What You Need to Know About Dating After Divorce
Dating isn't easy, but it can be even harder after divorce because it brings its own set of challenges.
When a relationship like a marriage ends, you’re not yourself. You need time to rebuild and recover.
But how much time do you need?
How do you date someone now that you have children?
What if you make all the same mistakes again?
And in the age of dating apps and breaking up by text message, what are the new commandments of dating?
Here are some dos and don’ts for dating after divorce
Don’t Start Before You Are Ready
Take the time to heal. There is no perfect answer as to when you should start dating again, but usually, it is best to wait at least a year after your divorce. Use this time to go out and have fun with friends, learn a new skill, go away for a week.
Be sure to get closure.
Use this time to work on yourself and figure out what went wrong with your relationship. Get to the point where you know what you want from a partner and what you don’t.
Do you know your role in the marriage’s demise? Have you made as much peace as possible the divorce and your ex? Don’t skip counseling or support group sessions. They’ll help in many ways--especially when it comes to future relationships.
Make sure that your past is really in the past. That way, you won’t run the risk of picking the wrong types of people over and over again.
Don’t Date for the Wrong Reasons
If you start dating again because you think that you should, or because your friends and family have been bugging you to, don’t. Date because you want to, not because you think you have to.
You are not your relationship status. You don’t want to date because dating makes you feel secure, or you think that you have to be part of a couple or simply because you don’t want to be alone.
Jumping into a relationship for the sake of being in a relationship or feel complete is the wrong reason to date. The desire to be in a relationship for the sake of being in a relationship may even be why your marriage didn’t last.
If you are going to put yourself out there to start a new relationship be fair to yourself and others and make sure that you are dating for the right reasons, or dating will be a disaster.
Do Focus on Character More Than Chemistry
We all love when we feel chemistry with someone--the sweaty palms, the butterflies in your stomach--but too many of us rely on chemistry to tell us who to date.
A lot of people will decide early on that there’s no chemistry, and as a result, they often give up on the relationship.
First, ask yourself if the person you’re with has the qualities you’d want in a long-term partner.
Do you have lots in common with this person? Or is the physical attraction blinding you to how wrong you are for each other?
Search for a partner with complementary values and be willing to let attraction and chemistry a chance to develop.
Put chemistry on the backburner and focus on how your date behaves; it may be a cliche, but actions do speak louder than words -- or looks, or income.
Chemistry and attraction change and often disappear completely. This may be even one of the reasons you are no longer married. Keep that in mind.
Don’t Introduce Every Date to Your Kids
Unless you've been together for a long time (at least six months), you shouldn't let your children meet the people that you're dating.
If you're sharing custody with your ex, find a time to go out when the kids can stay with them, or if you're in a pinch, hire a babysitter instead.
Children can easily form attachments to your romantic partners before it is good for them to do so, causing them to worry that the new partner may be replacing their other parent or that you somehow don't love them as much.
Kids may even want you to quickly marry someone, so they can be part of a “normal” traditional family unit.
Be sure to explain to your child the differences between casual dating, long-term relationships and getting married. A child should understand that not all dating and friendships automatically end in marriage.
Children learn through example, especially from their parents. As you start to develop a romantic relationship with someone new, don't forget that your child is learning about dating and intimacy by observing you. Y
You and your behavior is modeling for your kids and setting standards, even if they aren’t old enough to date yet.
Of course, you're allowed to have a life, even a sex life -- just not at your child's expense.
When school-age children are exposed to these new relationships, you need to be clear with them about your feelings as well as the differences between an adult relationship and one between adolescents.
When discussing an intimate relationship with your child, it's important that they feel open to expressing their feelings, whether good or bad and making sure that they feeling comfortable with asking any questions about your new partner and how you act around one another.
Open age-appropriate communication during the development of a sexual relationship with a close friend will allow your child to experience a new level of awareness about grown-up behavior. But direct exposure to frank sexual conduct is not a good idea.
Things Are Different
A lot has changed in the dating scene over the past decade or so, with completely new methods of dating and new rules about when and where you can do it as well.
Online dating used to be a last resort, but in recent years, it's become a great way to meet people looking for a little romance (or just a quick hookup). Not only does it save time, but it can help you weed out people who you don't share interests with or don't align in political or religious beliefs.
If you are looking for a dating relationship, it's best to go with a service like eHarmony, Match or OkCupid. Apps like Tinder tend to have a reputation as something used for casual sex.
Dates don't have to be limited to the weekend. We all lead busy lives these days, so people are a lot more open to scheduling dates for whenever time permits.
Getting together on a weeknight or for a casual coffee shop lunch doesn't make the date any less important. In some ways, these situations are even better because they take some of the pressure of a more "formal" and traditional date.
Do Have a Sense of Humor
Getting to know new people isn't always fun. It's work. And it requires effort on your part. As your divorce may have taught you the hard way, things don't always go as planned.
Dating after divorce can be fraught with issues, but only if you let it. A sense of humor will help you get through them. A sense of humor will help you get through bad dates--and they will happen--and not make you bitter or cynical.
Mind Your Manners
Dating may have changed, but manners should remain constant.
Today, we often text people more than we talk with them. Texting is okay for brief conversations, like letting your date know if you're running late, but it shouldn't replace all communication, especially towards the beginning of a relationship when you're trying to make a good impression.
If a potential partner is texting you too much, you could suggest that they pick up the phone and talk to you instead. The best way to get to know someone is by talking over the phone, or better yet, in person.
While communicating by text has taken the place of over the phone or even face-to-face communication, the practice of ignoring texts and calls from people who you no longer want a relationship with (called ghosting) has become more common over the years.
While you don't have to go on a second or third date with someone you're not interested in, have the decency to the person that rather than ignore them completely.
Another thing to remember is that talk of your ex is off-limits.
It's tempting to go there, especially if you're both dating after being divorced. But talking about your ex relays the message to your date that you are more interested in your prior relationship than seeking a new one.
Conversation on a date is used to get to know the other person, it's rude to spend the entire time talking about or complaining about your ex. Use your dating time to find common ground with the person your with.
If you find yourself constantly talking about your ex when you're on dates, you may want to consider whether you are ready to date or not.
Beginning a new romance is always a little frightening, especially if you were in a long relationship before, but once you've successfully gotten out of your comfort zone, you could be ready to date.
Getting back into the dating scene can be challenging, but it is worthwhile.
You are already equipped with all you need to make great things happen in your brand new life, and dating after divorce can be one of them.
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