It is generally assumed that divorced people have a better understanding of relationships because they have come out of a ‘failed’ one themselves. They have first-hand experiences of what could break or go wrong in a new relationship after divorce. However, this might not hold true for all divorcees. They might continue making the same relationship mistakes that they made before separating from their spouse.
Anyone who goes through a divorce has to experience several changes in their lives – some of which can be bitter and heartbreaking. Some are unable to move on while others have the strength to face the consequences, heal from the grief, fall in love, and even think about moving in with a new partner after divorce. They feel empowered and ready to ignite a new romance after divorce, no matter how painful their journey was. Post-divorce relationships can come as a new ray of hope in their lives, giving them something to look forward to rather than lamenting the losses of the past.
Can you relate to that? Are you ready for a new relationship after divorce as well? Well, divorce and new relationships can be difficult to navigate sometimes. To help ease your journey of dating after divorce, we spoke to Shazia Saleem (Masters in Psychology), who specializes in separation and divorce counseling, about things that divorced people should keep in mind when getting into a new relationship.
Are You Ready For A Relationship After Divorce?
This is a question you should definitely ask yourself before you jump into your first serious relationship after divorce. You know yourself better than anyone. Only when you are ready physically, emotionally, and mentally, will you be able to commit yourself to another person. The aim should be to focus on fostering a healthy relationship rather than look for rebounds to numb the pain of a failed marriage.
Remember the first breakup after divorce can come as a setback in your process of healing and moving on, and that’s why it’s best to avoid rushing into a relationship before you’re ready to open your heart and life to someone new. If you are busy being the new girlfriend after divorce or dealing with your first boyfriend after divorce but are scared about what the future may hold, allow us to help you. Here are certain signs that will help you determine whether you are ready for a new relationship after divorce or not:
- Eyes on the future: When you stop living in the past and think more about how the future can be fruitful and satisfying, you can consider yourself ready for starting a new relationship during divorce
- Positive outlook: There is productivity and positivity in everything you do, whether it is personal or professional. You’re no longer nursing the heartache of a failed marriage or feel cynical about love and romantic relationships
- Confident about yourself: You’ve regained confidence in yourself after being divorced and do not let the fate of your marriage define your self-worth
- Interested in dating after divorce: You feel hopeful about going on a date or meeting someone new, and the possibility of dating after divorce excites you more than it scares or overwhelms
- Changed attitude toward relationships: Your attitude toward relationships has changed. You become more mature and understanding of your past relationship. This encourages you to begin a new relationship after divorce
- No lingering bitterness: The feelings of anger and disappointment that you had for your ex-partner subside and gradually disappear. You can look at your past without being consumed by pain, hurt, anger, or disappointment
You could be jittery about your first relationship after divorce because you may be skeptical about choosing the wrong person again. Says Shazia, “When divorced people start to date again, they feel conscious and cautious of their current relationship. They may doubt their decision because they feel things might go wrong again. They fear the unknown.” Once that worry is taken care of, falling in love after a divorce is not that hard.
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Relationships After Divorce: Success Rates And Things You Should Know
Does the first relationship after divorce last? What is the first relationship after divorce success rate? These questions can weigh on your mind when you start entertaining the possibility of dating after divorce. Being divorced, you must have learned to stand up for yourself and find your own way. But now that you are independent and strong, are you tempted by the idea of getting a chance to love once again? As lucrative as that temptation is, you also know that it is risky, which is why it’s natural for you to wonder how your relationship after being divorced will grow.
So, how soon should you get into your first serious relationship after divorce? How soon should you consider remarriage after divorce? After the separation, you must give yourself enough time to heal, readjust, and only then proceed with a new partnership. Shazia explains, “There is no ideal scenario that you can pinpoint to and say, “This is the right time to move ahead”. It depends upon every individual’s situation and mindset.
“Overcoming past experiences and hurt is difficult but you need to give yourself time to heal and get over your divorce. Once a person heals completely at a conscious level, getting into a new relationship after divorce is a good idea because they will be able to connect better with the new person. Dating someone without healing could result in a series of failed relationships, which is why it’s best to take a slow and steady approach, draw healthy boundaries, and give yourself time to heal.”
Statistics suggest that breakup rates for a relationship after a divorce are quite high. You may ask why. It is simply because those who get into new relationships after being divorced carry the emotional baggage of their past. Some may fail to learn from their past mistakes. Then, there is also the fear of going through the same pain again, which can make it harder for divorced people to let someone new in completely. They may also get insecure in a new relationship after divorce, keep looking for the red flags and get jittery when they spot some. That’s when they think that they should end it before things get out of hand.
