7 Ways to Make Your Relationships After Divorce Better Than Your Marriage

holding handsYou've been divorced for a while, and you finally feel ready to jump back in -- you're ready to find love again. Or you feel like you might be ready ... on good days. I think it's easy to feel scared about starting over with someone new. How do you avoid making the same mistakes? How do you make sure your next relationship is better than your marriage was? Here are a few tips for finding -- and keeping -- love after divorce.


1. Beware of seeing people through your "post-divorce goggles," says family therapist Dr. Stephanie Manes. "Remember your vulnerability can cloud your judgment." Those goggles could make some people look better if you're desperately lonely -- or worse, if you're determined to avoid repeating mistakes -- than they really are.

2. Take things slowly. Dr. Manes cautions against rushing into a relationship. "A small dating rejection or disappointment can feel like a blow from a wrecking ball when you are still trying to heal from a divorce."

3. Be open-minded. Do you have a type? Let go a little and be open to dating different kinds of people. "Believe it or not, you might actually make a new friend, even if they don't turn out to be a soul mate," says Dr. Manes.

4. Make a list of what you need. Family counselor Dr. Laurie Moore recommends making a list of what you need most in a mate -- everything. It doesn't matter how long the list is, or what's on it, as long as everything is truly important. "Ask yourself, which of these are non-negotiable? Which of these could I compromise?" (She details how to create this list in her book Intelligent Love.)

5. Be patient and hold out. Once you've made that list, don't settle for someone who does not meet your requirements. "Sooner or later you'll meet someone who meets your criteria and you share strong feelings with," Dr. Moore says.

6. Think about the role you played in your last relationship. It's important to learn from the past. If you feel you were the wronged party in your marriage, you still need to think about patterns of behavior that contributed to your unhappiness. And then, rather than being negative and blaming, "find a positive, playful way to change your role." (Dr. Moore explains more in Creative Intimacy.)

7. Get help to heal. If you have deep wounds from your marriage, you need to get professional help to heal from them. Leave those wounds untended, and they can have a negative impact on your next relationships.

Some helpful food for thought here. I can say from personal experience that I did a lot of this work (in different ways) after my divorce. And I'm glad I did. I think it made a difference.

What else do you think you need in order to have healthy relationships after a divorce?


Image via Grant/Flickr

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