This is especially true if it’s been years since you were last single and you’ve never tried using any dating apps before. Even the thought of putting yourself back out there can be overwhelming.
Recently separated folks who participated in a 2019 survey about dating post-divorce by Worthy report experiencing mixed emotions — including scared, insecure, overwhelmed, excited, and hopeful. However you feel right now, know that your feelings are valid. And it’s possible to develop a healthy relationship with a new partner who reignites that flame inside you.
Whenever you’re ready to move on and get back out into the dating world, keep these 10 rules to dating after divorce in mind to have the most successful dates post-separation.
1. Take time to heal
According to a 2014 study published in Couple & Family Psychology, common reasons for divorce include a lack of commitment, infidelity, too much fighting, and financial issues. On top of losing your ex, which could be a lot to handle alone, all of these situations can be emotionally taxing,
However long it takes you to heal from your divorce is totally fine. Focus on your well-being first before dipping your toes into the dating pool. Take time to find yourself again, recover from any grief and loss, and build up the confidence to date again. If you feel like you need assistance in your healing process, an online therapist might help with that.
2. Get over your ex
Everyone heals from breakups differently. Whereas some people can immediately start dating after divorce, others may take months or years to feel comfortable even thinking about the idea of getting into a new partnership.
You don’t want to enter a rebound relationship or hurt anyone’s feelings, including your own, so make sure that you’re feeling good and over your ex first before seeing other people. Your next special someone is out there. Meet them with an open, ready heart.
3. Talk to your kids
If you share kids with your ex and depending on their age, it’s important to be honest with them about your divorce and your dating life. Have an open discussion about the fact that you’re open to new relationships down the line. No one will ever “replace” their other parent, but they may eventually meet someone new who you fall in love with.
This doesn’t mean you’ll bring home every person to meet them or tell them about every date you’re going on. But you don’t want to suddenly surprise them or catch them off-guard when it’s finally time to introduce them to a potential significant other.
4. Be open about your past
When you do finally start dating again, you’ll want to be honest with your dates about your recent separation and what you want at the current moment. This will help to clue them in to where you’re coming from and where you want to be going, and allow both of you to decide if you’re a good match for each other in terms of aligned intentions.
If your date isn’t happy that you were recently married, you’ll know that they’re not a good fit for you. On the other hand, people who are supportive of your healing process and dating timeline may be worthy contenders for healthy, happy relationships (however long they last).
5. Beware of red flags
If you lived with your ex and were consistently physical with them for years, you might feel like you’re missing connection and being intimate with somebody after your divorce. But be careful: Remember that some people can seem too good to be true, especially when the time comes that you really want to find love again.
Take note of anyone who comes across as too charming or tries to take advantage of your vulnerability as a newly single person. Keep an eye out for anyone who says all the right things, bombards you with gifts and over-the-top behaviors within a short time frame of dating, divulges or begs for too much personal information too soon, or exploits your kindness for weakness. Any of these signs can be a big, blaring red flag. These 10 important questions can also help you get to know your potential match better.
6. Try different dating apps
Once you’re ready to date, online dating will be your new best friend for meeting new people. Whether you’re considering long-term relationships again or you just want one-night stands, you can find whatever and whoever you’re looking for by using a related dating site.
For example, if you’re over 50 years old, you might want to consider trying a site like SilverSingles. When you’re interested in entering another serious relationship, you can hop on Match.com to find other folks who are ready for commitment, too. There are also different dating apps for groups of people with certain identities, like Black dating apps or LGBTQ+ dating sites. Depending on your needs and wants, there’s an app out there for you.
7. Date at your own pace
There’s no rush. Take it slow with new partners, and date on the timeline that feels best for you. If going on one date per week works for you, then go for it. If you’d rather only date once in a while —whenever you have the time — that’s great, too. Honor and respect your needs and boundaries as you start actively dating.
8. Keep an open mind
Things may have changed in the dating world since the last time you were single. And your partner preferences might be different now, too. Keep an open mind as you date when it comes to potential partners, types of relationships, and your overall limitations. And remember that it’s okay to reflect on these changes and adjust as necessary as time goes on and you heal from your breakup.
9. Take care of yourself
Be gentle with yourself and prioritize self-care while you put yourself out there. This might mean taking a break in between dates to recharge your energy. This could also be something as simple as taking a nice bath after a rough first date or journaling about the experience when you get home. Whatever self-care means to you, be sure to take good care of yourself while dating after divorce, whether you just started or it’s been a few months.
10. Have fun!
Even though it comes with its own set of challenges, dating post divorce can be an amazing experience for you. You’re single after a long time and free to do whatever you want whenever you please. Enjoy this time to live life and date on your own terms for the first time after being in a serious relationship for years. After all, why date if it’s not going to be fun for you? You might enter another relationship someday, so make the most of the ride, and have fun now.
Enjoy the process of finding connections
If you remember to use these 10 rules for dating after divorce, you can increase your chances of entering happy, healthy future relationships. Whatever you do, be sure to take care of yourself, explore different options for meeting new people, keep an open mind and heart, and enjoy the process along the way. If you do, you may just find a new amazing lover that meets your wants and needs sooner than later.