Relationships after divorce are often built on shaky grounds because a person is still dealing with post-divorce issues like financial instability and insecure children. In a situation like this, they are often not able to give it all to their new relationship. Shazia says, “Past experiences may haunt them. They might find it difficult to get over their former partner or the whole divorce process and trust this new person who has walked into their life. They might feel skeptical initially.” All of these reasons can contribute to the somewhat underwhelming first relationship after divorce success rate.
So if you are being the new girlfriend after divorce or the first boyfriend after divorce, you should also be prepared for the fact that your relationship will not be just about fun dates and spending time together. If you’re dating a divorcee, you will have to be understanding toward your partner and the issues they are grappling with, especially if there are children involved.
15 Things Divorced People Should Know About New Relationships
When a person is starting a new relationship after being divorced, a lot of factors are at work. Sometimes, the person learns from the past and wants to give their all to their first serious relationship after divorce. Other times, they may be paranoid about repeating old mistakes or things going wrong again. The fear of the first breakup after divorce may loom large, which can make people act clingy or jealous and controlling in the relationships they form post-divorce.
It is also possible that they fall back into the old patterns in post-divorce relationships, which gets in the way of a new romance taking a life of its own and flourishing to its full potential. However, this is not to say that dating after divorce is a lost cause. By being more mindful of your behavior patterns and triggers and taking proactive measures to manage your responses better, you can find your happily-ever-after with a new partner. Here are a few to keep in mind while getting into your first serious relationship after divorce:
1. New relationships after divorce do not usually have good survival rates
A Pew Research Center statistic shows that 4 in 10 divorced people get married again in the U.S., but once again, second marriages have a lesser chance of survival. Being mindful of the typically low first relationship after divorce success rate can help you set your expectations realistically and also be more self-aware of the reasons that can get in the way of a flourishing romance after a divorce.
These reasons invariably boil down to the emotional baggage a divorced person carries through their lives. A divorced person is usually going through a lot at that point in their lives, which can make it harder for them to commit to a new relationship entirely. Therefore, sometimes, falling in love quickly after a divorce is what kills relationships. You do not want to rush into a new relationship until you have worked out issues from your past one.
However, do not get discouraged by the statistics. If you love your new partner, you can always try your best to make things work. Nothing is written in stone. Shazia explains, “Nobody can comment or be judgmental about whether the new relationship after divorce will last. Each situation is different. Sometimes, it might last. Other times, it might not because the person is not ready to move forward yet.”
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2. The kids are more important than the new partner
It is obvious to a divorced person that their new partner should understand that their kids are more important to them. You might be in a new relationship but that does not mean your priorities toward your kids change. This is natural because the kids are one thing that you cherish from your previous relationship.
However, this can cause problems if you do not have a loving and accommodating new partner. While you may see this as a given, your new partner may not. Understand that being the first girlfriend after a divorce or being the first boyfriend to someone who is coming out of a failed marriage is not easy. There is no rulebook to help a person navigate this territory, and unless you communicate your needs and expectations clearly, this issue can get in the way of successfully dating after divorce.
According to Shazia, “When kids are involved, you have to think holistically. The child’s well-being should be made a priority because they have suffered for no fault of theirs. Parents should have lives of their own but they have to take responsibility for their actions and that includes making sure that their child feels secure.” If you partner with someone who has kids of their own and understands your predicament, then you can work toward having a successful blended family.
3. The new relationship is all about having fun and getting to know each other
You should not think about getting too serious too soon in a new relationship. If you are recently divorced, then you must give yourself time to have fun and enjoy the new relationship. Go on dates and spend time with your new partner and get to know each other well before you think about committing yourself to another serious relationship. Not all your post-divorce relationships have to lead to a deep, meaningful connection. Bear that in mind when you start dating after divorce.
However, Shazia says, “If you find a person you’re compatible with and who is compassionate, you might want to go ahead with pursuing romance after divorce. If your thought process is similar, then it’s probably the right time to get into a new relationship and look forward to a new beginning.”
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4. Timing is very important in a new relationship
Whether it is going on a first date with the new partner or introducing them to your kids, remember that the timing is highly important in these matters. Falling in love quickly after divorce and rushing things can be as harmful as never letting yourself fall in love. Only when you’re sure that this is the person you want to give a chance to, is when you should start dating the person.
