A divorce will change your life no matter what situation you are in. Whether the split was your decision, your spouse's decision, or a unanimous choice by both of you, the divorce will bring changes, both positive and negative, that you must learn to deal with. The process, as it is happening, seems to be the focal point of life. Once it is over, the idea of dating can seem daunting and unappealing.
Some people will be more open to dating after a divorce, but that often depends on the previous relationship that did not work out. It also heavily depends on personality and plain and simple choice. While there are pitfalls and dangers in dating after a divorce, they can be easily avoided in order to enjoy a fun and healthy social life. Keep reading for some basic tips on dating after a divorce.
Dating Before Divorce
Many people begin dating even before the entire divorce process is completed. Unfortunately, because the divorce process is so touchy and ex-spouses will sometimes attack each other over anything incriminating they can find, you should try and avoid dating before your proceedings are complete. Different states follow different laws, some involving fault that could hurt you if you are found in a relationship before the marriage is officially over. While the decision is ultimately yours, you should try to avoid dating before your divorce is final, simply for the sake of protecting yourself.
After being in a relationship for a long period of time, it may be difficult to immediately view yourself as a fully independent and capable person. Since marriage is the merging of two lives, you come to rely on that relationship and can lose the idea of being an independent individual. After a divorce, simple everyday tasks can seem daunting when approached alone for the first time. Dating, then, can be one of the most daunting tasks of all.
Take some time for self-analysis after your divorce. Many people who are coming out of a divorce tend to have a negative self-image. This type of attitude will only cause you problems, especially when dating. People who have a negative image of themselves often are attracted to people who tend to evaluate them in that way, pointing out and criticizing negative traits or features. This is a bad situation to be in, especially right after a divorce.
Begin taking steps towards a more positive self-image. Although you have probably heard it before, creating a list of your most positive traits will help you to build back much of your self-esteem. Think of your best features on your own, then consult your friends and family to verify your list. Once you have created your list, it is time to use it. Post your list in places around your house and other areas you consistently spend time in. As you go through your daily routine, read through the list every once a while. Read the list out loud and in a confident manner. Over time, whether you can consciously feel it or not, the repetition of your strongest qualities will build up your self-image.
A great addition to this self-help technique is to add to the list features and personal attributes that you would like to aspire to having. In other words, think about ways you could improve your personality and add those to your list. For example, you might add "patience" to the list if you feel that you can improve in that area. Again, you can consult friends and family in an open, supportive environment about what features are your best and which features you could use some work on. When you enter a new relationship, your sense of independence and positive self-image will shine through.
Create a Support Group
Many people, without doing it on purpose, will choose to go through the process of a divorce on their own. Whether it is conscious or not, avoiding human interaction and expression during a divorce can create even harder problems to deal with. A support group will help you to keep your situation in perspective. A divorce is a life-altering event and anyone involved in one should take comfort in the people around them.
It is natural to find support from the people who you are closest with in your life. While these people know you best and will have your best interests in mind, it is also advantageous to discuss your feelings with new friends. Recent acquaintances will be less critical, but will be able to look at your personality from an objective point of view. Your existing family and friends already have determined their view of your personality and might have one reason or another be less than completely honest. It is even possible for your friends or family to feel a sense of jealousy that you have this new freedom and therefore may not provide the best insight. These friends and family may also find themselves taking sides in the divorce.
New friends, however, will give you a straightforward, observation-based evaluation. Confidence is definitely contagious, so surround yourself with new friends who are confident, kind, and open with communication. This does not mean you should exclude your family and friends in your support group; they can sometimes offer the most insightful and helpful advice. However, do not limit yourself to those friends and family. Explore the people around you and utilize your newfound freedom to make some new friends.
Date, Don't Jump
It is quite common for people who have just been divorced to believe that their first new relationship is "the one," falling in love immediately and never looking back. Although dating after a divorce is quite healthy, it is easy to feel exaggerated emotions that convince us we are in love. In reality, we are confused.
Dating after a divorce can be both terrifying and exciting. If you hit if off with someone right after your divorce, that is fine. It's great, actually. You are allowing yourself to move on and enjoy the free, single lifestyle you are now living. However, many people get overwhelmed with the new relationship and believe they have fallen in love.
While it's great that you have found someone, it is very important to take dating slow and not jump into any commitments. Without allowing enough time for self-assessment and establishing a new independent identity, you will be unaware of what you want in a romantic partner.
Initially, it is common for recently divorced singles to latch on to other singles who are simply polar opposites of their ex-spouse. This quick response to the situation is ill advised. If you allow yourself some time to explore your new situation, feelings, and options, you will get a better sense of what kind of person will actually make you happy on a day-to-day basis.
Plan Activities Ahead of Time
Don't sit around and wait for plans to come to you; make you own! After a divorce it is common for people to avoid activities. Life just seems easier in bed. This approach, however, will only cause problems no matter how appealing it is.
By keeping yourself busy and active, you will not only keep your mind and body healthy, but you will give yourself a real chance to meet new people. No matter what activity you are interested in, there are other people who like it too. By making concrete plans to enjoy activities, with or without existing friends, you will be making a choice to help yourself mentally through your divorce. While out and about, you have less opportunity to dwell on your situation and will be naturally thrust into your new social life.
This is also a fantastic time for you to learn some new skills. Any interest you have ever thought about can now be explored with your extra time. Learn to cook, teach yourself the guitar or take up snowboarding. Whatever interests you have, explore them. Again, this will distract you from dwelling on the negative aspects of your situation. Furthermore, exploring new interests will help you to meet new people as well as impress the next person you are romantically interested in.
A divorce brings emotions that are confusing, stressful, and often debilitating. Without helping yourself get better, you can find yourself trapped in a repeating cycle that becomes routine. If you can push yourself to open the lines of communication, find comfort in friends, explore new interests and date intelligently, your divorce will eventually feel like a memory.