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Divorced, But Are You Ready To Start Dating Again?
There are no two ways about it, divorce can be rough. Even the couples who mutually decide a marriage is over may still find the need to reconstruct parts of their lives. For most couples though divorce isn’t a mutually agreed-on idea, at least not at first. Often both spouses are left feeling some sadness over the end of a relationship they once thought would last forever.
Regardless of the how and why a marriage ends, most divorced people eventually move on to date and marry other people. How do you know when you’re ready to start dating again after a divorce?
If you’re like most divorced people, you’ve probably already had at least one friend or family member ask about your dating life. Everyone seems to want to give advice about getting back out there and not giving up on love. It’s not always easy to get back into dating. It takes time to rebuild your life after divorce.
It can take some time to tie up loose ends and you may have to communicate regularly with your ex-spouse in the beginning to sort out new living arrangements, bills, income taxes and child care. Some people may experience pressure from family or friends not to start dating again soon after a divorce. Divorce, like any breakup, is emotionally difficult and it takes time to heal.
Some mental health professionals and dating experts like to put a precise time limit on when it’s okay to consider dating again post-divorce. The truth is, it matters less how long you’ve been divorced and more how much progress you’ve made personally.
One question you might want to ask yourself before you begin to date again is whether or not you are over your ex. It’s normal to think about your ex sometimes, anything from a shared interest or a moment with your children can bring up thoughts of your ex. What you need to consider carefully is how those thoughts make you feel.
If you’re bitter about your ex then the reaction might be to tell yourself you don’t love them and throw yourself into another relationship as quickly as possible. Harboring deep resentment and anger towards an ex means you’re not fully over the relationship. This is not to say it means you want them back, but it could mean you haven’t fully moved on. On the other hand if you know, or even suspect, that you are still in love with your ex-spouse then it is probably not the right time to start a relationship with someone else. Rather than helping you get over your spouse, you will end up hurting yourself and the other person unnecessarily.
So how do you know you are really over your ex? When you have neutral feelings towards your spouse then it is a good time to start dating again. It’s normal to think fondly of an ex-spouse, especially if the divorce was mutual. There’s a difference, however, between having fond memories and longing. Neutral means you’re over both anger and longing and ready to truly move on with your life.
Another great question to ask yourself is, do you know what you want in a partner? Answering this question can get trickier than ever after divorce. After all, you may have married someone whom you thought was your ideal partner, only to find out that this wasn’t the case. Many divorced men and women try to overcorrect and find someone who is the complete opposite of their ex. Others might be on the lookout for someone exactly like their ex-spouse, especially if they weren’t the initiator of the divorce. Both of these ideas can lead to mistakes.
You should know what you want and what you don’t want in a partner. You should also take some time to decide what your deal breakers are. Once you know, stick to them. Many divorces come from couples who knew beforehand they had fundamental differences, but at least one spouse felt that marriage would reconcile their spouse to their way of thinking.
Figuring out what you really want and need in a partner is part of growing into a mature and healthy adult. It can take decades to do so, so don’t be hard on yourself if your first try wasn’t a success. Think carefully about what is most important to you in life. What are your dreams and goals for the future? What are your values and beliefs? What characteristics are you unable to accept in another person? Once you have a solid idea of what you want in your next partner, then you are ready to begin looking for that person.
Lastly, do you feel confident and excited about dating again? Friends and family, especially those who are in relationships themselves or are married and have children, will try to convince you to date again, whether you’re really ready or not. But until you feel confident and excited about dating again, it’s too soon.
However, if you feel like you’re just going through the motions, then it may be too soon for you to be dating again also. If you’re struggling with guilt that it’s too soon or you’re enjoying being single and regaining some lost independence, then you may want to hold off on entering the dating scene for a while more.
In the end, you’re the only one who can say if you’re ready to begin dating again post-divorce. If you feel like you’re being pushed, either by well-meaning friends or family, then odds are you simply need more time. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Once you’ve allowed yourself to get over the end of your marriage, you know what it is you want and need in a partner and you feel excited about the idea of meeting someone new, then these are indicators that you just may be ready to date again.
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