A divorce can leave you lonely and depressed. Your self-esteem can be decimated, your heart broken. As a result you feel a desperate need to reconnect and have someone in your life who makes you feel wanted and needed.
Or, you may feel like a burden has been lifted and you can’t wait to get back in the game. But getting into a new relationship immediately after a divorce will usually lead to choosing the person most convenient rather than the right one for you.
I’ve been a relationship therapist for 25 years, and here are my top 10 tips I suggest when dating after a divorce.
1. Don’t enter into a committed relationship for at least a year. You need time to get acquainted with who you are now, and you may find that you have changed since the last time you were single. What you are looking for in a relationship may have changed as well.
2. If you have been out of the dating scene for some time, you may prefer going out with friends before you start with strangers. Going out to parties or restaurants without your mate will feel odd. Having “safe” people around will help you to adjust to the lack of their presence.
3. Usually, once a woman has sex she feels an attachment. Men do not necessarily have that same feeling. So if you chose to have sex, and you are a woman, don’t hang around the phone waiting for him to call. And if you are a guy don’t say anything that would make her feel that you intend to call if you don’t.
4. If you are meeting a stranger, whether it is from an online site or a referral from a friend, meet during the day for coffee or lunch. Co not meet them at your home. A coffee shop or bookstore will do nicely. You can never be too careful, and you do not want to have someone you don’t want to see again showing up at your home. Better safe than sorry.
5. Don’t feel that you have to go out every night to try to meet someone.
6. I have found that many single men really hate going home to an empty house, so they become workaholics or gym rats. They keep themselves so busy that they have little time to relax. Keeping busy is important after a divorce, but don’t let yourself become so engrossed in what you are doing that you have no flexibility or time for anything else. But the gym is a great place to meet someone and a good place to have a first date with someone you may have met there.
7. Spend time with family. This might be a good time to visit those relatives out of state who you haven’t seen in some time. You could use a few days away, and renewing old relationships adds to a positive new beginning. But don’t rush to introduce your newfound love to your family. That implies a serious relationship, and you may not want that level of commitment right now.
8. It’s a good time to go into therapy. Having an unbiased third party help you to understand where you have been and determine where you are going is very helpful. You will gain insight into yourself and your situation. Seeing a therapist is not a sign of mental illness; it’s a chance to grow and a luxury you should give yourself now. Your therapist can also help you with dating issues as they arise.
9. A divorce is a very major life change, and it’s a good idea to try to keep the rest of your life as stable as you can. You might be inclined to want to change your job or move far away, but it’s a good idea to wait on those changes and keep changes to a minimum for the time being. As you date different people they may introduce you to different things. Stay open and don’t be afraid to try them. Who knows; you may find that you enjoy things you never even knew about.
10. Lastly, and very importantly, if you have a history of substance abuse, don’t let the divorce be an excuse for relapse. Go back to AA or NA before you begin using again to get the support you know you need to get over this uniquely painful and stressful time. If it is best that you not spend your time with people who use drugs or alcohol. Now would not be the time to change that personal policy.