How to Start Dating Again After a Divorce
Your divorce is a fact of life. Your marriage has ended, despite any attempts you made to save it, and whether it was a terrible event or a blessing in disguise, you have to deal with the various consequences. The good news is that if you’re thinking about how to date again, you have probably already gone through most of the terrible feelings and events associated with a divorce. This doesn’t mean that you are fully healed, but simply that you may be ready to consider re-entering the dating world.
The way you feel after a divorce isn’t exactly ideal for dating. You will feel dissapointment, shame, sadness, maybe even a feeling of humiliation. You may wonder if there’s any point in starting over or if it is even possible to find the right person for you. The old adage that time heals all wounds may or may not be true — you may be ready to date again in a very short period of time after your divorce, or you may need years before you’re ready to step into the dating pool.
Divorce and Dating Statistics
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, ninety percent of all people will marry at some point in their lives but only about half of those first marriages will not end in a divorce. With so many divorces happening around the country, it is no surprise that the number of women and men living alone has doubled or even tripled, estimates ranging from 23 to 28 million single people living by themselves. The good news is that of those divorced after a first marriage, nearly another ninety percent of them will marry again.
One thing to watch out for — as divorcees get older they tend to date less and less. In a study conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, it was found that fifty percent of 18-year-olds go out on a date at least once a week, compared with only twenty-five percent of people aged 32. Don’t be alarmed by that statistic — convince yourself that you won’t be part of the dateless majority and remember that dating is possible at all stages of life.
Develop New Support Systems
After a divorce, it is only natural for you to seek out old friends. We all need support after life changing events, and old friends can supply memories and optimism that divorcees need. Old friends are far more likely to have your own best interest in mind — but don’t overlook the power of new friends. Since your whole life is new, new friends ease the adjustment period.
One reason to make new friends instead of relying on old is that divorces are often messy, with friends parceled out like so many possessions. People can’t help but take sides, even though it is unhealthy, and it will be hard to introduce someone new into your life if you’re having old friend drama. Sometimes people will be jealous of your newfound divorced life and freedom, so in those cases it is best to develop new associations.
Pay Attention to Your Self Worth
Divorce creates an air of low self esteem. That same low self esteem creates unhealthy relationships with people who see our low self esteem and prey on it, even unintentionally. If you’re suffering from a low self esteem post divorce (and mos people are) it is crucial that you rebuild your concept of self, a more positive way of looking at your life.
Though it sounds cheesy, you should start down the path of good self esteem by making a list of your good qualities. Make an honest list and keep it where you can see it often. If you have a good support group or a close family member who will take you seriously, show your list to those people who care about you and ask for their genuine feedback as soon as you’re ready to hear it. The point of this is to clear up your own (possibly confused) self evaluation and be more realistic about yourself. As you make this list, think of some positive affirmations that you can build into your daily routine. Reading this affirmations aloud will help strengthen your self worth and remind you of your new post divorce goals.
Prepare for the Downsides
Certain times of the year will be more difficult after a divorce. Whether it is a holiday, an anniversary or birthday, or even the anniversary of your divorce, those times will be hard to deal with, especially if you’re trying to date. If you’re feeling a heavy sense of loss or loneliness, dating may be the worst thing to do. That’s why dating should be avoided for some people at certain times, especially soon after a divorce.
Your first Christmas or holiday season without your ex will be one of the toughest times post-divorce. The weeks leading up to a holiday are included — all of your traditions are disrupted and those disruptions are a constant reminder that you no longer share that closeness with a person you love. Fear that you’ll never find someone special against could lead to poor dating choices, just to numb the pain of the holidays.
If you are having trouble with feelings about your divorce, adding a new person to your social mix could be unwise. Instead, focus on the connections you already have built in, like those with family or friends. Diverting your attention from the divorce blues (like hosting a holiday party or taking part in community activities) is crucial to maintaining a good post-divorce dating attitude.
Experts on stress and grief tell us that planning for the sad times is as important as anything else in reducing divorce stress and allowing yourself to meet and befriend new people. The key to overcoming the doldrums of divorce could be simply asking for help, whether you want help finding new activities or help with overwhelming stress. If you focus on your past holiday activities, you’ll never get back into the dating scene. Focus instead on your current and future holidays and interactions.
Dating after a divorce is a necessary part of recovery. As long as you are awawre of your self worth and prepare for the possible downsides of life after a divorce (and have a support system built in) you can return to normalcy in very little time.