Mastering Dating After Divorce (Even If You’d Just Rather Give Up)

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Dating after divorce can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you were married for a long time.

You may go on a few bad dates and think that it might be easier to just give up and stay single.

Don’t despair! You can definitely find love again!

If you’ve taken time to heal your heart and are ready to put yourself out there again, you may wonder what’s changed. Well, it's you.

Maybe you’re curious to meet new people and you want to keep things casual. Or, perhaps you know you want another serious relationship.

One of the biggest problems with getting back into dating after years of being married is that you may feel like you don’t understand the rules anymore.

RELATED: The 3 Biggest Dating Mistakes Women Make After Getting Divorced

Dating after divorce is different than dating in your teens and 20s.

When you were young, dating was relatively easy. Most people you meet through your friends are single and you have a large social circle to meet new people. Plus, a new relationship doesn’t feel so serious.

But when you’re older and divorced, you're likely a bit more guarded and have specific criteria of what you are looking for in your next partner.

The people you meet have had their own heartbreaks and emotional baggage. It’s also likely that your social circle is comprised mostly of other married couples.

This can make dating feel difficult and somewhat daunting. But the experience can be fun and rewarding, even if you don’t immediately meet your new soulmate.

Here are 11 ways to master dating after divorce (even if you'd rather give up).

1. Make sure you're ready.

Still thinking or talking constantly about your ex? You might have some healing to do before you're ready to enter the dating world again.

No one wants to date someone who's still hung up on their ex.

Don’t rush into dating, just because you don’t like being alone. You’re not doing anyone any favors when you're emotionally unavailable for a relationship.

Instead, take time to process your negative emotions about the breakup. When you can go on a date and not make comparisons to your ex, then you’re probably ready to take dating seriously.

2. Get clear on your past mistakes.

The phrase, "Those who don’t understand history are bound to repeat it" definitely applies to dating after divorce. Take time to examine why your marriage ended, and take responsibility for your part.

You are not 100-percent responsible for the relationship ending, only for your side of things. Know where you can improve on your relationship skills. Own the mistakes you made and make a promise to yourself to do better next time.

You may need to upgrade your communication skills or break unhealthy relationship patterns. You don’t need to be perfect, but you should be aware of patterns and strategies that didn’t work in your marriage and make some effort to change them.

3. Forgive yourself and your ex.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean excusing bad behavior. It means you're no longer tied to your ex, energetically and emotionally.

Do you find yourself reliving everything that happened in your mind, wondering if you could have said or done something differently? Are you carrying around anger and resentment about your ex that you're unable to let go?

Everyone makes an error in judgment, sometimes. Holding onto those mistakes will only leave you feeling tired and bitter.

You're worthy of love and you can find it again. Forgiveness will open your heart to the possibility of finding a new love that will last and bring you deep satisfaction.

4. Don’t date like a teenager.

Teenagers have raging hormones and tend to go all-in as soon as they find someone they are attracted to. They become obsessive over one person, and are oftwn convinced that is the only person they will ever love.

These dating strategies may seem foolish to you now, but you’d be surprised how many grown adults make the same mistakes and behave like teenagers in love.

Don’t assume that the strategies you used in your youth will be helpful to you as an adult.

Love is an amazing and magical feeling with the right person. But finding lasting love is not a magical process that just happens when you least expect it.

Take an intentional approach to dating. Use it to weed out people who are not a good fit. Refine your search, depending on the results you are getting.

You’ll want to remain open and curious and have fun along the way. But you don’t want to get carried away like some love-obsessed teenager.

5. Date slowly and don't rush commitment.

Take your time getting to know someone. Date more than one person at a time.

Don’t rush into bed before you're ready. Slowing down the dating process allows you to avoid many of the mistakes of the past.

You can evaluate a stranger over time, instead of giving a stranger the benefit of the doubt. Never give a stranger the power to determine if you feel desirable.

When you go on dates with people who may not seem like your type, you discover a lot about yourself and you get to practice your communication skills without too much risk.

