It’s daunting to return to the dating pool after being with someone for just a year or two. Imagine how intimidating and disconcerting it will be to start dating after divorce. The great upheaval of divorce is known as the second most stressful life event next only to the death of a loved one. It makes you question everything you know about love, relationships, and promises.
Your self-confidence is hanging by a thread, you aren’t able to process your own feelings, and your decision to end the marriage may be questioned by those around you, including your children and parents. It’s an excruciating time and we are here to help you figure out how you can find love again post-divorce so that this new chapter of your life isn’t bereft of an intimate connection and companionship.
To help you 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. She says, “Overcoming past experiences and hurt is difficult but you need to give yourself time to heal and get over your divorce. Only when a person heals completely at a conscious level, getting into a new relationship after divorce is possible for them.”
Are You Ready For A Relationship After Divorce?
Statistics suggest that breakup rates in relationships after divorce are quite high. You may ask why. It is simply because often people get into new relationships after being divorced without working through the emotional trauma of their past. That’s why it is crucial to take out time and reflect on your divorce before you jump the gun and start dating again.
If you aren’t ready physically, mentally, financially, and emotionally, you will end up hurting yourself again. A healthy mind is crucial for sustaining a healthy relationship. Here are some essential questions you need to ask yourself before you start dating after divorce:
- “Do I want a new relationship just because my ex-spouse has moved on?”
- “Am I looking to date someone just to get back at my ex or to make them jealous and hurt them for hurting me?”
- “Am I ready to consciously invest my feelings in a new partner?”
- “Have I completely processed my feelings? Have I taken the time to heal?”
Once you have established your feelings and thoughts, your aim should be to foster a healthy relationship rather than just numbing your pain after the divorce. Don’t rush yourself into the dating scene just because your friends and family are forcing you to get back out there. They don’t know what you have just gone through. You are the only one who can decide whether or not you are ready to go down this road.
Shazia says, “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.” That’s why we have come up with some signs to determine if you are ready to find love again:
- You have your eyes on the future: You have learned how to make peace with the past. You have buried all the ifs and buts. You have stopped reliving scenarios in your head. You have stopped wishing for things to be a certain way. You don’t think about changing the things that went wrong. You have accepted your divorce and you are looking for new things now with positivity.
- Positive outlook toward future relationships: Some people start dating after divorce as a way to deal with their sadness and pain. If you have a positive outlook toward new relationships and want to genuinely fall in love again, then you are ready to find love
- You have regained your confidence: The ordeal of divorce is likely to have dealt a severe blow to your sense of self-confidence and self-esteem and left you questioning your worth and purpose. All of those feelings are natural. The question is: have you got past them? If you no longer let your self-worth be defined by one failed relationship or marriage, then you are ready to date again
- A different approach toward relationships: You have had ample time to get over your feelings about the divorce and you are done pondering over the things that went wrong. Now it’s time to approach future relationships with maturity and empathy. There should be no lingering bitterness from your old relationship that can spill over into a new one
Related Reading: What You Must Know About Dating A Divorcee
15 Things Divorced People Should Know About New Relationships
When trying to heal and fill your life with love post-divorce, you need to have a conversation with yourself regarding not falling into the same patterns and same mistakes as before. 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. The first relationship after divorce doesn’t usually survive
A Pew Research Center statistic shows that 4 in 10 divorced people get married again in the U.S. but second marriages have a lesser chance of survival. Being mindful of this can help you set your expectations realistically. However, that doesn’t mean your first relationship after divorce won’t survive at all. No one size fits all here.
Shazia says, “Nobody can comment or judge 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.”
2. Your kids are more important than the new partner
Shazia says, “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.”
Divorce and children can be a complex combination. There is a chance that your children have trouble accepting your future relationships. They may even resent you or hold grudges against you for breaking up the family and not understand your pain at the moment. This dynamic may change once they grow up and become more mature.
