Use these 5 signs to confidently know if you’re ready to start dating again.
How will I know when I’m ready to start dating after divorce? This question is one nearly everyone who divorces eventually asks.
And coming up with an answer to it is complicated by the fact that this question (hopefully) brings up other questions. Is there a difference between dating and a hook up? Where can I find someone to date? What is dating like today? How will my dating impact my kids? And on and on.
Divorce is tumultuous and frightening so it’s normal to have a bunch of questions as you start moving on with your life by deciding if you’re ready to start going out again after divorce.
As confusing and complicated as it is when you first start contemplating whether you’re ready to begin dating after divorce, there are 5 signs you’re ready to get back out there.
- You love yourself. Divorce takes a huge toll on your self-esteem. You start to question whether you’re lovable not only by others, but by yourself too. By being able to truly love and care for yourself before you start dating after divorce, you’ll know you’re ready to get back out there because you’re not looking for someone else to make you feel whole again.
- You understand your role in the end of your marriage. This is important of two reasons. When you’re clear about how you contributed to the end of your marriage, you’re able to carry on conversations about more than the end of your marriage. It also means that you’re less likely to repeat the behavior which will save you a bunch of heartache.
- You know why you want to start dating. When you’ve got clarity about why you’re choosing to get back out there, you’re able to make smart decisions about who you go out with. If you’re not clear about it, you’re setting yourself up to be blown about by the whims of others which just adds more chaos to the mix as you’re getting your life back on track.
- You know the difference between dating and being in a relationship. It’s extremely difficult to avoid falling into a new relationship when you start dating after the end of your marriage. (Although that doesn’t mean it’s always a bad thing.) An idea to consider is dating 3 people at a time so you don’t fall into another relationship before you’re ready.
- You are ready to have fun. Dating after divorce is awkward. So, approach it from the standpoint of having fun and learning more about you and what you do and don’t like about being around all kinds of different people.
This list of 5 signs might seem daunting to you. If it does, you’ve got a little more healing to do before you’re ready to get back out there. And that’s OK. Be patient with yourself as you continue getting over your divorce and be willing to ask for support to help you finish your healing.
Maybe you’re good with a couple of the items, but there are a couple of them where you’re just not quite there yet. The thing to remember is that you’ve already made some great progress in creating a great life for yourself and that you’ve got just a little more progress to make.
But if you read through the list and know that you meet each of the criteria, then you’re ready to start exploring a new and exciting phase of your life!
Looking for more advice about moving on after divorce? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Life After Divorce.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are looking for advice in moving on after divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re ready to take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.
Yes, feeling confident is possible as you embark on your adventures dating post-divorce.
Dating after divorce is both exhilarating and frightening!
One the one hand, the thought of having someone find you attractive and interesting again can make you positively giddy.
On the other hand, the thought of putting yourself out there and kissing a lot of toads along the way is enough to make anyone think more than once about dating after divorce.
What if you could position your foray back into the dating world as something you were doing with confidence? What if you could look at whomever you go out with from the standpoint of whether you liked them without worrying about what they think of you?
I know I would have been pretty excited to have started dating post-divorce from that point of view instead of as the unconfident person that I was. My initial focus on dating after divorce was all about pleasing the people who asked me out instead of just being me and evaluating whether I liked them. (And, yes, that did get me into some trouble.)
Choosing to begin dating after divorce is a big step.
It’s natural to feel at least a bit tentative about getting back out there. But it’s also possible to start dating after divorce confidently.
Here are 11 tips to help you boost your confidence when it comes to post-divorce dating:
- Have fun and don’t take any one date too seriously. At this point in your life, you’ve had enough drama. It’s time to kick back and have a little (or a lot) of fun being social and meeting all kinds of people.
- Treat yourself, your date and everyone with whom you come in contact with respect. Respect is one of those qualities that every truly confident person has. And the bonus is that by demonstrating respect in all of your interactions (even when you’re not on a date) you will cause others to automatically treat you respectfully too.
- Follow the platinum rule to make others feel comfortable. You’ve heard of the golden rule – treat others as you want them to treat you. The thing is the golden rule assumes we all have the same way of experiencing life (which isn’t the best assumption these days). By treating your dates as they want you’ll be giving yourself the gift of evaluating how much effort a relationship with them might be.
- Ditch the small talk – create connection will allow you to truly evaluate whether you want to see your companion again. You’ll never learn anything about the people you go out with by talking about the weather. Talk about things that let you see who they are and what they think.
