We know, we know – true love doesn’t exist! At least, that’s how it may seem after a nasty divorce. But at some point, you’re going to consider getting back on the horse and giving romance another shot. The trouble is, where do you even begin? How do you avoid getting wrapped up in another unhealthy relationship? Here are a few tips for dating after divorce.
Figure out what you want.
Before you even think about extending or accepting an invite, do a little soul searching. Spend a little time on yourself. Determine what it is you want out of dating. Are you looking for a casual fling, or do you want a new steady companion? When we don’t know who we are now, we may default to familiar, undesirable patterns. You know, the ones from your last failed relationship.
Be honest with yourself. If you’re still reeling from the damage of your divorce, acknowledge that it isn’t the right time to start a serious relationship.
Be up front, but don’t go into detail.
So how do you explain the scorched-earth nature of your divorce to your date? Listen, everyone has a little baggage, but you don’t have to bring it with you on a date. It’s a good idea to let a person you’re dating know that you’re recovering from a nasty divorce, but put it out there and leave it at that.
Do not badmouth your ex. Don’t recount the wrongs done to you. Your new date is not your therapist and doesn’t know you or your ex well enough to fully understand or care. If you find yourself wanting to discuss it, redirect and ask your date a question about themselves instead.
Remind yourself that things are different now.
How were date nights with your former spouse? Maybe you kept talk focused on the kids, or didn’t talk much at all. Be conscious of not treating your current date as you would your former spouse.
That means keeping the conversation about your children to a minimum and putting your phone away. It’s common for us to disengage with partners toward the end of a marriage, so don’t pick up where you left off by acting the same way on a date with a new person. This is a fresh start.
Set boundaries ahead of time.
Above all else, we want to avoid getting hurt again. Before that first date, make some rules for yourself that will help you avoid getting in over your head straight away.
For example, you might want to limit alcohol intake to two drinks, especially if you’re nostalgic when tipsy. Because you’re out of practice, think of any rules you make as “training wheels” to help ease you back into the scene.
Observe your date, and judge accordingly.
This is an easy tip that too many divorced people ignore. You’ve been through it, and now is not the time to make excuses for anyone else. If a date is rude to staff, doesn’t text you back, or doesn’t make you feel especially good, drop them and move on.
It’s not unheard of for divorced people to begin dating someone who reminds them of their ex. If you’re aware of this, you can keep history from repeating itself.