Sooner or later most people start dating again and they often ask if they should wait a year to date after their divorce. I knew that Debbi was in a relationship so I asked her to talk about her experience with dating after divorce. Here’s Debbi:
I’m not married. I’m dating a wonderful gentleman. We’ve been dating for two years now and it’s wonderful to have a man in my life that I truly love.
You don’t go from being married and turn around and get married again. You don’t want to go from one relationship and jump into another relationship. The healing process takes time.
I would tell anyone looking to start dating after divorce not to be in a hurry. Wait at least one year.
I think it was year four when my ex came back and I started getting into the dating scene, because all of a sudden I had weekends open, and I was interested. I went on occasional dates, and I took advantage of that time and did the online dating routine. What became so evident then was that I knew who I was as a person.
What really stuck out to me was that if I met a gentleman who was not divorced for more than one year, they were still so stuck on their marriage that an evening couldn’t go by without them bringing up their ex. It doesn’t mean they’d talk negatively but they would talk about that time when this happened or whatever, and it was like they hadn’t healed yet.
I actually think it takes people a minimum of one year and probably more like two years before they really even think about getting into a relationship. So it didn’t take me long to decide I wasn’t going to date a man who had not been divorced for more than one year. Separated is not the same thing. They had to be legally divorced plus one year.
I don’t think that there’s one true answer for anything, I think that’s more of a guideline. But I had to do a lot of changes, and that was my journey. Waiting that long was absolutely the right thing for me to do, but I can tell you that I don’t advocate for other women to follow my path, unless it’s evident that they need to do that.
I think what people need to do, men or women, they need to take a look at the reason why they want to date because if the reason why you’re wanting to go out and have somebody is because you’re lonely, then that means you don’t know who you are.
Some women who I work with have been divorced less than one year and they just like to go out to have this social interaction. I don’t have a problem with that, that’s fine, but understand that that’s what you’re going out for. It’s not to find Mr. Right, fall in love and get married within the next year. If someone says to me “I’m lonely and I don’t know what to do with my time,” I say,
“Well, you don’t know who you are then because you’re not comfortable in your own skin and you need to find that external factor to make you feel whole, and if you need someone to make you feel whole, it’s not going to work long-term.”
For me, it was seven years before “Mr. Right” came into my life. It might not be seven years for other women, but I needed time to heal and to get to know who I was, because once the alcohol was removed, I realized I didn’t know who I was. It took time for me to figure that out and to figure out my talents, my strengths and to attract men to me that really resonated with my heart.
It took a while, but I’m telling you it’s a time I would never change. It was an amazing journey and now I’ve got a wonderful man in my life today. We’re soul mates.
The Divorce Coach Says
I agree with Debbie that there are few hard and fast rules about dating after divorce. You could be like Swati who said she could tell where she was in her healing process by the type of man she was dating. You could be like me and need a dating coaching program because you’re interested in dating but have no idea where to start. Regardless of how soon you start dating, I do think it’s smart not to commit to a serious relationship within a year of your divorce.
While there are no hard and fast rules about dating, it will help you find the relationship you’re looking for if you figure out guidelines that work for you, such as not dating anyone who hasn’t been legally divorced for at least a year or expecting the man to always pay on the first date. What’s important is maybe not so much the guidelines themselves but your reasoning behind the guideline and what breaching that guideline might mean to you. With this understanding, you’ll be able to decide if you should revise any of your guidelines based on your experience.