In addition, take a lot of time before actually introducing the kids to your new partner. According to Shazia, “As a parent, your child’s well-being should be of the utmost importance”. If you decide on moving in with a new partner after divorce or taking the relationship to the next level, talk to your kids about it. All these cautious steps will ensure that your new relationship after divorce thrives.
Speaking of timing, starting a new relationship during divorce can be a recipe for disaster. Not only can it be used against you in the divorce proceedings but also things can get muddled and complicated emotionally for everyone involved if you get into a new romantic equation before the dust has settled on your marriage.
5. Honesty and clarity of thought are a must in a new relationship after divorce
When you get into a new relationship after divorce, you must be honest and clear in your mind. These qualities are something that every person looks for in a potential partner. Thus, even your new partner expects honesty from you and a clear expression of your inner thoughts and desires. Make sure your intentions are clear and that you don’t disappoint or hurt them.
Know what you want in your first relationship after the divorce, and state those needs. Are you looking to date casually to test the waters? Are you looking for something serious and long-term? Or are you open to going with the flow and seeing how a new relationship unfolds? Each of these is a valid choice, but it’s vital that the other half of your new romantic equation is aware of your intent and expectations.
Being the first girlfriend after a divorce or being a boyfriend to a newly divorced person comes with its own share of apprehensions and fears. Always be mindful of this fact and do not leave your new partner grappling in the dark about the future of your relationship. This is one of the most important pieces of advice for dating after divorce.
6. New relationships are more complicated to handle
As a divorcee, if you think that you will be able to handle any sort of relationship, then you’re mistaken because not all relationships are the same. Your new relationship after divorce will be entirely different from your last and is likely to bring its own set of complications and challenges that you will have to learn to navigate.
According to Shazia, “In my experience, when people act out of their ego, or try to prove to this new person that they have moved on, and start a new relationship with a lot of negativity or pressure or hate toward the former partner, then it becomes difficult for the new relationship to survive. The mantra is to take it slow.”
You will not be as easy-going as you were in your first relationship and you now have added responsibilities in the form of unresolved feelings and needs of your children. Yes, there will be hardships but a new relationship will also bring with it newer experiences. You might get to experience love, hope, and joy all over again. Possibly, in ways you never have before. So, try to trust your new partner and be open to new things.
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7. Your partner will expect sexual intimacy at some point
Falling in love after divorce is one thing and achieving emotional or sexual intimacy in a relationship quite another. After a divorce, it might be difficult for you to become physically intimate in a new relationship. This is understandable but make sure that you communicate this to your new partner so that they understand your hesitation (if any) and can give you enough time and space to overcome this stumbling block.
Sexual intimacy is a crucial part of many relationships and, at some point, your partner will expect to get physically close to you. However, it is important that they do not rush you into anything. If sex is all your partner seems to be interested in, they are not the one for you. And if the new partner is perfect in all other criteria, then being intimate with them should not take long.
Remember never to force or rush yourself into doing something you’re not ready for just because you cannot bear to handle the burden of another failed relationship. Don’t let the first breakup after divorce, or even the 10th, make you feel that you must comply with your partner’s wishes even when you’re not comfortable doing so. The right person will love you and appreciate you for who you are, warts and all. So, hang in there.
8. Communication patterns change in a new relationship
The failure of the past relationship has probably taught you a lesson or two. So now you know that communication should be given top priority in your new relationship. The way you interact with your new partner will change considerably in comparison to the way you conversed with your ex-spouse.
You will probably understand the communication mistakes couples make in a whole new light. You will be able to assert your needs and opinions more clearly than you did in your previous relationship. On the other hand, you will even listen to what your new partner has to say. You will pay more attention to their needs as well. All of this can make your new relationship after divorce successful.
9. Money matters will be dealt with intelligently in a new relationship
If you filed for a divorce due to financial issues, then it is possible that you will not repeat the same mistake in the new dynamic. You’d be painfully aware of how money issues can ruin a relationship. You may want to set clear financial boundaries right from the beginning. That’s vital in post-divorce relationships.
Even if it was monetary issues that drove your previous marriage to the brink, it is important that you prioritize financial management in a new relationship after divorce. You and your new partner must decide on how money will be spent, who will spend on what kind of stuff, how expenses and earnings will be split, and any other money matter that needs attention. This is a smart move to help nurture the new relationship after divorce, and become absolutely non-negotiable if there are children involved.
