10 Things Every Divorced Woman Should Do Before Starting to Date Again

Adriana Velez | Sep 10, 2015 Love & Sex

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How long after a divorce should one wait before dating again? The answer is different for everyone, but there are some important things all folks need to work through first if they want to avoid the dreaded "rebound" relationship -- and yet more pain. Thinking about getting back out there? We spoke with a relationship expert who gave us some of the best tips for knowing when the time is right to get back into the dating saddle again. 

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We asked Tina B. Tessina, PhD (aka "Dr. Romance"), psychotherapist and author of a new book about how to celebrate differences in a relationship, for her advice on knowing when one is ready to love again -- and how to start dating.

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Dr. Tessina tells us women actually do better in their post-divorce relationships than men do because we actually bother grieving, processing, and contemplating until we feel ready. That said, she recommends spending at least a year before starting to dating again, and that's the key word: spend. One isn't just waiting around for her pain to fade away on its own. This is a year (or more) in which a woman does some serious work.

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  • 1. Give your marriage a proper sendoff.

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    "If you gave it your best shot, and you know it's over, don't waste time in resentment and anger; it's self-destructive," Dr. Tessina says. "Let go." But don't just bury your feelings, either. She recommends grieving, through journaling, talking with friends, crying, or contemplating alone. "Have a 'letting go' ceremony with close friends, and say good-bye to your married life. Put reminders away for a while." It's these rituals that will help you let go.

  • 2. Process your marriage.

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    That's where you take an objective look at your relationship and analyze it to see what you can learn. "You're looking at the clues that indicated, for example, that the previous partner wasn’t a good choice, or that poor relating skills, unrealistic expectations, or lack of commitment created the problems that killed the romance," Dr. Tessina says. Be sure to pay special attention to the role you played in your marriage -- this is not about ruminating over how he wronged you. "Once this processing is done, they will be better prepared to make a better choice next time."

  • 3. Connect with friends.

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    "This is an important time to have your friends or family around you," Dr. Tessina says. "You need support. Don't isolate." Even if you'd rather be alone, make time for your closest friends, the people you trust. "They'll help you heal, and remind you that you still have people who love you." 

  • 4. Seek professional help.

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    Working with a therapist or counselor can help you through the post-divorce transition and start building your new life. "A professional viewpoint will help you move from past to present, and plan for the future," Dr. Tessina says.

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  • 5. Get your life in order.

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    Through the divorce process, be sure you secure your rights and your fair share of assets so you can avoid feelings of resentment later on. Then try something new, whether it's a class or a career. "Do whatever is necessary to rebuild your confidence."

  • 6. Make sure the kids are all right.

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    "If you have children, make sure they have a stable environment before you worry about dating," Dr. Tessina warns. 

    Once you've spent a year or more processing your marriage and rebooting your life, then you can start thinking about dating again.  

  • 7. Get a life.

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    Make sure you're already living your best, most fun life. "Even before you're ready to risk a new relationship, you can begin to get out and do things that interest you," Dr. Tessina recommends. "Make your life as fun and social as you can without a relationship." She urges the newly single to create social networks based on interests and activities you enjoy. You'll be happy no matter what, but it also increases your chances of eventually creating a healthy relationship with someone new.

  • 8. Make new friends.

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    Dr. Tessina says this is much better than looking for love in all the wrong places. "Singles activities, online dating sites, and singles bars are all riddled with problems, and take you in the wrong direction," she says. Instead, explore your social connections. "You'll get to know all kinds of people, and out of these people someone will soon stand out, and you'll have the advantage of already knowing each other before you decide you want to date."

    Not only that, you're more attractive to others when they see you engaged in something you have in common. 

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  • 9. Pay attention.

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    Don't go Netflix and chill with the first guy who catches your fancy! Dr. Tessina suggests getting to know a crush before you take things further. "Meeting your new love by making friends who share the same interests gives you a great opportunity to observe the character of the person before you declare your interest."

  • 10. Vow to date the old-fashioned way.

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    Dr. Tessina says in this media-saturated age, it's especially important to look beyond the superficial and build a relationship based on character. Dating, as in social contact with someone outside the bedroom, is how you develop what she calls "relationship infrastructure" in an "organic, natural fashion, as opposed to forcing it." That's how you build a long-lasting, reality-based relationship. 

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