Don't let unresolved feelings from your last relationship keep you from finding new love.
I had lots of questions during and after my divorce: How do I choose an attorney? When will this pain stop? Can I live on this budget? How do I know if I'm ready to date?
OK, the truth is that I wish I'd asked myself that last question. But unfortunately, I didn't ... not until a couple of years after I began the dating process again and, boy, let me tell you, not asking that question made things so much more complicated and painful than they needed to be!
But, my experience is what many divorced people go through. We want to put our past behind us and quickly move forward with our lives. We want to feel desirable again and maybe even find love. But many of us jump back into the dating world far too soon before asking ourselves 7 questions that really help clarify whether you're ready or not:
- Are you still hoping to reconcile with your ex? If you are, then you are still heavily invested in your past. You won't really be paying attention to the people you date because you're just viewing them as your back-up plan. Both you and your date(s) deserve your plan-A attention when you're out together.
- Are you dating someone who is exactly like your ex? If so, you're likely not over your ex yet. Give yourself a chance to heal a bit more from your divorce before returning to the dating world.
- Are you dating someone who is completely opposite from your ex? You're probably still angry with your ex and not quite done with healing from your divorce. Finish healing so your heart will be drawn to people you're actually interested in instead of rebelliously going out with someone who represents the opposite of what frustrated you about your ex.
- Is your favorite topic of conversation your ex and/or your divorce? Still talking endlessly about the ins and outs of your divorce is a tell-tale sign that you are still trying to process the grief of the your divorce experience. Sorry but you're not quite ready to date if for no other reason than that someone new deserves a better topic of conversation (like what you like and what makes you happy) than your divorce drama.
- Are you only dating because someone asked you out? I can relate; this is exactly what I did. Someone showing interest in you feels nice, but that doesn't make the person right for you. Give it some real thought before you just say yes.
- Do you want to date to get even with your ex? Just because your ex is out there getting busy doesn't mean you have to be. Despite the desire to not be left behind, everyone has choices to make when they get divorced. Among the choices is whether or not to experience the grief and truly process past it or whether to try to numb it out. By experiencing it and allowing yourself to fully heal before deciding to date, you'll be improving the chances of finding wonderful (and equally well-adjusted) people to date and hopefully even a great new love relationship.
- Do you want to date just to know you're desirable? I really, really wanted to know that I was desirable when I started dating. I wanted to know so badly that I repeatedly asked the first guy who asked me out if he found me attractive. (No surprise, he didn't ask me out again. I think I scared him off!) Remember, what is most attractive is an authentically confident woman who knows her worth. So spend some time getting to know yourself again until you feel attractive and desirable within yourself without needing to prove it by dating.
Figuring out when you're ready to date is one of the big questions just about everyone faces after divorce. By spending some quality time asking yourself the seven questions above you'll have a guide to knowing when you're really ready to get back out there.
Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce coach and advisor helping people who are considering divorce make a smart decision about staying or leaving their marriage. You can join her anonymous newsletter group for free advice or email her at Karen@functionaldivorce.com for a free consultation. Don’t let the worry about divorce ruin your life, help is available as soon as you’re ready.