5 Things You Should Know Before You Start Dating After Divorce

Don't dive headfirst into dating after divorce until you read this.

dating after divorce getty

Are you scared of dating after divorce? You should be if you’re unprepared and misguided.

Often times, dating after getting a divorce is about finding new sex, comfort, maybe even evidence that you’re just fine and ready for the rest of what life has to offer. Unfortunately, for many, that optimism is short-lived, especially after a series of uncomfortable dates or needy love-making.

I am constantly amazed at the fortitude people tend to have after divorce. They have this desire to get it right, a need for companionship, a misguided sense of being able to live on their own, and their willingness to persevere — to find what they’re looking for and to go on date after date in order to do so.


RELATED: 17 Essential Rules For Dating After Divorce

But just because you're ready to have sex again or consider a new relationship doesn't necessarily mean that you're fine, healthy, or ready to dance the jig after your divorce. It doesn't mean you can handle being alone again or entertaining a new lover without emotional repercussions.


Dating after divorce involves a lot of emotional preparation.

So before you dive in, here are 3 things women should know about dating after divorce:

1. You’ll naturally be drawn to men most like your ex. 

This is no fault of yours, it’s simply the way you’ve been wired and the effect of the amount of time you’ve spent with your ex-partner.


So naturally, when you meet new people, those who are most like your ex are going to be the most comfortable. You won't see this in any obvious fashion — it usually doesn't show up until that new relationship ends. But eventually, you’ll notice it, which is why those first few hook-ups usually add more fuel to the fire of a broken heart.

I remember my first forays into going on dates after my divorce. I knew that those I usually gravitated to were the worst for me. And even though there was an attraction, the flirting and sex would eventually get me into hot water.

Time after time, I noticed that even though they looked different, had different levels of education, different body types, or hair color, ultimately, they were the same type of man: controlling, needy, wanting me to be a certain way. And inevitably, the relationship would end.

2. It'll take time to redefine who you are now — away from the marriage and fights.

You have to get to know who you are again on your own. What makes you happy? What turns you on? What kind of food do you prefer to eat? What TV shows do you really want to watch? How do you like to spend your weekends?


As you become reacquainted with yourself after divorce, you have to become willing to date a lot of different people. It’s part of the new experiment... which can also lead to more broken hearts.

3. Get clear on what you want from dating — so you can tell the new man you're seeing.

Most people are not ready for a speedy commitment right after divorce. If you’re just looking to make love, tell someone. Try saying this: "I really like you, want to spend time with you and have sex with you, but I’m not emotionally ready for a committed relationship." 

But if you’re pretending to want a relationship and unwilling to go through the stages of negotiating the terms of your commitment because you just want sex, you’ll break a lot of hearts. There are plenty of men and women willing to have sex without needing a relationship. What they want is communication.


And what your potential lover wants is to have a fair chance to make the decision for themselves, not be promised one thing and then ghosted after a few months. Doing so just adds to their past betrayals and re-injures their broken hearts.

RELATED: What To Do If Dating After Divorce Feels Like Cheating

4. Remember that everyone has a past.

In order to handle dating after divorce, you’ll want to remember that everyone you meet has a past — just like you do! That they’re doing the best they can and that most likely, you can’t help them heal on your own.

You get to add delight to their lives. You get to be charming, kind, and romantic. You get to show up speaking in full sentences and communicating where you are in the process. You don’t get to pretend that romance, sex, and the oxytocin hormone (that love/bonding hormone) means you’ve found your soulmate.


Equally, you don’t have to pretend that you can manage being single the rest of your life.

5. Accept that you'll need time to heal.

In order to handle dating after divorce, you have to know that you need time to heal. There will be a time, once you do your work, when you’ll be ready for all that relationships have to offer including, the negotiating stages, the commitment, and possibly even marriage again.

But without being informed and on the right track, you will find the experience hard, even scary:

  • Develop an awareness of who you are today and what you want.
  • Learn what dating means in this online dating world and the number of dates you’ll most likely go on. (Often between 100-300!)
  • Learn what uncommitted sex looks like when you are the one falling in love!
  • Trust you’re on the right path when you’re able to manage the loneliness and loss of your marriage without needing to use others to make the pain go away.
  • Believe that love is possible. It’s what we do when we’re at our best, so try not to pretend you don’t need it.

If these suggestions seem difficult on your own, consider my daily emails to help you understand what you’re up against. You don't need to be afraid of dating. But, you do, however, need to take some time to heal and understand the love you have to offer yourself and others.

RELATED: Do Not Start Dating After Divorce Until You Memorize These 11 Things

Laura Bonarrigo is a Certified Life Coach and a Certified Divorce Coach. She is a writer, public speaker, and the founder of doingDivorce School, an online coaching program for those ready to shed the pain of divorce. For empowering and practical ways to lose the identity of your past, visit her website.