Dating After Divorce

Dating After Divorce: How to Prepare for a New Chapter

According to researchers, divorce is the second most stressful life event one can experience. Preceded only by the death of a loved one and followed by a health crisis. Dating after divorce can be equally stressful if you’re not prepared. 

The first thing you should consider is how dating has evolved tremendously over the last decade. Tinder came on the scene in September 2012, followed by Bumble in 2014.

So, chances are things will be very different from first dates you’ve experienced in the past. Gone are the days of buying her flowers and picking her up at her front door for a first date

When to Get Back Out There

Unfortunately, I cannot definitively say when someone is ready to start dating after divorce. Every relationship is different; every person is different. Only you will know when you’re ready; move at your own pace.

Your friends and family will encourage you to move on and play the field. They mean well, but you know yourself better than anyone else does. Trust your gut. It’s okay if you’re not ready. 

You should wait until your marriage is officially over, including all the legalities: separation of assets, custody agreements, alimony, etc.

If you are emotionally over your ex, but the paperwork isn’t quite dry, I would advise you to just put off seriously considering another relationship for those last few months. 

Things start to get messy when you start something new without tying up all of your loose ends first. 

Secondly, ask yourself—is it really another relationship you want? Don’t fire up the dating apps just because you’re feeling a bit lonely on Sunday evening. Are you looking for validation in the form of shirtless bathroom selfies or are you truly ready to open your heart and life up to another person?

When a marriage dissolves, so does the dream of a life together. You planned forever with someone; imagined growing old with her. Then, suddenly it’s all gone. You have to take the time to mourn the loss, just as you would a death.

As painful as it is, let yourself experience the grief. Don’t try to mask it with new women—that will only delay your healing.

After about a year, most people feel ready to move on. But you should still expect some intense feelings to pop up from time to time. Trauma has a way of doing that. Allow yourself to have those mini meltdowns. It is a natural part of the healing process and it means you’re one step closer to dating after divorce.

Use this time alone to learn about yourself. Reflect on your failed marriage. Will you do anything differently next time? What characteristics will you look for when you’re ready to start dating after divorce? 

What to Expect When You’re Dating After Divorce

It’s normal to struggle with how to step out of the husband role and into the boyfriend position.

This woman has not made a commitment to you yet. You have not stood in front of God and your loved ones to say vows. You are not her husband.

Let me say that one more time—you are not her husband.

Maybe someday you will be her husband, but don’t rush it. Don’t force it. Relish your time as the boyfriend. Learn about yourself, your partner, and how you fit into one another’s lives. Use this time to see if she is someone you could spend forever with.

Don’t use intimacy to manipulate the situation. Some people use physical touch with multiple partners as a way to escape their emotions. Others combine sex and monogamy in an attempt to make the relationship progress more quickly.

Both usually end in disaster.

When you’re used to being one-half of a whole, it’s very difficult to learn how to be on your own. It’s a lonely process full of self-doubt.

There will be women who seem perfect for weeks and they will disappear out of thin air. This is called ghosting.

Try Something New

I would wager you learned a thing or two about yourself during your divorce that you didn’t know before. I challenge you to continue doing that. Expand your horizons. Try new things. Work on yourself. See a therapist. Start a new hobby.

Explore your deal breakers and really discern if they are things you need in a partner or just preferences you want. Go out with women you normally wouldn’t consider.

Give personality and common interest your primary attention, and make physical attraction a secondary criteria. Science has shown that attraction grows over time. Our brains release a cocktail of happy hormones whenever we are around people who make us laugh and feel good. 

The more time you spend with that person, the better she looks.

You may find that you’re attracted to women who look nothing like your ex. Trauma has a way of doing that too.

Trust that if your Matchmaker suggests someone, there is a definitive reason that the two of you were paired. This is your chance to meet all different types of women from various backgrounds and cultures.

Give it a shot. I dare you.