Suffering the pain of divorce is never easy, and the separation can lead to real fear of relationships after divorce, a reluctance to go through the effort to find love again is very real. Breakups of all kinds are emotional upheavals, but finding love after divorce can seem like a hard task sometimes. Some people develop a fear of relationships after divorce, others develop an inability to trust anything good. You cannot blame yourself for that.
You are trying to live a life normally after being in a relationship, no matter how short or long. There is comfort in the familiarity of another person in your life, and that has now been deleted in your life. It is running the house again by yourself, child care too when relevant.
There is no rush to get back into the dating game again. It takes time and effort to get your life back to its new normal and you can conserve your energy for that. There is no shame in being that divorced man afraid of a relationship, or the divorced lady who prefers to be alone.
Your heart and mind might now have fresh barriers against love. Happily ever after seems far-fetched and unrealistic when a marriage you thought was going to last forever has crumbled. How will your heart and soul still believe in love?
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Always remember, you have to let yourself heal first before you open up to a new relationship. Do your “inside work” first, understand why an important relationship is now over and what you learnt from it. Be ready to love yourself first before you can start a new relationship. It is not about the convenience of having someone new in your life, you need to be first healed.
Make yourself the first relationship after divorce that you learn to build.
Though it is absolutely normal to be cautious about love the next time around, slipping into hopelessness can only add to the misery. Yes, some can even be terrified to date after divorce, and build so many barriers!
So, let’s take the bull by the horns, and face those 10 real fears of finding love after divorce again. Any or all of these can apply together, and knowing that you are not alone helps too.
1. Being single again, with a growing fear of relationships after divorce
You were a couple not just socially, but in your head too. You went out together, you made friends together, you had a social life together. You had started thinking and looking at everything from the perspective of doing things together. Now you are supposed to put yourself out there again as a single person. The insecurities, loneliness and boredom as well as the fear of rejection is back. The hem and haw over having all the singlehood dilemmas are back.
Just remember, there is no rush. Getting back into a routine, taking care of yourself and learning to love yourself once more is more important. Finding someone new to share life with again can wait for a bit.
2. Loving yourself, before you start a new relationship after a divorce
The first casualty after a major breakup occurs with your self-image, your confidence. Was the other person right? Are you really so unlovable? Could you have done things differently? Was it your fault?
Your self-doubts and your confidence in your future will definitely take a beating. The challenge is whether you will be able to love yourself again. Especially since you were used to having someone by your side to reinforce your own place in the world.
Before you start dating again or go out looking for a new relationship after a divorce, mend yourself first. Self-love should be your first priority. You need to be able to enjoy your own company before you go seeking someone to share it with!
3. Being vulnerable
The fear of being hurt again is one of the biggest hurdles that one needs to overcome after a divorce and a heartbreak.
Vulnerability. The last thing I want you to see in me. The first thing I look for in you
Putting your pieces back together and then opening yourself to the possibility of hurt to someone new takes courage. It takes time and healing, and you need to be sure you are ready for that. And you can also find yourself doubting whether your new love feels as intensely too, as much as doubting if you are still lovable.
Remember Brene Brown’s words after the groundbreaking research on the impact of shame in our lives that lead to the Ted Talk
“Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together.”
4. Losing the faith to trust
When a relationship that was supposed to last a lifetime fails, it often takes away all your faith in happy endings. You may question hope and trust and what love can do. You may even grow more suspicious of people’s motives when they try to get closer to you, you doubt whether you are worthy of the attention.
Often, you lose any hope of finding love or a durable relationship again. Because trust is so much more than catching your partner in a lie, it is about the belief that they have your interests at heart too.
Ask yourself, does your fear of loss cloud your perspective? Do you feel comfortable to ask for what you need? Is what is frightening you really your own trust issue after divorce, and not the other person?If your answer is yes to these questions about a new relationship, learn from the past and learn to trust again.
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5. To trust or not to trust
Love is nothing without trust and respect, as they say. You might find the chemistry, the shared interests, the compatibility and everything else but what about trust?
After facing a betrayal, the one feeling that you dominate everything is your trust in yourself. You may ask yourself if you are overthinking, or are you reading the signs wrong? While trust is built over time, allow it. Listen to those inner voices, or talk with someone you trust. Just don’t shut off from building a new relationship after divorce with the other person, for no fault of theirs.
6. Love at second sight
Post-divorce of course there are old scars. Dating sites or the pressure to be with someone again can often pull down a divorced person. Re-entry into the dating world can begin as daunting and unrewarding experience. You will be wary or skeptical of finding a compatible partner with matching interests.
If all this sounds depressing at first, remember, love happens when and not if. You will know when you are ready, and you will know when you are reading the other person correctly. Have faith!
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7. Doubting your self-confidence, am I good enough?
As we know from childhood once a toy breaks we might join it again. The crack shows, or often it might not be as sturdy as it was, the first time around. In adulthood that toy is you, you will heal, but the pain may still come up at times and often lead you to questioning your self-confidence.
Any change is hard. Just as losing a job creates a ripple effect in your life, or losing a parent, or losing your faith in what was meant to last a lifetime, and beyond. So is love after a divorce hard, and it is natural to first doubt. But if you have spent the time in healing yourself first, learn also to trust again!
8. Second time lucky, or unlucky?
Though your logical mind will tell you that everyone has had their heart broken a few times, but the fear of dating after divorce, will not leave you so easily. Second time lucky is often considered a rarity still. And though the odds would be in your favour you will doubt your own healing process to try this whole love thing all over again.
In the wise words of Rudyard Kipling,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
9. Body to body talk– a real fear of relationships after divorce
We are not just all soul or all heart; we all know romantic needs are also of the body. Sex or even the thought of sex immediately after divorce might seem extremely weird and uncomfortable. Being naked in front of someone new or being vulnerable with desire takes getting used to once again.
Remember, chemistry does not necessarily mean a long-term commitment. And a long-term commitment needs chemistry too. It is not impossible to fall in love after a divorce and be passionate again, others before you have managed. As much as others have had a fear of relationships after divorce. You will find it too, some day, may be not today.
10. Stars in the day and all that jazz
The ancient Greeks described love as not just one emotion, but multiple types: eros/erotic, philia/friendship, pragma/ domestic, ludus/playful, agape/universal and philautia/self-esteem. After divorce you will not regain all of them or will you, that is the real intrigue.
But as the famous quote from The Wizard of Oz goes,
Hearts will never be practical until they are made unbreakable.
A lesson in picking yourself up again
If you have gone through these possible barriers to finding love again, here is something else we recommend you try. Lay out a plan for becoming a stronger person for yourself first.
- Be optimistic. Love will come when, not if
- Be sure you have healed and not on the rebound, or as a revenge before dating again
- Start doing things that make you happy, for yourself, and not to share an activity with someone else
- Join a group or events where you will be most likely to find like-minded persons
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. No, we are not talking about serial dating, just good old fashioned getting to know other people on a date
Remember as long as there is life, there is a possibility and there is love; even love after divorce! You never know your post-divorce relationship might be more soulful, fulfilling and passionate. And worth the journey you took to reach a new love.