Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dating After Divorce

I have been divorced for 3 months and wonder when it will be time for me to jump back into the dating scene. What do you think?

Good for you at thinking about this and asking this question out loud. Too many people believe that the best way to survive the breakup of a marriage is in the arms of another. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It is very important to grieve the loss of the relationship and, even more importantly, the hopes and dreams for what could and might have been. It takes a lot of courage to grieve the losses because there is nothing about it that feels good and struggling through it as a single person can be very hard; however, the distraction of a new romance robs the opportunity for developing maturity, self-understanding and growth.

There does come a time when it is a good idea to think about venturing forth into places where you might meet another romantic partner .. “climbing back on the horse” as one might say.

Some of the signals that might indicate you are ready to begin dating will be clear and completed. Others will definitely be fluid, a work in progress. Here are some of our ideas of things to think, write and talk about.

What was my contribution to the end of the marriage/relationship? What have I learned about myself, in addition to a possible defective “picker”, that I know that I need to do differently? Figure out some of the answers to these questions as a beginning to success in your next relationship with the right person.

Am I able to go days without crying or being excessively angry at my former partner’s past behavior? Can I also experience him or her now and have normal but not excessive emotional reactions. Not only must you be able to heal from the past, you also must be able to find ways to be more detached and less emotionally accessible, with either positive or negative emotions, to your former spouse in order to finish the divorce process and be able to be a healthy partner in a new relationship.

Have I been able to get my finances and career in a healthy place or have a plan to do so and definitely taking steps in the right direction? It is never a good idea to begin a relationship from a place of “need” rather than strength. You want to be able to stand on your own two feet so that you can enter any relationship on solid footing.

For those with children: Can I find ways to date without disrupting their lives too much and am I able to be proactive enough to go slowly with any romance and not involve my children with my dates. Dating requires time and energy. Make sure that you have the resources and energy to devote time to your children while pursuing other relationships. Above all, do not introduce your children to your dates unless the relationship has developed into one that seems to have the potential to be significant and last for some time.

Have I developed a life of my own as a single person? Make sure that you can be comfortable on your own (even though you may wish that you had a partner). Other people cannot really make someone happy. Each person has to learn to do that for him or herself.

Have I done some thinking about what I want in a new partner? It is important to define what you are looking for so that you have some standards about those you want to spend time with and with whom you want to explore a relationship. Dating is not about finding someone who will pick you … but rather finding someone who fits your needs.

These are some of our ideas. What are your thoughts and experiences?

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