Dating after divorce

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Are you ready? And what you need to know before you dive in.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve gone through a divorce, come out the other side and are contemplating dipping a toe in the dating waters again.

This can be daunting – especially if you’ve been hurt in the past or if the last time you went on a date was so long ago, Instagram wasn’t even a thing.

Marion Dunn, facilitator at Relationships Australia, says being intimidated to get back into dating is normal, and it’s important not to dive in too soon.

But when, exactly, is ‘too soon’? Marion explains that there is in fact an optimal time to start dating, and that is after you’ve grieved the loss of your marriage and partner, and have had the time to process what you’ve been through.

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“The time this takes depends on the nature of the divorce,” says Marion. “But if you start dating before you’ve properly grieved or processed, you’ll be experiencing all sorts of emotions and you probably won’t be thinking straight.”

Considering statistics show that there’s a higher divorce rate among second marriages, taking your time is imperative.

“Some people think if they find someone new, quickly, it will reduce the current pain and help them feel better,” explains Marion. “But quite often people feel worse because if you haven’t dealt with the rejection of the divorce, and you jump into bed and it doesn’t work out, the second lot of rejection can be worse than the divorce itself. You have to take care of yourself.”

A sign you are emotionally ready to start dating again is if you are able to take responsibility for your actions in the past. “At the beginning of the divorce process, it’s normal to think it’s all the other person’s fault,” explains Marion. “You need to realise the role you played in it. So ask yourself: Can I answer the question what part did I play in the breakdown of the relationship? If you can’t answer that, you’re not ready.”

And the good news is that when you take the time to work out what happened and build up your resilience, “that’s what will make your next relationship work,” Marion says.

When you are ready to date, there are some things to keep in mind.

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Firstly, make sure you leave old baggage behind. “If you bring it with you, you’re probably going to repeat the same old patterns and the relationship is likely to end in difficulties again,” warns Marion. “You’re more likely going to get what you need from another relationship if you’ve learned the lessons from the previous.”

Secondly, some people fall into the trap of being too fearful and aren’t able to trust someone. “Again that’s because they haven’t learnt from the past,” says Marion.

So take time out when you are single to work out who you are, what you want from the future, what your values are and what a successful relationship looks like to you. “If you do this, I would say love a second time round is not only possible, but if you learned the lessons from your relationship breakdown, it’s going to be better.”

Are you trying dating again after divorce? What are you learning about yourself along the way? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation on FacebookTwitter & Instagram. And if you are ready to narrow down the world of possibilities, sign up to eharmony today- find someone made for you.

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