6. Don’t complain about your ex

It may feel cathartic to dump on your ex during a date. However, doing so will not bring you closer to getting the love you want.

If you need to vent about your ex, call a friend instead of being that person on a date. Every date shouldn't be about your divorce.

You are a whole being with interests, hobbies, and opinions so share who you are and focus on the positive. Share what lights you up and what inspires you when you’re meeting someone new.

Share your dreams and goals, and see who steps up to meet you there. Bonding over your dreams and goals creates a much stronger bond than over your pain and frustrations.

RELATED: 4 Freeing Signs You're Ready To Start Dating Again Post-Divorce

7. Don’t put too much emphasis on chemistry.

Chemistry and attraction are important in a relationship, but they're not the only important qualities in a healthy relationship.

Attraction is only one ingredient. Don’t put too much emphasis on chemistry and forget everything else you desire.

Putting too much emphasis on attraction can lead you to date a lot of people who are not a good match for you in the long term.

Lasting love comes from sharing the same values. When you have shared values, you will be much more able to navigate the challenges that life will inevitably throw your way.

Take time to create a vision of your ideal relationship, and then date to find a match to the vision.

Get clear on what's really important to you and the dynamic of your ideal relationship.

When you take time through the dating process, you can discover what this new person values and see if the two of you can navigate through conflict together.

8. Nothing is real until you meet in person.

You will come across plenty of fake profiles while online dating. There are even high-profile stories of people who were victims of a scam on a dating site.

This won’t happen to you if you focus on one simple rule: Nothing is real until you meet in person.

Scammers like to build trust and emotional intimacy through texts, emails, and phone calls. But once you meet in person you put a face to a voice and a name. The chances that you’ve met a scammer are significantly reduced.

Plus, if you never give money to a stranger, you’ll never be scammed.

The best way to protect yourself is to never invest emotionally in someone you’ve never seen face-to-face. Be sure to ID the person through video chat and see that their photograph matches who they really are.

9. Focus on authenticity.

Your life is busy, so you don’t want to meet anyone playing games. It may seem a little scary as your heart may be a little scarred from your divorce, the key to finding an ideal match is by being authentic.

Authenticity means that you share how you feel and what you want. It isn’t about your opinion of your date. Authenticity is an invitation.

Through the dating process, as you share about yourself you’ll find out who is really into you. The cream will rise to the top and you’ll connect more with one of the people you’re dating.

The only way to be loved for you really are is to show up as who you really are. It is completely freeing to know that when you are authentic you are able to be seen by someone who will love you, without needing you to change.

Plus, when you’ve just met someone new you have nothing to lose by letting your freak flag fly! That is what your beloved will love about you most of all.

10. Don’t rush to introduce your children.

It may seem scary for your children to know that you’re going out to meet strangers. The last thing you want to do is rush to introduce your dates to your children.

They are probably going through enough anyway with the divorce. So, wait until you're exclusively dating one person for a considerable amount of time before introducing your children.

You’ll also want to consider the age of your children in this decision. The younger the kids, the longer you’ll want to wait.

11. Focus on what you desire.

You don’t want a repeat of what didn’t work out in your past relationship.

So, if your ex cheated, look for someone faithful. If your ex didn't communicate well, find someone who wears their heart on their sleeve. If your ex was ambivalent about you, desire someone who's head over heels for you.

What you truly desire is not the opposite of what you do not want. Focus on what you really want.

What could be possible for you if you allowed yourself to dream big? Get clear on how you want your ideal relationship to function.

Then, go out and find the person who wants to create that dream with you.

Dating after divorce can seem daunting at first. But once you embrace a new approach to creating lasting love, you will find that your search can be fun and exciting.

RELATED: 6 Essential Dating Tips To Crush The Fear & Anxiety Of Dating After Divorce

Orna and Matthew Walters have been soulmate coaches for over a decade and helped thousands of readers create long-lasting love. Download a complimentary copy of their ebook, "Recognizing Mr. Right," along with a guided program on self-acceptance from their website.

This article was originally published at Creating Love On Purpose. Reprinted with permission from the author.