Until then, you need to tread carefully, finding the right balance between making sure your kids’ needs are met and navigating any future relationships you may have. Besides, when you decide to start dating after divorce, you have to make sure that this new person will be accepting of the fact that your kids come before them. They shouldn’t expect you to make their priority.
3. The new relationship is all about having fun and getting to know each other
When you meet new people after divorce, do it without any hidden agenda or pre-set objective in mind. Don’t go in with a set notion of how things will pan out with a prospective partner, instead focus on getting to know each other and spend time enjoying each other’s company.
Irrespective of whether you’re ready for a serious relationship after your divorce or not, you have to learn to go with the flow and let a connection develop organically. Don’t force the relationship or rush things between you and your new partner. You need to keep a tab on the pace of the relationship. Try the dating scene, have an honest conversation with this new person, and see how things progress.
4. Timing is very important in a new relationship
Timing is absolutely essential in a new relationship. You can’t just jump into a relationship with someone new before you’ve done the inner work to heal the emotional wounds of the past. Likewise, you can skate through the stages of relationship development just because being with this person feels comforting and exciting.
For instance, you can’t introduce them to your kids after just two dates. You have to be absolutely certain that you like this person and want them to stay in your life before inviting them home for dinner with your kids. Bear in mind that falling in love as quickly is as vicious as never letting yourself fall in love again post-divorce. Shazia advises, “As a parent, your child’s well-being should be of the utmost importance”. If you have fallen in love with someone and want to take the relationship to the next level, talk to your kids about it first and gain their trust and confidence.
Related Reading: Finding Love After Divorce – 9 Things To Be Mindful Of
5. Don’t start serial dating
When you’re finally single after being married for a long time, it can feel a lot like a prisoner being freed from jail (especially if the marriage was toxic or unhappy – which is likely given that you’ve chosen to walk out). You might want to hook up with a lot of people and use one-night stands and casual liaisons as a way to numb the pain, anger, and rage you’re grappling with.
Don’t dive into the dating pool with as many people as you like just to prove to the world that you have moved on. However, if you’re someone who craves emotional intimacy and a strong connection in their intimate relationship, this can leave you feeling hollow rather than filling the void within. You already have a lot of emotional baggage on account of the divorce. You don’t want to add to it.
6. Don’t view the new relationship from an old lens
When you are a divorcee, things can get a little complicated with a new partner because your experience in your past relationship can influence your responses, behavior patterns, etc. It helps to remember each relationship is different. You and your new partner will have a lot of conflicts and misunderstandings. It falls on you to approach them differently and make it a point that your previous relationship doesn’t ruin your future.
Shazia says, “In my experience, when people act out of 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 to sustain that connection. The mantra is to take it slow.”
7. Your partner will expect intimacy at some point
Let’s say you have been divorced for three years. Tried online dating apps for a few months and now you have been dating someone for four months. At this point, your current partner may want to get intimate with you. It could be any or all kinds of intimacy, including physical and emotional. They may want to see your vulnerable side. They may want to know about your fears, traumas, and secrets.
What are you going to do about this? Are you ready to let a new person in? Post-divorce dating can put you in a tight spot if you’re not on the same page as your partner about the pace of the relationship. Our advice? If you trust this person completely and genuinely see a future with them, go ahead and stimulate vulnerability in your relationship.
8. Beware of scammers and frauds on dating apps
The online dating world has changed drastically over the years. Given that you were away from the dating scene for a long time, you may not know how dating sites work and their pros and cons. While there are chances of you meeting someone amazing on these dating apps, there is an equal chance of you coming in touch with romance scammers and catfishers.
To avoid falling into such traps, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Always keep your guard up and meet them in public. Don’t share your personal details or bank accounts, or invite them home unless you’re sure of their intentions and have established some sort of trust.
