After being with one person for years or even decades, it can be daunting to re-enter the dating pool.
Every split takes two, so it is useful after a break-up to reflect, mourn the loss, and think about what you could do differently in your next relationship.
It’s best not to rush into the arms of someone new immediately after your divorce is final. You need time to heal, time to feel ready, and time to be willing to feel all the emotions involved in dating again.
Dating after Divorce
When it’s time, here are some tips for getting back in circulation:
Set realistic expectations. The first few (or twenty) people you go out with will probably not be your new soul mate. Look at dates as opportunities to learn more about yourself and the new life you are building.
Every relationship has its challenges. It’s not helpful to compare each new person you meet to your ex, or to try to change yourself to fix what your ex didn’t like about you.
Be yourself. Don’t hide things about yourself that a new partner will need to know to determine whether you share values.
Take it easy. You don’t have to jump in with two feet. Take time to get to know the person with long phone conversations, a variety of dates, and outings with friends before becoming physically intimate. Consider spending at least 6 months with someone before introducing them to your children.
Be patient. It is going to take some time to work through all the emotions that dating is going to bring up. Be compassionate with yourself, listen to your intuition, and accept that you have wants and needs you deserve to have fulfilled.
Decide what you are looking for. What are your priorities in a partner? What values are most important to you? Do you have deal-breakers? Save time by making these decisions before you start dating again.
Keep your eyes open. Particularly when it comes to online dating. Do research on sites before you use them. If have a bad feeling about someone, move on. Pay attention to red flags. And run from anyone who blames their ex for everything wrong in their life.
Bring your best self. Consider therapy to increase your self-awareness through the dating process. If you are mentally healthy, you will attract the same.
Sex with Someone New
New sex can be scary…or exciting, especially if your marriage did not include much sex at the end (or ever). But even if you are particularly eager to express yourself sexually again, be careful. Don’t set your sights too low just to feel alive again. Wait to get involved physically until you are ready, and have discussed what having sex with this person at this time means.
It is easy to make the mistake of having sex because you need to feel attached to someone, or have the low self-esteem that often comes with a split. Be sure you are taking this step for healthy reasons. If you just need sex and don’t want any commitment, communicate that and be safe.
Avoid ‘revenge sex,’ but also don’t be surprised if it seems awkward, or you feel guilty. These feelings are normal.
Keep everything in perspective. Just because sex again after a drought is amazing, doesn’t mean this new partner is.
Whatever you do, be cautious getting back with exes from before your marriage. Sometimes they work out, but usually they don’t, for the same reasons they didn’t before.