“Instead of saying, “I’m damaged, I’m broken, I have trust issues” say “I’m healing, I’m rediscovering myself, I’m starting over.” -Horacio Jones
“It’s never too late to start over!” -Lynne Gentry
**I originally posted this on October 19, 2011.
So dating? What fun? I have been out of the dating race for almost 8 years now. That happens when you meet the guy you are going to marry at 17 years old. You don’t get much dating experience and at the time you are happy with it because my goodness you have met the man you are going to spend the rest of your life with, right? WRONG! Now I kind of wish that I had more experience dating because I’m back in the dating pool and frankly I’m frightened!
So I take the usual first step.
Or so I think it is. Really I am just making this up as I go along. I go on a few dates with guys I already knew. You know the guys I knew but never gave a second thought to because I was married. Turns out I wasn’t missing much. Ugh! Very cute-very boring. Extremely attractive and by golly he knows so too……isn’t afraid to tell you all about how great he is. You can read the rest of this post here.
Fast forward to 2019, I am so glad that I don’t have to worry about the dating world anymore. However, I have a few friends that are having to deal with this very situation. You don’t go into marriage preparing for divorce, so what happens when life throws you a curve ball? How do you know that you are ready to start dating again after a divorce? Here is what I learned:
9 Signs You Are Ready to Start Dating After Divorce
1. You have forgiven your ex.
A wave of emotions can come along with dating after divorce. When you think about your ex, do you feel angry or at peace? Bringing resentment into a new relationship won’t be healthy for you or the person you are dating. It isn’t fair for you to constantly judge this new person by the actions of your ex. You don’t want them to assume you will cheat just because their ex did, right? So why would you do that to them? You can not fully move onto a new relationship until you have forgiven and moved forward from your previous relationship.
Psychology Today shared 3 ways to break free of your past relationship baggage. You can read that article here for a little inspiration on letting go of your baggage.
2. You are no longer angry about your divorce.
Dating after divorce is no easy feat. You have to make sure you are ready mentally. This almost goes hand in hand with the first sign, but you can forgive your ex and still be angry over the divorce. I know that I was very disappointed in myself when I was going through my divorce, and this disappointment led to anger.
I came from divorced parents, I had vowed to never get a divorce because I saw what it did to my family. My divorce made me feel like I let myself down, my family down, and even my ex down. I had to come to the realization that I had given it 100% and that some things in life can’t be foreseen. Forgiving yourself and letting go is just as important as forgiving your ex.
If you haven’t sought out counseling after the divorce, now may be a good time to look into it. DO NOT feel embarrassed to ask for some outside help. There is nothing wrong with counseling. When you go on your first date, you want to be able to talk to the person about your divorce with a level head.
3. You love yourself and feel worthy to be loved.
It can be scary to start dating after divorce and it can play with your self-esteem. Divorce can cause you to feel unloved or unworthy if this is how you feel then you shouldn’t be dating yet. Your self-worth should not come from another person. You need to feel worthy and not place that responsibility on a partner. I recently wrote about 11 tips to help you love yourself, you can read that here.
4. You don’t find yourself living in the past.
Dating after divorce is all about moving forward. Your divorce can offer you ways to learn from your past, and you shouldn’t overlook those lessons. However, once you have learned from them you need to let the past go. If you find yourself constantly wondering what if or reliving what you could have done differently then it is obvious that you aren’t over the divorce and you aren’t ready to move on yet.
5. You have stopped blaming yourself for the divorce.
I went through periods where I felt like the divorce was all my fault and if only I had done more or said more. The reality is even when others told me that I had already given more than enough, I still offered him counseling and he didn’t take it. In the beginning, I believed that maybe if I had offered it sooner then it would have worked out differently, but I know now that our relationship wasn’t important enough to him or he would have taken up the offer to work on our marriage.
Acknowledge that you made some mistakes, but do not let them define your future. If you still aren’t able to look at the divorce in a healthy way, without putting all the blame on your shoulders, or your ex’s shoulders, then you aren’t ready to start dating.
6. You are happy and emotionally secure on your own.
You know that you are in a good state of mind if you realize that you don’t need a relationship to make you happy. If you are finally in a place that you feel secure enough to be on your own then I believe you are strong enough to start dating after a divorce, if you want to. You might enjoy a little time on your own.
7. You are content in reality.
Dating after divorce shouldn’t be looked at as a fairy tale. I think one of the biggest problems we have in relationships is this unrealistic image. We think all relationships/marriages are going to be happy ever after, but the truth is that it takes a LOT of work to get to the happy ever after. Deal with the reality of it. Deal with the fact your marriage didn’t work, learn from it, and realize that you can be happy in another relationship and you can find a marriage that will last this time around but don’t kid yourself into thinking it will be easy and end with a glass slipper.
8. You look to the future with joy and anticipation.
Ask yourself what is your first reaction when thinking about dating after divorce? Are you excited? Are you anxious? Do you still fear what the future holds, whether it is about dating or not dating? Do you fear the thought of living on your own? If you aren’t looking to the future with mostly joy and anticipation maybe you should take a little more time to heal.
9. You want to date and are excited at the thought of dating again.
The big question is, even after all these signs, do you even WANT to start dating after your divorce? I can give you all the tips, signs, “rules” in the world, but if you don’t want to start dating it won’t matter what advice you are given.
Love yourself. Listen to your heart. You will know what to do. I wish you all the happiness in the world on this new adventure.
“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31