- Focus on your date – not on yourself. Trust that you’re great (yes, you really are)! If you become overly self-conscious, you won’t be authentic and will prevent yourself from really enjoying yourself (and probably do the same to your date).
- Don’t try too hard. You don’t have to sell yourself. Yes, dating does take some effort, but if you’re doing all the work to make your date feel comfortable or if you’re spending the majority of the time trying to impress them, then they’re definitely not the right person for you.
- Recognize the difference between fact and opinion. One of the topics that will naturally come up in conversation when you’re dating after divorce is “Why did your marriage end?” Everyone fills their divorce story with lots of opinions. Confident people can separate facts from the opinions and not get overly caught up in either their own or their companion’s drama during the storytelling.
- Be authentic. You really are enough just as you are.
- Smile. If you want your companion to find you irresistible, smile because they’ll start smiling too. And when you’re both smiling it’s a whole lot easier to have fun.
- Make an effort to look your best. Appearing well-groomed and wearing current styles will boost your confidence for making a great first impression on each and every person you meet.
- Be enthusiastic about your life. Nothing exudes confidence more than knowing that you’ve got a great life and that your choice to begin dating after divorce is all about meeting new people (as opposed to dating because you’re lonely or because you think it’s about time you did). And, oh yeah, dating’s also about having fun.
These 11 tips may sound like a lot, but when you really think about them they’ll be easy to accomplish when you’re truly ready to begin dating after divorce.
So if they still seem like too much to handle after you’ve spent some time thinking about them, you’re not quite ready to get back out there. And that’s totally OK. In fact, it’s really important information to have. Just spend a little more time healing and soon you’ll be ready to start dating post-divorce too.
Looking for more support and ideas for feeling better after your divorce? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Life After Divorce.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are divorced and ready to get on with their lives. You can join my anonymous newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re ready to take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.
Dating after divorce should be fun! Follow these tips to make sure it is.
Once your divorce is inevitable, you’re probably going to start thinking about the possibility of another relationship. And these thoughts will stir up all kinds of emotions – fear, disbelief, curiosity, confusion, frustration, intimidation and excitement – as you progress through making your divorce final.
Dating after divorce is way different than dating was before you got married.
So before you run full tilt to embrace dating as part of your life after divorce, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a few things in order.
- Make sure you’re ready to date. You’re probably not ready to date if you’re not healed from your divorce. It’s really hard to have a good time dating if you still cry when you tell the story of your breakup because it will come up – usually on the first date.Being healed from your divorce also means that you understand why your marriage failed and your part in it. (Yeah, it really does take two for a relationship to bust. Sure your part may just be that you chose to marry your ex, but you gotta take some responsibility for it.)
And finally, being over your divorce means you can talk about something else besides your divorce or your ex or your child support or … well, I’m sure you get the idea. Being ready to date means that you’ve spent some time creating a new post-divorce life that you are enjoying.
- Decide what your dating goal is. Not everyone dates for the same reason. Maybe your goal is hooking up, validating that you’re desirable, companionship, finding a relationship, or searching for your real soul mate.Although it is possible to pursue more than one goal at a time, you’ll have the best luck if you can narrow it down. Each of these goals require a different type and quality of focus.
I mean really, if you’re looking for a hook up you probably won’t be that picky about who you go out with. But if you’re looking for the next love of your life you’re going to look for someone who’s able to make more of a commitment. You follow me?
- Determine the type of people you’d like to date. Yes, this does follow closely with the idea of deciding what your dating goal is, but it’s also more than that.After divorce (or even a bad breakup) most people approach dating with their ex in mind. Either they accept that their ex is their type or they decide they want nothing to do with anyone who reminds them in any way of their ex.
The truth is that since you’re a different person from the one that married your ex, chances are you don’t really know who’s going to be the right type of person for you now.
So, start off by making a list of desirable qualities and deal-breaker qualities. Doing this exercise will help you both narrow down the field and expand it too because you won’t be a slave to thinking you’re only attracted to a certain type.
- Love yourself. OK, you can make the silly sexual jokes about “loving yourself,” but that’s not what I’m talking about here. Well, not completely.The last thing you want to do when you’re dating is appear desperate. Desperation is a HUGE turnoff.
So do what you need to do to feel good about you and your post-divorce life. If that means going to the gym and getting fit, do it. If it means getting a makeover, do it. If it means masturbating, do it.
