There are other truly amazing reasons to date besides getting hitched again.
I can’t tell you how many people (especially men) I’ve talked to over the years who begin dating after divorce for the sole purpose of finding “the one.” You know, the person who really will love them for the rest of their lives (unlike their ex who said they would, but didn’t).
The problem is that when recently divorced people approach dating from this perspective they’re setting themselves up for another heartbreak. (Yes, this is the voice of personal experience and of observation.) And, no, it’s not 100% true all of the time, but it’s more true than not.
The reason why starting to date with the goal of finding the perfect person for you is so problematic is because you’re probably not completely you yet.
A bad marriage and divorce takes a toll on you. Over the years you adapted to the situation. And by adapting you’ve probably given up little pieces of yourself here and there.
On top of that most divorces are incredibly painful to go through. Because of the pain, it’s natural to gravitate to people who are caring and kind without much regard for the rest of their personality.
Finally, when your purpose for dating is just to find your next Mr./Mrs. you’re short-changing yourself. You’re not rediscovering your innate strength to stand on your own two feet and you’re allowing yourself to become (remain?) co-dependent.
If dating after divorce isn’t just about finding the perfect person for you, why bother dating?
None of this means you shouldn’t date (when you’re ready). It just means you need a different perspective.
Here are four different reasons to date besides finding “the one”:
- To Have Fun
Getting divorced sucks. There’s nothing fun about the process of divvying stuff up, ripping apart your family and crash courses in both family law and finance. Oh and then there’s the whole part about feeling like crap.
Going out and having fun with people who find you attractive is a terrific reason to date!
- To Interact With Another Adult
For a lot of people parenting and work consume their lives post-divorce. And that means you’re surrounded by people who need something from you which is especially draining.
Getting out and conversing with another adult who finds you attractive is another wonderful reason to date.
- To Have Your Sexual Needs Met
Look I know you’ve got the whole self-gratification thing down and it works – especially in a pinch. But seriously, you and I both know it’s not nearly as much fun as having sex with someone. And so, yeah, dating to find sexual partners (and practice safe sex) really works as another reason to date.
- To Learn About Yourself
So I saved this reason for last because it’s actually the most fulfilling – long-term. I’ve met very, very few people who are 100% themselves before, during and after divorce. Most of us need a bit of time to rediscover who we really are after we shed all of the habits of thought and behavior we’ve developed as we tried to deal with the marriage and divorce.
So dating gives you an amazing opportunity to explore things about you. For instance, you’ll have a chance to learn what you do and don’t like about the various people you meet. You’ll also learn about what you do and don’t like about your own behavior when you’re spending time with all these people.
The real bonus here is that by allowing yourself the chance to interact with different people you’ll get more clear about who really will be the perfect partner for you when you are finally ready to settle down.
Hopefully, these other reasons to date are at least as exciting to you as finding the perfect partner. As you look at this list I wish for you to see that none of the items on it preclude finding “the one.” In fact, you could argue that they’re all part of it. The thing is that if you allow yourself to ease up on the drive to find the perfect partner now, you’ll have a better shot at find them when you’re truly ready.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who want to create a great life for themselves post-divorce. You can join my anonymous newsletter list for free weekly advice or schedule a FREE 30-minute conversation with me directly in my Time Trade calendar.
(H3) Looking for more support and ideas for healing from divorce? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Life After Divorce.
This article originally appeared at DivorceForce.