If you've been married a long time - heck, even for just a few years - it's likely you've long forgotten how to date.
Coping with divorce while attempting to get back onto the playing field can be a daunting task.
So much has changed in the years you were married. Do you want to date again? Should you try out the waters? And if you DO want to get back out there, when is a good time to do that?
It's hard to know. I know this because I'm going through a divorce.
Here's what I've learned about dating after divorce (and trust me, I'll keep you in the loop once I really get out there again. Or, rather, IF I get out there again).
1) Divorce is a loss. It signifies the end of one life and the beginning of another. Before you jump back into a new relationship, make sure you're on your way to being healed.
2) Don't hide what your life once was. Maybe you have kids. Maybe you share custody of your dog. Either way, every potential suitor should be informed of where you've come from and where you're going.
3) Allow yourself to begin dating - or thinking about dating - only when you're ready. No matter what you do in regards to dating during or after a divorce, you're going to get flak: "you're wallowing" or "you're moving on too soon." This is your new life, remember, so you live it on your own terms.
4) Make sure you're comfortable being on your own. This may take some time, especially if you've been married awhile. But you're going to HAVE to be comfortable being alone or you're going to come across as "too needy" or "too clingy."
5) When you meet someone and hit it off, take it slowly. It's easy to transfer all the loving feelings you once had for your partner to someone else. That's not healthy - it's codependent.
6) If you don't feel ready to date, don't allow anyone to push you into a blind date. Only you will know what's right for you.
7) Go out in groups of friends. Having a support system in place when you're going through a divorce is incredibly important - and these same people can serve as "wing men" for you when you go out.
8) Make sure your self-esteem is getting back to where it was before your marriage or divorce (especially in cases of emotional abuse or abandonment). Feeling good about yourself will allow you to attract people who will notice your best qualities, not those who will bring you down.
9) Keep your social schedule as busy as you can handle - don't isolate yourself - and make sure some of your plans involve going out to places where there are a lot of people.
10) Make a list of qualities you look for in a partner and qualities you offer a partner, and evaluate potential suitors using that list. It can help you choose healthy romantic relationships in the future.
Any other advice for dating post-divorce?
Image via frankh/Flickr