The 6 Biggest Mistakes People Make Right After Getting Divorced

The marriage is over, but don't rush into these errors.

Last updated on Apr 28, 2024

Woman contacting her ex making divorce process more difficult pixelshot, Maksym Povozniuk | Canva

The process of healing after a divorce can feel like an insult to injury. You just want to move on and heal your broken heart. The divorce process stinks. It just does. The hurt, the anger, the loss of seemingly everything: companionship, security, self-esteem. It’s tough enough trying to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. But, now, you have to fight against being your own worst enemy as you work on getting over it ending.


The inherent challenge of moving on from the end of a relationship is fighting the urge to connect. You build a relationship by striving in all you do to connect more genuinely, more intimately. To suddenly have that call-to-action ripped out from under you is a real blow. It’s like expecting a moving train to stop on a dime and go back to where it came from.

But, whether or not it is apparent to you now, this time of healing and rebuilding your life after divorce is a time of great potential. Sure, you didn’t want or plan to be here. But the beauty of life is that it is an equal-opportunity benefactor, and it imbues every situation with opportunities for exponential growth. If you’re in the process of healing after a divorce (or even a breakup) and feel maddened by the frustrations and temptations, don't stress. Sometimes the message of "what to do" is more impactful if written as "what not to do."


You may recognize your own behavior in the following mistakes people make in the aftermath of a divorce. Absorb the recognition and the lessons as to why those mistakes don’t serve your effort into learning how to get over someone and move on. Trust that everything is falling into place to facilitate your highest good and happiness. So, if you're ready to learn how to move on and heal from the heartbreak of divorce, here are the 6 mistakes to avoid.

RELATED: 4 Common Mistakes Women Make When Breaking Up, According To Divorce Attorneys

Here are the 6 biggest mistakes people make right after getting divorced:

1. Contacting your ex right after the split

Yes, it’s natural. You’ve been calling and texting your ex all day every day for so long that you almost don’t know how not to. But, now you want to know what your ex is thinking, doing, and feeling. You instinctively want to keep tabs, vent your anger, and hear those three-word phrases: "I miss you" and "I love you."

@wanderlusqt Replying to @Jennifer Claire if you hold back and do not send the text, they will at some point. #natalielouise #relationshipcoachnatalielouise #attachmentstyle #getoveryourex💔 ♬ original sound - natalie louise

Rushing to contact your ex only delays your healing after a divorce. It’s like pushing the hold button and keeping the relationship — even in an unhealthy state — alive. One more day on life support, with no promise of a future. When you resist the natural urge to contact your ex for anything other than essential business (like your kids), you start healing. You may not feel the healing, but you will be growing stronger from your self-control.


2. Obsessing over your ex’s social media presence

Okay, so, if you can’t make contact directly, why not do it indirectly? Sit in bed with nothing but your smartphone to light up your tear-stained face as you stalk your ex in private. You head straight to Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram, looking for any sign of happiness or despair in your ex’s life. You expand photos and evaluate facial expressions and anyone who might be hiding in the background.

You read all the comment streams to see what your mutual friends know and say. You check to make sure you are still on your ex’s friends list and in his or her old posts and photos. Just. Keep. Hanging. On. Surely this isn’t how you see yourself five years from now, so why start now? You have a thousand other social media friends who are cheering you on. Take the plunge and unfollow/unfriend the one who is no longer central to your life. Set some boundaries and protect yourself from seeing things that will upset you during this vulnerable time.

RELATED: You Can't Truly Put Your Divorce Behind You Without Doing 4 Little Things

3. Showing up in all those old, familiar places

Remember that, just as you weren’t the only person in your relationship, you aren’t the only one coping with divorce. Both of you are drowning in emotions and lifestyle adjustments. Both of you need to find a way to move on. And neither of you will ever achieve that vision of love and happiness by lurking in the shadows of something that will never be. Granted, you may legitimately bump into one another at some point. But take your ex’s favorite haunts off autopilot and fight the urge to see if they are home by curfew. You both need space and time for healing after a divorce.


4. "Casually" asking mutual friends about your ex

You want to know. I get it. But chances are you don’t even know what you want to know. Do you want to hear that your ex’s world has fallen apart? That they are miserable without you? Your curiosity in these early stages of a divorce is usually about putting bandaids on some of your own emotions.

Someday, when you’ve come through all the hurt and you look back on this relationship as a mere stepping stone to happiness, you will understand. And your curiosity will be genuine and grounded in a desire for your ex’s happiness, too. In the meantime, don’t put your friends on the spot. Your divorce was (and probably still is) hard on them, too.

RELATED: 9 Things I'd Do Way Differently If I Got Divorced Again

5. Wallowing in your misery and isolating from the world

You may feel on the outside of all your friendships now that you are single. And if you’d made your ex your whole world, it may have been some time since you were really part of "the group." But this is no time to waste away in the corner of your shattered life. Remember, when you’re healing after a divorce, life sends you nurses in the form of friends. And just as your friends want to be there for you, you need to allow their love to do its work. Trust that goodness will bring about more goodness. And allow yourself to feel the love.


6. Rushing to get into a new relationship

You may know it with your head, but your heart may not want to hear it. You’re not ready to get into a new relationship when you’re still healing from a divorce. Feeling lonely isn’t a good enough reason to take the plunge. And no amount of blaming your ex for your problems and breakup is going to give you a good reason, either.

You need this time to grieve your loss and learn from this relationship, not seek to replace it. It’s also essential that you spend time examining your own role in your relationship. How did you nurture it, and how did you contribute to its erosion? Rushing to fill the void of love in your life is usually an indication that you don’t want to look at your own responsibility.

Besides, the last thing you need is to get on a dating app and see your ex on there. Trust that you have loved all around you in just the ways that are necessary for your healing and future happiness. Getting over it ending, moving on, and healing after a divorce can be messy. And, as with a bad cold that gets passed around a home, you may wonder when you will ever feel better. Sometimes, the best step forward is simply not taking a step backward. If all you do in the early stages is to commit to avoiding the mistakes that only make things worse, you will be making progress. Trust life to show up for your greater good. And most importantly, trust yourself to recognize when it does. You’ve got this.


RELATED: The Surprising Thing That Helped Me Get Over My Divorce

Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce and life coach. Her writing on marriage, divorce, and co-parenting has appeared on MSN, Yahoo, Psych Central, Huffington Post, Prevention, and The Good Men Project, among others.