Are you REALLY ready to get back in the game?
Once your divorce is inevitable, you’re probably going to start thinking about the possibility of another relationship. These thoughts can stir up all kinds of emotions — fear, disbelief, curiosity, confusion, frustration, intimidation and excitement.
Not only has dating game changed (HELLO, Tinder, eHarmony, Match and OKCupid!), but you've changed. Marriage, parenthood and divorce tend to do that to a person.
So before you run full tilt into the dating life after divorce, you’ll want to make sure you have a few things in order:
1. Make sure you’re ACTUALLY ready to date.
Being healed from your divorce means that you understand why your marriage failed — including your part in it. It really does take two for a relationship to bust, but you've got take some responsibility for it.
Moving on means you can talk about something else besides your divorce or your ex. Being ready to date means that you’ve spent some time creating a new post-divorce life that you're enjoying.
2. Decide what your dating goal is.
Not everyone dates for the same reason. Maybe your goal is hooking up, validating that you’re desirable, companionship, finding a relationship or even searching for your real soul mate. Although it's possible to pursue more than one goal at a time, you’ll have the best luck if you can narrow it down. Each of these goals require a different type and quality of focus.
3. Determine the type of people you’d like to date.
After divorce (or even a bad breakup) most people approach dating with their ex in mind. Either they accept that their ex is their type, or they decide they want nothing to do with anyone who reminds them in any way of their past relationship. The truth is you’re a different person than the one you were when you got married, so chances are you don’t really know who’s going to be the right type of person for you now.
Start off by making a list of desirable and deal-breaker qualities.This will help you narrow down the field (or expand it) so you won’t be a slave to thinking you’re only attracted to a certain type.
4. Love yourself.
The last thing you want to do when you’re dating is be (or at least appear) desperate. Desperation is a HUGE turnoff to pretty much everyone. So do what you need to do to feel good about you and your post-divorce life.
If that means going to the gym and getting fit, do it. If it means getting a makeover, do it. Confidence and personal style are attractive. And attractive is definitely what you’re going for when you’re dating.
5. Be patient.
Unless hook ups are your only dating goal, then patience is a virtue. Rushing things will only get you more heartache (yes, mine is the voice of heartbroken experience). You also don’t want to settle for someone just because you’re tired of being alone.
Take your time choosing who you’ll spend your time with. Your time is valuable. You love and respect yourself too much to waste it on people who don’t deserve you.
6. Date 2-3 people at the same time.
You aren’t going to know everything about someone immediately and it’s really helpful to have others to compare and contrast them with.
It takes time (and Google) to learn about who you’re dating. You’re going to want to ask lots of questions. You’re also going to answer a lot of questions, so the more honest you can be the better off you’ll be able to evaluate whether or not you want to continue seeing someone.
7. Decide to have fun.
Dating should be fun! Be flirtatious, laugh and smile a lot. Stay positive and look at dating as a great big adventure. But if it starts to feel like work or begins to take up too much of your time, then reevaluate the place that dating has in your life and make sure you’re spending the time you need on the rest of your life.
Just because your post-divorce dating starts off a bit bumpy doesn’t mean you should give it up and decide to be celibate for the rest of your life (although, if that truly works for you, go for it).
Dating is just you experimenting and testing both yourself and each person you go out with. Sometimes you’ll have a lot of fun. Sometimes you’ll be ready for the date to end before you’ve finished saying “Hi.” Regardless, dating can be an incredibly enriching (and fabulous) part of your life after divorce.
This article was originally published at Dr. Karen Finn's blog. Reprinted with permission from the author.