Confidence is attractive. Personal style is attractive. Knowing that you’re a wonderful person is attractive. And attractive is definitely what you’re going for when you’re dating (and when you want to keep a relationship vibrant).
- Be patient. Unless hook ups are your only dating goal, then patience is a virtue. Rushing things will only get you more heartache. (Yes, mine is the voice of heartbroken experience.) You also don’t want to settle for someone just because you’re tired of being alone.Take your time choosing who you’ll spend your time with. Your time is valuable. You love and respect yourself too much to waste it on people who don’t deserve you.
- Date 2-3 people at the same time. I know this may sound funny, but it goes hand-in-hand with the idea of being patient. You aren’t going to know everything about someone immediately and it’s really helpful to have others to compare and contrast them with.It takes time (and Google) to learn about who you’re dating. You’re going to want to ask lots of questions. You’re also going to answer a lot of questions and the more honest you can be the better off you’ll be able to evaluate whether or not you want to continue seeing someone.
- Decide to have fun. Dating should be fun! Be flirtatious, laugh and smile a lot. Stay positive and look at dating as a great big adventure.But if it starts to feel like work or begins to take up too much of your time, then you need to step back.
Reevaluate the place that dating has in your life and make sure you’re spending the time you need on the rest of your life – working, parenting, taking care of your home, doing self-care, and spending time with your friends.
Look, I know there’s a lot here and you’ll probably ignore at least some of these tips. (I know I did when I started dating after divorce. I threw all of them out of the window and wound up having my heart and self-esteem crushed – again – in my first attempt at dating.)
But just because your post-divorce dating starts off a bit bumpy doesn’t mean you should give it up and decide to be celibate for the rest of your life. (Although, if that truly works for you, go for it!)
When I finally got dating after divorce right, I was looking at it as a series of experiments. Each guy I agreed to meet was a new experiment. Sometimes things clicked and I’d agree to go out with him again, but most of the time they didn’t.
And when they didn’t, I didn’t see him again because he definitely wasn’t right for me and we didn’t need to waste any more time hoping things would change.
Dating is just you experimenting and testing both yourself and each person you go out with. Sometimes you’ll have a lot of fun. Sometimes you’ll be ready for the date to end before you’ve finished saying “Hi.” Regardless, dating can be an incredibly enriching (and fabulous) part of your life after divorce.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are wondering about dating (and life in general) after divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re ready to take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.
Take this quick quiz and you’ll know if you’re ready to dive into dating.
Everybody is different and no one answer will be right for everyone.
This five-question quiz will let you know if you’re ready to start dating again or not.
- Do you want to date because your ex is?
This is what I call the “me too” reason to start dating. It is not a good reason.
Just because your ex has chosen to move on doesn’t mean you’re ready, too. Everybody heals and gets over a past relationship at a different rate.
Allow yourself the time you need to feel more like you before you start dating again.
- Can you talk about anything else besides your breakup?
If you find most of your conversations revolve around your breakup, your ex or how much you miss being in a relationship, then you are not ready to date. You are still grieving the loss of your relationship.
Your friends, family and divorce professionals are the best people to help you through your grief – not some person you just met on Match.com.
“It’s better to make sure you are past your breakup before you start dating.”
- Dating and relationships: Do you know the difference?
After being in a long-term relationship, most of us forget what dating is like.
We are so used to being in a relationship that we jump into another relationship instead of dating, and we’re usually sorry we did so.
So, what is dating?
Dating is spending time with different people to learn what you do and don’t like about different personalities, experiences and yourself when you’re hanging out with different people.
Dating is all about having fun and learning more about you.
- Are you feeling desperate about needing to date?
If you answered yes to this question, you already know you are not ready to start dating.
One of the biggest struggles people have when their relationship ends is rebuilding their self-esteem. Self-esteem is something that can’t be improved by having someone else tell you how wonderful you are.
You have to believe in yourself before you believe what someone you met on PlentyOfFish.com says about you.
- Do you feel guilty when you think about dating?
When we are in a relationship, most of us have a deep sense of loyalty to our partner that becomes a habit – a habit in thought and behavior.
It can be tough to break a habit of many years. Just ask anyone who has quit smoking!
If you have answered no to questions one, four and five and yes to questions two and three, you are definitely ready to start dating again!
If you didn’t get a score that clears you for dating just yet, that is OK.
We all heal from our relationships at different rates, and it’s much better to make sure you are past the worst of your breakup before you get out there and start dating again.
So, how did you do on the quiz? Are you ready to start dating again?
