Dating after divorce – the guidelines
No-one who gets married imagines that it will end in divorce. Whatever the reasons behind it, there will be bruised hearts and dented confidence, especially when it comes to dating again.
At eHarmony we understand how difficult it can be to re-enter the dating scene, especially if you have not dated for a very long time. Here are some guidelines we have put together especially for divorcees.
1. Go through the stages – according to psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, there are five stages people go through when they suffer a loss, whether it is a death or a divorce. These stages are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Everyone goes through them in their own time and perhaps in a different order. If you are ready to date again you need to have reached the stage of acceptance.
2. Give yourself time to heal – no matter how happy or unhappy your marriage was, it will take some time for you to heal and be ready to trust again. There is no rush. The longer you give yourself to heal the more likely it is that your next relationship will be solid and lasting.
3. Connect with your life – the emotional, and sometimes financial, strain of a divorce can sometimes mean that other parts of your life get neglected. Reconnect with friends, start going out again, get your career back on track if it was affected, and above all else – learn to have fun again.
4. Don’t take an anaesthetic – many people want to numb the pain after a divorce and may use another relationship, alcohol, drugs, food or work to distract themselves from the painful feelings of loss and failure. These things only bring temporary relief and may actually make matters worse. The pain gets buried alive, and at some point in the future it will come up in order to be healed – better to do it now rather than compound the problem.
5. The bigger picture – the decision to start dating again will not only affect you but also your family, particularly children from the marriage. They are likely to miss their other parent and may not fully understand the reasons why you split. Introduce the idea of you dating again before you actually do anything and allow them the freedom to share their feelings with you.
6. The feel good factor – Divorce affects people’s confidence not just in themselves but in relationships, love and the sanctity of marriage. It is important to understand what happened and to forgive yourself for any mistakes you think you made in the marriage. Feeling good about yourself again may take time, and often it can help to talk to a trained professional so that you don’t make the same mistakes again in the future.
7. Getting to know you – some relationships are so intense that people can lose sight of themselves completely. Afterwards it can feel like they have been left with only half a life. They don’t know how to care for themselves or spend their time without the relationship to define them. This is where you do the work of reconnecting with yourself and developing the most loving, loyal and lasting relationship you can – you need to become your own best friend. This is the one relationship guaranteed to last a lifetime.
8. Ready to try again – you will know when you are ready to move on and start a new relationship because there will be an urge to share your full, exciting and enjoyable life with someone else. You will have love to give rather than heartache to heal. You will believe that you are someone worth getting to know and it will be one match’s lucky day when they win your heart.
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