Dating after divorce can be intimidating at best. Here are a few things to consider before you say yes to that first date. Good luck!
1. Are you ready?
Don’t date again just because your friends are on your case about it. Don’t rush yourself — or feel guilty if you’re ready “too soon.” Only you can really assess when you’re ready to reenter the dating world. If you feel like you’ve mourned your ended marriage, owned your role in the divorce, and can let go of any residual bitterness and sadness, it might be time to start meeting new people again.
2. Gather a support system.
Nervous? Overwhelmed? Insecure? Now’s the time to lean on your support system. Consult with close friends and family about your desire to start dating again. If you’re seeing a therapist, bring up dating in those session, too. Having people to process dates with — and to reassure you when buried feelings resurface — is invaluable. Let them cheer you on, encourage you and challenge you as you start this new chapter.
3. Know what you’re looking for.
Before you start dating again, take some time to determine what you need in a relationship. What does a healthy relationship look like to you? What have you learned from the mistakes of the last one? If some things in a partner are nonnegotiable to you — emotional stability and good communication, for example — then decide that you won’t compromise in these area. Keep your standards high.
4. Talk to your kids.
If you have kids — and they still live at home — talk about dating with them. They don’t need to know all the details, but they likely will want reassurance that they’re still the priority in your life. Listen to and respect their concerns, but don’t let them dictate who or when you’ll be dating.
Be very selective when it comes to introducing dates to your children. Wait until there’s a certain level of commitment before you make any big introductions. You don’t want to overwhelm your young ones or risk them growing more attached to your date than you are.
5. Be honest — but keep your ex out of it.
Don’t hide the fact that you’re divorced from a date. Be upfront about your past, but don’t overshare, either. Provide a few clear facts, then move on to more interesting subjects: you and your date.
It can be easy to bash an ex when the topic of divorce comes up, or to subconsciously (or consciously) compare your date to your ex-spouse. Don’t. Give your date a fair chance by leaving your ex out of the dating equation.
6. Be patient.
Don’t put unrealistic expectations on your dating life. The next person you date does not need to become your next spouse. Nor does a rejection mean you’re undateable.
Let yourself off the hook and have fun. Meet new people. Try new things. Wait for the right person to come along, even if that takes a while.
7. Take care of yourself.
Put yourself first. (It’s probably been a while, right?) Pursue the things you love, surround yourself with people who make you feel your best, only wear what makes you look and feel great, and start prioritizing your own emotional and physical needs. Embrace new challenges and start looking at this phase of life as a new adventure. Who knows who you’ll meet along the way?