ex probably deserves a say about when and how to inform your kids.
Answer: You Know Your Kids
Obviously, you know your kids better than anyone else does. You know where they are developmentally, and what they can and cannot handle.
Use that knowledge when considering the best way to tell them you are dating after divorce. And definitely consider that before introducing them to a new partner.