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re ready to take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.
This article originally appeared on DatingAdvice.com.
You’ve probably heard recommendations from other experts about how long you need to wait after divorce before you start dating. These other experts recommend that you wait anywhere from just 1 year to 1 year for every 4 years you were married.
I disagree with these one-size-fits-all recommendations. I believe that the only requirement for you to be able to successfully date after divorce is that you’ve finished your time in the Divorce Pits. The Divorce Pits are where you experience the most painful feelings of divorce – grief, anger, guilt and rejection.
I hope you can agree with me that you wouldn’t want to date someone consumed with the Divorce Pits. So, if you’re consumed with them, you’re probably not going to find someone who wants to date you either. (You can find out if you’re still in the Divorce Pits by taking the assessment here.)
Once you’re out of the Pits, you’re cleared to date. There are all kinds of ways you can meet people to date and I’ll save a discussion of that for some other time. The point I want to get to here is that your dating should be helping you to determine what you do and don’t like about yourself and others in a relationship. There are all kinds of things that people do and don’t want in a relationship, but the one thing that EVERYONE WANTS is to be able to trust their partner.
Take It Slowly When You’re Re-Learning How To Trust After Divorce
For many of us post-divorce, our ability to trust another isn’t quite working ideally. That’s why I recommend you build your trust in yourself first (read more here), then build your trust in friendships (read more here), before trusting someone in a committed relationship. The question I always get from my clients about this is how do I know if I can trust someone?
You can feel pretty confident about trusting someone in a committed relationship by using 8 different keys. These keys are things that you need to examine both in the other person and in your ability to give to them.
We’ll start with the first four keys today and save the other four for next week’s article. (Read part 2.)
The first 4 keys to trust in a post-divorce relationship are
- Clarity – Clarity refers to the ability you and your partner have communicating with each other AND in the clarity you each have individually about being in the relationship. Are you both open and clear about what you want from the relationship? Are you both clear about what needs you’d like to have the other meet? Are you both clear about what you are and are not willing to do in the relationship? The important point about each of these questions is that you’re clear individually without any pressure from the other person or fear of losing the relationship and that you’re able to clearly communicate this to each other. (You should also be aware that after divorce we all change a lot, so just because you’re clear about what you want today, next month, next quarter, next year, your needs of the relationship may change and you both need to be willing to continue being clear for the duration of the relationship.)
- Compassion – Compassion refers to the ability you’ve each got to care for the other. Compassion in a healthy relationship MUST be two-way. There are times when one partner may need more compassion than another, but if the flow of compassion is only one-way, the relationship isn’t conducive to building the level of trust necessary for a long-term committed relationship.
- Character – Character is who you each are as individuals and in the relationship. It’s not unusual for people to behave one way in front of others and another way in the privacy of their relationship. If you find that you’re not behaving like yourself in a relationship, that’s not a healthy relationship for you. If you find that you don’t care for the way the person you’re dating regularly behaves, then they’re not the right person for you.
- Competency – Competency can sound like a funny criterion for trust in a dating or love relationship, but it’s really important. Would you want to be in a relationship with someone who is simply incapable of meeting your needs of the relationship? I doubt it. That’s why I believe it’s critical that you get some clarity on what you want in a relationship and what you’re willing to give to a relationship. Once you know that, you’ll have an idea of whether or not you’ve both got the competency to be in a relationship together.
I know that this is only half of the list, but it’s a lot of information! These aren’t necessarily simple keys. They require careful thought and a deep awareness of your feelings. But armed with these first keys, you’ve got a great starting point for figuring out if the person or people you’re dating are right for you to enter into a deeper relationship with.
Your Assignment For Learning How To Trust Someone Again:
Get clear about what you want in your post-divorce relationships. You might be looking for your next great love or you might be looking for someone to hang out with and just have fun. It’s important that you get clear about what you want so you’ll be able to know if dating someone is in your best interest or not. AND so that you’ll be able to have clarity telling the other person what you want.
How might you determine if the other person is compassionate? In my experience, this is one of those keys that takes time to evaluate. You might be able to tell enough about someone’s lack of compassion quickly. However, if it’s not glaringly obvious that the other person isn’t compassionate, then seeing how you both act in stressful situations is probably the quickest way to determine your level of compassion for yourselves and each other.
