When you begin dating after a divorce, there are three things to remember when falling in love after divorce. It’s normal to not be ready right away, and there’s no “right” amount of time when you should be ready. It’s also ok to be ready sooner than someone else you know was. Ultimately, it’s important to be happy in a relationship with yourself before falling in love after divorce.
It’s Normal Not to be Ready
First and foremost, I think it’s important for people to know that it’s normal if you’re not ready to get back into the dating world. Just as important, there really isn’t any right amount of time when you should be ready. Everyone’s situation is going to be different and only you will know when you’re ready. It’s common, however for dating to begin in stages post-divorce.
There are some people who dive right into it while others may dip their toes in here and there. There really isn’t a right way to start, just be aware that you may be interested in falling in love after divorce and you may not, and both are normal reactions. Depending on who might have initiated the divorce and whether you’ve been thinking about it for a while or whether you felt blindsided will all affect how your steps in moving forward. It’s also perfectly ok to be ready to date but want to keep things casual. We often hear from clients and friends that have been divorced that they thought they were ready and realized they were not. And it’s ok to tell yourself and the other person that you’re not in a place where you’re ready to fall in love again. Being honest with yourself and others is all that matters. It may feel like you take one step forward and two steps back.
There’s No “Normal” Amount of Time to be Ready
Did you think that you were interested in falling in love after divorce because your friend who was divorced only a month before you is already back out, dating and has fallen in love after their divorce only to find out that you actually weren’t ready and you needed more time? Just because someone else is ready doesn’t mean that you must be. Some signs that might show you that you aren’t ready are:
- Spending the whole time you’re on a date talking about your ex
- Thinking about something your ex did or didn’t do and getting angry for no reason.
- Comparing the people you date to your ex.
- Frequently texting or calling your ex (not including co-parenting communication)
- Talking negatively about your ex often
- Feeling guilty or anxious about being out on a date
- Feeling triggered if your date does something that reminds you of your ex
While it’s totally normal to experience some of these at some point, they may be red flags that indicate to you that you may just not be in a position to fall in love with someone new. Try not to force yourself into doing something that you’re just not ready for. It may take 3 months, or it could take 3 years (or anything in between or even longer) but you’ll know when you’re ready.
Learn to be happy in a relationship with yourself first
The biggest mistake I see when falling in love after divorce has nothing to do with the amount of time it takes before they do but everything to do with jumping into another relationship without first learning to be happy with yourself. While not everyone needs a therapist (although I do believe strongly that everyone could benefit from a therapist) it can be very helpful to work with a therapist to understand what your role was at the end of your last marriage and to learn how to be happy in a relationship with yourself. If you’re not happy with yourself, it’s impossible to be happy with someone else. Far too often I see clients jump into new relationships before they were ready and before they truly looked at what had gone wrong in their last relationship and figured out how not to repeat the same mistakes.
Like Lizzo’s song Soulmate, “True love ain’t something you can buy yourself, True love finally happens when you by yourself.” Truly learning to love yourself and be happy in a relationship with yourself means that when you do find that person that you want to fall in love with after your divorce that you’ll be ready to do so without compromising yourself.
When you do find that special someone, it is such an incredible feeling and since you’ve learned to be happy with yourself first you can thrive in your new relationship. You can move forward and appreciate their love in a way you previously never did. Are you going through a divorce or dealing with a co-parenting issue? Contact West Coast Family Mediation at (858) 736-2411 today.
by: Amanda Singer