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When Are You Really Ready To Begin Dating After Divorce?

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When your marriage which you thought would stand the test of time ends, your heart understandably is broken. It’s normal to feel completely lost, afraid and all alone. It’s also natural to start wondering about when to date after divorce because you want the pain to go away. You want to know that someone else could want you.

In fact, your anxiety is propelling you toward others in search of love – even if you’ve still got your heartbreak to heal.

Yet, when you really start thinking about dating after divorce, you’re also filled with a bit of dread. After all, if your former beloved, the person who said they loved you actually didn’t, how likely is it that anyone else could truly love you?

With all these emotions and thoughts swirling through you, it’s no wonder that you’re struggling with self-esteem and self-confidence. Not to mention that your anxiety is trying to get your attention, so you’ll take actionto find love again.

Yet when you seriously contemplate dating after divorce, you begin to harshly judge yourself. You judge your appearance, what you could/should have done differently in your relationship, and even your inherent lovability.

These judgments will naturally trigger more anxiety. Grief and an odd combination of desire and pressure to move on to another relationship leaves everyone who experiences it feeling stressed and uncertain.

Yes, anxiety is simply part of the process of figuring out when to date after divorce. That’s because we all have a natural desire for connection. And the connection you had with your former mate is lost.

You, just like everyone else who has lost a love, need to heal before you’re completely ready to begin dating after divorce. And these three steps will help you prepare to find love again.

1. Accept that getting over the end of your relationship is difficult

Losing the person you thought would be with you through thick and thin is incredibly painful. There are huge vacancies in your life – not just the loss of love, but the loss of dreams you had for the future and your role as a spouse.

Allow yourself to grieve all that’s been lost. Be patient and gentle with yourself. And look at the past with appreciation for all that it taught you and who you’ve become as a result of going through it.

Ending a relationship that wasn’t working for both of you is a painful and major undertaking. Yet doing so took tremendous courage along with a lot of energy. You need time to heal – emotionally, mentally and physically.

Commit to giving yourself the gift of time to focus on getting back to who you know you are at your core. And after you’ve healed, you’ll discover that you’re better able to enjoy dating.

2. Take time to rediscover your best self

The singles scene is filled with people who aren’t ready to date after divorce. They’re the ones who on the first date feel compelled to explain either how horrible their ex is or to ask for validation that they are attractive and potentially lovable.

Don’t throw yourself into the dating pool until you’re ready. It’s okay to focus on yourself and find some joy in being alone before you begin your search for someone special.

Use this time to improve your physical and spiritual wellbeing. Take time to do things for yourself that you didn’t do before because you didn’t have the time.

And do a little dreaming too. What would you like your life to be like 3 months, 6 months, a year from today? Start setting goals. Then decide on the small steps you can begin taking to make your dreams a reality.

Putting energy into becoming your best self again will reward you with greater peace and renewed self-confidence. (A confident person is not only much more attractive and pleasant to be around, but also a better partner.)

And when you are your best self again, you’ll know yourself better too. You’ll know what you need, what you won’t tolerate, and what would be nice to have in your next relationship. Knowing all this will make dating after divorce much, much easier.

The gift you give yourself of becoming your best self goes beyond greater peace, confidence and clarity. When you befriend yourself, you’ll also discover that you don’t need a relationship to complete you, but rather a relationship to enrich you.

When you truly knowthis, you’ll also know that you’re completely ready to begin dating.

3. Learn what you can from your marriage

Every experience in life has the potential to teach us something. And a marriage – especially one that didn’t make it – provides a wealth of relationship experience. 

By examining your marriage, you can learn a great deal about yourself. What do you like about being in a relationship? How do you behave under pressure? What are your triggers? What wounds did you hope your spouse would help you heal (or perpetuate)? What wounds did your marriage and divorce create?

These aren’t simple questions. In fact, contemplating deep questions like these is an extremely difficult task. So difficult that many people choose to work with a professional– someone who can compassionately guide them through to finding their answers.

Unfortunately, many people choose to bypass this step because it is so difficult. Without taking the time to understand what went wrong in their previous relationship, they are likely to repeat it.

By facing what happened in your marriage and divorce, you’ll be able to make better choices in the future. You’ll be aware of how future relationships compare to the old one. It’s by making comparisons that we learn.

And, yes, making comparisons will likely cause your anxiety to heighten. But that’s a very good thing. Your anxiety is simply trying to alert you to painful situations of the past that are resurfacing so you can address them.

You may discover similarities between your old relationship and your new one. In this case, your anxiety is giving you the opportunity to decide if the similarities you’re seeing make moving forward helpful or harmful to you.

And if, by making the comparison, you see that your new relationship is actually different, you’ll be able to let yourself relax.

By working through these three steps, you’ll heal your heartbreak and become emotionally ready to begin dating. You’ll be self-confident and aware of not only who you are, but they type of person who will best enrich your life.

And, best of all, you won’t waste your time dating people who simply aren’t right for you because you’re feeling drawn to be in another relationship. You’ll be your best self and able to choose a relationship with a partner who is his/her best self too.

 

For more help with managing relationship anxiety, check out my new book, Hack Your Anxiety, register for my free mini-ecourse by signing up for book bonuses here, or check-out my anxiety and relationships blogs.  

Alicia H. Clark, PsyD

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