If you’re in a relationship with someone, do you like who you are when you’re with them? For most of us who divorced, when we take an honest look back at our marriage we can usually find something about ourselves in the marriage that we’ve since changed or are in the process of changing. There was something about what our marriage had become that caused us to be less than ourselves. It’s so very important that you not enter into another relationship that might cause you to not appreciate yourself 100%. So, if you don’t like whom you are when you’re with someone, it’s time to end that relationship. If you do like who you are when you’re with someone, the relationship just might be working and you might be closer to building trust.
Is the person you’re in relationship with capable of meeting your needs? Are you capable of meeting theirs? If your answer is “yes” to both questions, you’ve got another key for building trust in this relationship. If not, then this relationship probably isn’t in your best interest to continue for long.
Don’t worry; you don’t have to go through this alone. I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor. I’ve been divorced and I know what you’re going through. My specialty is helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress, pain and uncertainty of divorce. You can join my anonymous newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.
If you’re looking for more help with putting together your post-divorce life, you’ll want to read more at Life After Divorce.
Dating after divorce can be confusing. After all, it’s probably been a while since you last dated and things have CHANGED since then.
One of the biggest changes in dating over the last 10-15 years is the number of people who use online dating services. Did you know there are even websites dedicated to letting you know who the top online dating services are? These services are a BIG business and it’s OK to use them. When my clients decide to start dating, most of them use an online dating service or two. Heck I even used one to meet my 2nd (and current) husband.
Online dating, just like any other kind of dating, is terrific IF you’re aware of these three pitfalls.
The first pitfall is lack of safety. I’ve heard stories from both men and women about some positively scary situations they found themselves in when they met a date. Here are some key things you can do to be a bit safer when you date online:
When you’re using an online dating service, be careful of your identity. Don’t use your full name on your profile that’s open to the public.
Ask the other person for their number, don’t freely give yours away. It’s OK to block your number and make your first call(s) anonymously.
For heaven’s sake, DON’T give someone you’ve never met your address to come pick you up. When you’re ready to meet someone, arrange to meet them someplace public. Park someplace where there are lots of others coming and going. It’s also a good idea to let someone know someone know where you are going to be meeting your date and have them call if they haven’t heard from you in a couple of hours.
The second pitfall is looking for a spouse instead of learning to date. One of the most common things I see people do when they’re starting to date again is to focus on finding a spouse instead of focusing on dating. There’s a big difference between the two!
When you focus on finding a spouse, going out becomes a lot more serious, a lot more intense. You might even start to worry about how many dates you go on before you decide if you want to be serious with this person. Sometimes you don’t go out with more than one person at a time because you want to make sure you give the current person the benefit of the doubt.
When you’re focused on dating, the whole thing is a bit more casual. There’s less stress and pressure to impress and more emphasis on figuring out whether or not you’re enjoying yourself. Focusing on dating is a great way to learn what you do and don’t like about others and yourself when you’re around them. This knowledge will allow you to move on when it’s right for you. One important point here is that you need to be up-front with the people you’re dating to let them know where you’re coming from and so they don’t get the wrong idea about your intentions.
The third pitfall is thinking you must respond and/or date everyone who contacts you. You have no responsibility to the people who reach out to you. You don’t have to respond to everyone and you definitely don’t have to go out with all of them either. You deserve to be picky about who you spend your time on and with. Your time and how you spend it is how you create your life, so be picky about whom you spend time with!
I want you to think of dating as cultivating friends and learning about yourself. Most people aren’t ready to get into another serious relationship right after they get divorced. They need some time to rediscover themselves and figure out what they do and don’t like about other people. That means going out with other people to have fun.
Dating is supposed to be fun and using the online services can be a great way to meet some amazing people. Just be sure to avoid the pitfalls!
Your Online Dating Assignment:
Do some research. There really are a lot of sites out there to help you meet people to date. Each site has its own personality. Check out a few and decide which site or sites best fit you.
Be open to learning about yourself. The dating experience should be fun and put you and your date in new situations that will allow you both to learn about yourselves and each other. Successful dating requires that you be ready to learn stuff about yourself without the expectation that you or your date be perfect.
Are you ready to date? OK, this probably should have been the first step of the assignment, but I saved it to last so you’d be sure to see it. There’s no rule about when you’re ready to date, but generally, you want to be through the worst of the emotional part of your divorce. If you’re curious to know where you are on the continuum of being through with the emotional part of your divorce you need to check out the Fisher Divorce Adjustment Scale (FDAS) at http://drkarenfinn.com/work-with-me/how-long-does-it-take-to-recover-from-divorce
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.