How to know when to begin dating after divorce or a breakup seems oh-so-confusing! Going on that first date after (or during) your divorce is going to be a combination of excitement and nerves. Here it’s assumed you haven’t been on a date in a long time and you’re out of practice. But that you want to date or you’re horny, and unsure of new people despite the excitement of it all. Knowing when to begin dating after divorce or a breakup is a valid question to ask and the answers are unique to every person.
Have some fun when you begin dating after divorce!
Dating is all about kindness, consideration, and simply getting to know a new person. And it should be all that and more. There’s no need to date someone after your divorce who can’t open a door for you or is rude to a waiter. That’s basic dating etiquette.
If you’re in the middle of your divorce and still dealing with attorneys and negotiating the parenting plan, having a little social time with someone of the opposite sex who isn’t YELLING at you will be a breath of fresh air. You’ll get to show up being your best, looking your finest, and you’ll find yourself good company to be with. You may even see them again…
If you’ve wrapped up your divorce and you think, “it’s time to find a relationship…” beware: your healing is just beginning.
You don’t know what’s going to happen moving forward. Okay, sure, you like yourself the way you are – (I love that) – but have you shed the fight? Are you over the daily antagonism? Or the feelings of shame? You’re going to want to heal those broken parts before you decide to pair up with someone new. Chances are, if they like you the way you are, you’ll never heal. Those broken parts need to heal so that you can grow (and not have another divorce in your future). Let me explain…
There has to have been a reason for your divorce.
During the separation and for a bit of time after you get your decree, your mind, body, and spirit are in transition. (Let them be in transition.) Think of it as attending your own personal divorce school: You’re starting over. You get to figure out who you are now, so you can be proud of yourself again and get things right.
Take time to ground yourself and connect to some inner work before starting that long-term relationship.
Exhaustion sets in after a long-drawn-out fight. You may be reworking your relationships with your kids and setting up a new home. These things take real time. A new relationship also requires real time and energy. The energy that you don’t really have.
Should you begin dating after divorce, you’ll show up inauthentic. Your dates will see, sleep with, even live with a hologram of who you really are. Not the real you – the real you has been caught up in fighting and wrapping up the past. Instead, you’ll be doing that dating dance showing of the image of you that you want them to see.
If they fall in love with the image of you, it’s harder to show them who you really are.
Or they’ll get tired of dating you. The worse part of getting into a new long-term relationship too fast is that you’ll never be able to figure out why you went through your divorce, to begin with. (And no matter what you think, it’s never just because they had an affair).
If you’re dating a friend who’s been a part of the fight and has been your cheerleader during the entire divorce, that’ll also keep you stuck. The fight now involves at least 3 people… you, your ex, and your new lover. What a mess! How much fun is it to enroll another person in your past drama? This sort of relationship becomes a – sorry – cluster f-ck! After a bit of time, no one would want to be a part of that dynamic and couples like this that stay together, end up even worse off.
You have permission not to rush into a long-term relationship.
A lot of women by and large take a bit longer than men to heal after divorce so for this moment, I’m going to give a pep talk to guys.
Guys, you’re allowed to sloooooooow down! Date and to have fun. You do not need to commit or to move in or to enroll or to propose or to impregnate or to do anything you’re not ready or wanting to do when you become divorced. However, you do have to explain yourself in full sentences because women get confused.
Explain where you are emotionally when you begin dating after divorce.
In full sentences, like this: “I’m only interested in dating. I’m ready to have sex but I do not want a relationship even if I sleep with you.” I assure you – you will have sex, you will marry in the future if you wish. Men or women will like you and you will have someone in your bed, your kitchen or on your arm when you’re good and ready. Women need to understand your intentions.
They also need you healthy. Women need you to shed the anger, the frustration and to know where you’re going. Healthy women need you to be emotionally available. Not just dinner available or weekend away available either.
Women need you healthy enough to make love to them. Not use them to escape your past.
Your healing is for real. Your heart and your mindset and your soul need some TLC. Those dudes who just date and have sex, and vacation or move in with their latest girlfriend, break a lot of hearts! Don’t be a man who says one thing and does another. (Ladies, this is your advice!)
Newly divorced men need understanding and compassion but they’re not emotionally available until they do some healing.
Should they profess their love for you, you’re going to get confused. Because without doing their personal growth work – that very, seemingly, unmanly thing called healing – it’ll be tough for them to be able to make you happy. It would be best to keep yourself prepared and ready for him to bolt. It’s not his fault per se, it’s just the healing time of divorce. And unless you’ve given up on being fulfilled – sexually, romantically fulfilled – you’ll want to help him take it slow! So when it comes to knowing when to begin dating after divorce, it’s true: you can date at any time!
But the best time to date is when you know why your divorce happened to you and to be on the path to your new future!
You have to figure out why your marriage fell apart. What you did to contribute to that breakdown. What you need to do differently going forward so you don’t repeat the patterns. Figure out how you wanted to show up but couldn’t, and how you will show up (no matter what) in the future. Asking yourself, “What does being a good guy or a great woman look like to me?” And make that happen.
No amount of dating or sex is going to help you figure out your inner healing.
You’ll know you’re ready to date after divorce when
- the old habits are gone
- you’re not triggered by your ex
- you’re excited about the morning
- you’ve got new friends
- you’ve shed the excess weight, stuff, baggage, fighting
- you’re curious about doing new things
- you’re interested in learning new things – especially things about new people. (People you have the energy to get to know.)
That’s when you’re ready to really begin dating after divorce. When your fight is over and your new life has begun.
Now I get a lot of push back from people who want rules around dating. I don’t abide across the board by rules except for giving yourself time to heal (whatever that is for you). Your life, your values, your fight are different than others. Everyone has their own healing to do.
Laura Bonarrigo is a Certified Life Coach and a Certified Divorce Coach. Laura’s a writer, public speaker and the founder of The Better Divorce and doingDivorce™ School – online coaching programs for those ready to shed the pain of breakups. For empowering and practical ways to lose the identity of your past, visit www.doingDivorceSchool.com.