10. Personal space and time should be highly respected by the new partner
Your marriage might have ended in divorce because your ex-partner failed to give you enough personal space and time. If you now have an understanding partner, then they will respect your boundaries. Don’t let the issues of the past cast a shadow on your post-divorce relationships. Don’t hold yourself back from giving your 100% to a new relationship just because you’re afraid that your new partner may have the same flaws as your old one.
Detach yourself from your past relationship and don’t let it haunt you. Most importantly, don’t keep comparing your new partner with your old one. This could prove to be disastrous for the relationship. If you have fallen for someone after your divorce, treat it as a new dawn in your life. Instead of getting insecure in a new relationship after divorce, look at it as a new chance at happiness.
11. Dealing with the relatives and close friends of the new partner can be daunting
Your new partner might have taken a step forward and introduced you to their relatives or close friends. But dealing with them may or may not be a cakewalk for you since you are a divorcee. It can be overwhelming. However, while entering into a new relationship, you have to be ready for such advancements from your partner’s side.
According to Shazia, “It can be difficult or easy to deal with your partner’s relatives and friends because it is a choice that you make to bond with them. A new relationship is rarely forceful. You not only accept your partner for who they are but also the people they are associated with, and so does your partner. It can be challenging or easy depending on your perspective toward the people in your partner’s life.”
12. Fights and arguments will be quite different in a new relationship
As a more mature person in a new relationship after divorce, you will probably handle fights and arguments smartly. You might also stop fighting on petty issues like jealousy or possessiveness in the relationship. The frequency of the arguments might also reduce, as you will argue about major issues only.
However, this does not mean that disagreements won’t take place. Just that, these fights or disagreements will be quite different in your first serious relationship after a divorce. If you’ve done the necessary work to identify how you may have contributed to your marriage falling apart and fix any problematic tendencies, you’d be far better equipped to deal with conflict and differences healthily when you begin dating after divorce.
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13. Flowery romance will not envelop your new relationship
Your divorce will make you a realist. Therefore, you might not expect any flowery romance from your new partner. You might not even be able to express the same either. All you will require in your new relationship after divorce is a show of genuine love and affection from your partner’s side.
Superficial and shallow flowery expressions of puppy love won’t impress you anymore. If you have fallen in love after a divorce, you want to have a more mature romance and if your partner understands that, then nothing like it. We’re not saying that there won’t be any cute gestures of love but you might not be game for those grand declarations anymore.
14. Expectations might be high in the new relationship
Even though you might be a realist in your new relationship after divorce, you are likely to expect more from your new partner. Why? You have faced hurt and disappointment from your ex-spouse. It is possible that quite a few of your needs from the marriage were not met. Maybe you didn’t receive the kind of love you had hoped for, which is why you are more likely to have high expectations from your current partner.
It is quite obvious and nothing to be ashamed of. But this could be detrimental to your first relationship after divorce and this could also be the reason it fizzles out. Now, you are in a state of mind where you know what you don’t want to compromise on. That’s actually great! Just make sure you communicate your needs and expectations to your new partner.
15. Adjustment will not be a major issue in the new relationship
Most marriages end in divorce because people fail to adjust or find common ground with each other. However, as a person who is now ready to get into a serious relationship after divorce, you will notice that adjusting to the requirements of your new partner will be comparatively easier. You will understand and respect your partner’s differences and boundaries better. You will probably be more chilled out and won’t pay as much heed to the smaller issues.
A setback as big as a divorce certainly lends you a new perspective on life, bringing in its wake the important lesson of looking at the big picture and not sweating the small stuff. You can take this learning to make a conscious effort to be more flexible in a future relationship as well as seek and give space more effortlessly.
Once you get familiar or are careful with these things about a new relationship after divorce, you might just find your second happily ever after. We understand that trust does not come easy after the emotionally draining ordeal that a divorce is, but you can try, right? If you want to give love another chance, be open to letting people into your lives. Who knows, you may just find your soulmate the second time around.
Statistics show that the first relationship after divorce usually does not last long. People tend to carry the emotional baggage of their previous marriage and also get insecure in a new relationship after divorce. Having said that, it differs from person to person. Divorce and new relationships are difficult to navigate anyway. If you are able to deal with your past baggage, really love your new partner, and are willing to put in the effort your new relationship needs, things might just work out for you.
There’s nothing like ‘too soon to be in a relationship after divorce’. Some may feel ready to jump into a new relationship within a few months while others may take years. We suggest you take your time to heal and get back to the dating scene only when you feel ready emotionally and mentally.