Related Reading: I Am Single And I Want To Marry A Divorcee With A Kid
9. Don’t trash talk your ex-partner with your current partner
You may still have a lot of unresolved issues with your former spouse. However, refrain from badmouthing them in front of your new partner. Your issues with your ex should not spill over into the new romantic connections you form after divorce. Besides, if you have children from your marriage and are co-parenting with your ex, the situation can get complicated if your new partner becomes an integral part of your life. Don’t lose sight of the fact that your ex is the father/mother of your children and accord them the due respect even if they hurt you terribly.
Besides, your hostile attitude toward your ex-spouse could be a deal breaker for your new partner. They may view it as a reflection of your character more than your ex-partner’s. Talk about things that matter. Talk about how you plan on getting a job, raising your kids, and adjusting to your new life post-divorce.
10. Be smart about financial matters
The split with your ex-partner has left you to fend for yourself physically, mentally, and financially. It’s best to not involve a new partner or romantic interest in monetary matters too soon. You must be painfully aware of how money issues can ruin a relationship and may want to set clear financial boundaries right from the beginning. That’s vital for the success of post-divorce relationships.
Shazia has a piece of advice about handling financial matters wisely. She says, “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 how to spend and save money. This is a smart move to help nurture a relationship after divorce and becomes absolutely non-negotiable if there are children involved.”
11. Don’t have high expectations from future partners and relationships
Unrealistic expectations can be a red flag in relationships. It’s a breeding ground for resentment and disappointment. The less you expect things from someone, the happier you will be with them. When you place unrealistic expectations on someone, it will burden them.
This burden will make them push you away. To err is human and your current partner is a human after all and will make mistakes. You can’t compare their mistakes to your ex-spouse’s and think that this relationship is also doomed to fail.
12. Find common interests with your new partner
Having similar interests with your current partner will be beneficial in the long run. You can’t keep dating someone just because you share good sexual chemistry with them. Intense attraction can bring two people together but it is bound to fade over time. That’s when similar interests and finding avenues to connect with each other become critical for keeping the spark alive.
Good sex and chemistry can blind you to their red flags, unresolved emotions, and toxic traits. That’s why you mustn’t build a new relationship on just one aspect that may be working in your favor. Look at the person holistically and see if they will be a good fit for you in the long term.
Related Reading: Divorce And Remarriage In India: Things You Should Know And Consider
13. Meeting your new partner’s family and friends can be overwhelming
Even if you are comfortable with the pace of your current relationship and have agreed to meet their friends and family, it can be overwhelming. However, if you have been dating for a long time, you need to be ready to take these steps toward taking your relationship to the next level.
Shazia says, “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.”
14. Don’t hide anything from your current partner
Always know that withholding the truth can cause a lot of damage, especially if you have been dating for a long time. Your partner deserves to know the truth about your separation. Tell them what went wrong without portraying anyone in a bad light. If they cheated, let them know you have your fears and insecurities that you are trying to deal with.
If you were the one who cheated, own up to your part in your marriage falling apart. If your marriage was making you depressed, then say so instead of hiding it from them. Let them know what went wrong in the past. That way, they can be more understanding of you.
15. Remember, only you can make yourself happy
Lastly, but most importantly, if you are trying to date someone expecting that they will bring happiness to your life, you need to reassess your reasons to put yourself out there. Know that only you are responsible for your happiness, no one else can make it happen for you. Practice self-care and love yourself before you go on a quest to find love post-divorce.
Above all else, trust your instincts. If you don’t feel like someone is right for you, by all means, take a step back. If you don’t think you are ready to meet new people, then don’t. Heal first. Talk to a relationship counselor or a family therapist if you aren’t able to healthily process the divorce. If professional help is what you are looking for, then Bonobology’s panel of experienced counselors is only a click away.
- Divorce is the second most stressful life event. You need to heal from it before you start dating post-divorce
- Don’t think just because one relationship didn’t work out, other relationships are also going to fail
- Your kids have to be your priority. Don’t introduce them to your dates and don’t involve them in your dating life too soon
- Don’t neglect yourself. Practice self-awareness, self-love, and self-care above everything else
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.
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.