Dating after divorce is different for everyone. Some people start dating right when they decide to separate and or move out, perhaps because their marriage has been over for years and they have felt alone for such a long time. Others wait months or even years, due to the trauma or shock of the divorce, because they lack self-confidence, or possibly because they just need time to heal.
There are so many variables in dating after divorce and what the right time is. And, there are no right or wrong answers.
Again, every divorced person has a different timetable on when he or she feels comfortable in dating after divorce. That said, here are 10 signs you will know you are ready to start dating:
1. You find yourself thinking less about the past and what happened. You stop trying to figure out what went wrong and you are more focused on today.
2. You feel like you are in a routine. A good one—not the come home from work, crack open a beer or pour a glass of wine, sit in front of the TV and be sad, but rather work is feeling productive, you are enjoying time spent with your kids, and single life is becoming not just bearable, but actually good.
3. You see a man or woman walking down the street and you feel hopeful and happy (and majorly attracted to the person.)
4. Someone asks if they can set you up on a blind date and you are not disgusted by the thought.
5. You feel good about yourself — more confident and much better than you have in the past.
6. You meet someone and you actually feel curious to get to know him or her more. You’re not even sure what you want, you just know you’d like to know more about this person.
7. You are accepting what happened and you have stopped blaming yourself or your ex. You have decided to focus more on this new life—not what he or she did to you or what you did to add to the demise of your marriage.
8. You are less angry and sad, and find yourself more at peace with what happened.
9. You like yourself.
10. You have physical desire for sex.
The thing is, dating after divorce in my opinion really does depend on who you meet, combined with where you are in your divorce healing process.
You could meet the perfect person, but the timing is off because you just aren’t ready to date yet. Or, you could really feel ready to date and go out there and not meet anyone who feels like a good match.
The advice I would give to anyone asking how he knows if he is ready for dating after divorce yet is:
1. Don’t put pressure on yourself to date. Just wait until you want to. If you force yourself, it won’t go well.
2. Go out with people as platonic friends. Again, no pressure. Just go out with people to enjoy someone’s company and to make a new friend. The best relationships start out that way.
3. When you start dating after divorce, don’t feel guilty—like you are doing something wrong, or that because you have young kids you aren’t a good parent if you have a boyfriend or girlfriend. That is just a waste of energy, and unproductive.
4. Let dating be fun. After what was probably the roughest time in your life, you deserve to enjoy yourself and just be happy getting to know new people.
I can’t count the number of newly separated or newly divorced men and women who exclaim, “I’ll never love anyone like I loved my wife/husband ever again.” And they end up falling madly in love. For some it takes months, for others it takes years. But it does happen if the person wants that. Just be patient, don’t rush into anything (although who are we kidding? We’ve all done that) and let yourself be happy. You deserve it!
Jackie Pilossoph is the creator of her website, Divorced Girl Smiling. The author of her novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationship column, Love Essentially, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press. Pilossoph lives with her family in Chicago. Oh, and she’s divorced.