Some people dive right back into dating after divorce, others are more cautious and some of us need more of a push. That push has much to do with what you need to do to be ready to date. Being ready to date is key. When you’re ready you’ll be less intimidated, you’ll be more confident and most importantly, you’ll be less likely to take no as a rejection. That all means that dating after divorce will be less scary and more exciting.
In this episode of Conversations About Divorce I am joined once again by Sandy Weiner from LastFirstDate to discuss:
- what being emotionally ready to date means
- how to tell if you’re dating too soon
- why dating should be a fun, learning process
- how to make sure you’re physically ready to date
- what you should be picky about
and lots more. Listen in or keep reading to learn what you need to do to be ready to date…
Work Through Your Stuff
Nobody gets divorced without having some baggage. Before you get involved in another relationship, it’s critical that you’ve worked through in counseling, in therapy or in a divorce recovery program topics such as why your marriage ended, how you contributed to the end of your marriage, and why you chose to be with your ex. Understanding all of these is not about assigning blame or even regrets for what could have been done differently. The high value takeaway is learning the different choices you can make in the future so you don’t repeat the same experience.
Love Yourself First
Most people’s self-esteem takes a beating during the end of a marriage and starting to date before you’ve restored your self-confidence is setting yourself up for a negative experience that could further damage your perception of self. We want you to be dating from a position of strength, not from neediness. That comes in part from being comfortable with knowing your own needs and being comfortable making your needs a priority. It comes from loving yourself which is all about self-acceptance. So again, do the work to forgive yourself for what happened during the marriage, know that divorce does not define you and start seeing yourself as your best friend does.
Be Emotionally Detached From Your Ex
If you’re still angry about your divorce and feeling the victim, you’re not ready to date. If you’re still harboring thoughts about reconciling with your ex, you’re not ready. If there are behaviors or actions in others that trigger a reaction from you because it’s what your ex used to do, you’re not ready.
You may think you want to date because it’s going to help you forget your ex but when your ex still occupies your mental real estate, a date will quickly be able to detect that and likely won’t be interested in more dates, never mind an ongoing relationship.
See Dating As A Learning Process
A good place to start dating after divorce is dating for fun as opposed to for keeps. Going out on dates can be a fun way to learn or rediscover who you are, what’s fun for you and what you’re looking for in a long-term partner. If it’s been a while since you’ve dated, it’s also helpful to remind yourself that being skilled at dating doesn’t just happen. It comes with practice and experience. You’re going to make mistakes and that’s all part of the learning.
But … Sandy Weiner cautions against getting physical too quickly. Having sex with someone often leads to an emotional attachment and that may keep you in a relationship that isn’t a good fit for you.
Get A Makeover
This is not about turning you into someone you aren’t and it’s not about making you perfect. It is about making the most of your appearance. Some people do work with an image consultant for this but if that’s not in your budget, you can do this yourself. Start with an updated haircut and a few new outfits that fit you well. Updated colors and styles can take years off your appearance and feeling good about the way you look will add to your self-confidence. And remember, your undergarments need updating too.
“A lack of confidence is one of the biggest turnoffs in dating,” said Weiner, “It all comes from within.”
Learn To Communicate Directly
Being able to communicate openly and directly will help enormously in finding a new partner. You start by trusting your instincts and then when something happens between you and a date that makes you uncomfortable, you need to have an honest dialogue, without drama. How that interaction goes helps you assess where your relationship is headed.
A sign that you still have work to do in this area is if the parent-child dynamic was at work within your marriage and you haven’t learned the basics of adult-to-adult communication. If you need some clues as to where your communication skills are now, replay some of the conversations you have with your kids or with your ex. Are you being passive-aggressive? Are you expecting them to read your mind?
Honor Your Personality Type
Know your personality type and in what environments you thrive and what makes you cringe or withdraw. What’s your level of energy? How much alone time or independence do you like? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? There are no right or wrong answers to this but knowing this about yourself will help you figure out how you can enjoy spending time with someone who’s different from you. It’ll help you find the common ground and if you can’t find common ground, being comfortable with who you are will help you walk away.
Have Realistic Expectations
You may truly desire to be in a committed, exclusive relationship but expecting to find that person within a few dates is simply not realistic. And it’s not realistic or healthy to look for someone who is going to rescue you from whatever it is that is keeping you up at night.
Weiner recommends changing your perspective from one of deciding to one of discovery. Instead of being in a rush to decide if you can be in a relationship with a date, take your time to truly get to know the person. That also means not being in rush to be exclusive.
It’s good to be picky; just be picky about the right things. If you have a long list of physical criteria such as height, weight, hair color, age, it’s not going to happen. What you do need to be striving for is similar values and beliefs, a common worldview.
“Most great relationships come in surprise packages,” said Weiner. “People are picky in the wrong areas and aren’t picky enough in the areas that matter.”