Dating After Divorce
Updated: Mar 6, 2020
One of the adjustments to make after being in a long term committed relationship is adapting to life again as a single person. Loneliness and a fear of a future alone can become a central preoccupation for you.
Many would advise against getting involved in a serious relationship for about the first two years after a divorce, simply because emotional healing and resolution is further down the line. The rebound relationship can result in relationship decisions being made more on intense emotional needs for reassurance and reconnection and less on sound judgement. In summary, one line of thinking is that the less you have resolved your issues from the divorce, the more your new relationships will be contaminated by them.
There is a very high divorce rate amongst second marriages, often because people rush into living together or remarrying to prevent loneliness, rather than healing first and going into new relationships in a more integrated way.
However, it is more likely that given the chance of a good enough relationship vs a period of reflection and healing, most people will choose a relationship if the opportunity arises. In this case it is important to work on your issues while being in the relationship. They don’t go away, but become intensified as soon as you become attached to someone else. Relationships always involve expectations, whether you are aware of them or not.
Some people choose not to date again and others avoid it because they do not know how to overcome negative thoughts or fears about themselves or relationships. The risk of being hurt or rejected can paralyze some people who are very proficient in many other areas of their lives.
David Andes and Rosemary Clandos (2003) write about the importance of setting personal standards They refer to what you have to offer in a relationship and your ability to attract desirable traits in others as your “social price”
This is reflected in your actions, body language and verbal communication. They concluded that those who were seen to have high dating standards were seen by others to hold an increased potential of marriage i.e. viewed as desirable long term partners. Conversely those who appear insecure and desperate, call their love interest excessively and engage in sexual activity too soon send signals that they hold inferior traits i.e. that their social price is low.
It is about how we, in different ways, communicate our self worth and invite others to respond to us.
Some thoughts to consider:-
Being single should not be your main identity. It is just where you are now.
Don’t look to a relationship to heal you.
Try not to get involved with someone who is looking to you to heal them.
See dating initially as a time to find out how others respond to you and you to them. It is a time where you recreate an identity as a single person. This evolves over time.
Don’t imagine that each person who takes you out is going to become a relationship.
Do not see dating as a means to replacing your marriage. See it as dating – that is all for now.
Do not compare your dates to your ex partner. See each person as a unique person for who they are.
Try and see this as an opportunity to build up your confidence, rather than a terrifying ordeal that you have to get through to avoid being alone.
Accept all invitations within reason to start getting out there i.e. be prepared to move out of your comfort zone - but be discriminating and trust your judgement.
Do not let new people know where you live and rather meet in public places until you know more about them.
Give people the benefit of the doubt of more than one date unless you really do not like them. Many people are as nervous as you are.
Don’t discuss your messy divorce, bad mouth your ex or over- disclose. Keep it general at first.
Do not involve children until you have got to know the person and believe that you are going to spend a lot of time with them.
If you decide to be sexually active – be vigilant about your safety. Know who this person is and think about what message you put across.
Nobody comes empty handed. Assess the emotional and physical baggage your date comes with. Respect it but ask yourself if you are willing or capable of taking it on if the relationship develops.
If you use commonly accepted online dating sites, there is a lot written about how to negotiate this medium. Don’t over disclose, lie or rush into meeting someone you have just made contact with. Remember they are also in contact with a number of other people online. If you are extremely sensitive or vulnerable to rejection, this may not be for you.
If you use a dating agency – also commonly accepted - do a check. They are expensive and many don’t deliver what they promise. Use www.hellopeter.com or other consumer websites to check for complaints before parting with your money.
Create a strong friendship group to have a social life and connectedness with others.