How to Start Dating After Divorce

Cheerful couple on a date at a restaurant

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Like all major life changes, going through a divorce can be a very stressful time. No matter how long you were married, the act of parting from the person in life you may have been closest to can be jarring, hard, and heartbreaking. Hopefully, you went through the process assured that it was the right move, asked yourself all the necessary questions beforehand, and talked to your kids thoroughly about it.

Chances are, once the heavy emotions from the divorce have lightened, you may be interested in dating again. And chances also are, that's something you haven't done in quite a while! You might be at a loss on where to begin.

Before you start dating, learn about how you can discern if you're ready to date, and once you are, how you can go about meeting new people.

How to Know If You're Ready to Date

Thinking about dipping your toes in the dating pool? Before you start dating after divorce, the most important thing is that you're confident in your readiness to do so. Here are a few important questions to ask yourself to make sure it's the right time for you to begin this new adventure.

Have You Grieved and Processed?

There is no one right way to go through a divorce, but for everyone, it's necessary to take time to work through the end of the relationship. Perhaps you've gone to therapy, attended online support groups for divorcing people, or just spent a lot of time working through it yourself.

Dating should begin after you've invested this time in recovering, not before. That's because waiting to date until you have thoroughly grieved and processed your divorce is the only way to be open and available to someone new.

How Settled Are You About Your Divorce?

Because having grieved and processed your divorce before dating will yield better results once you do, it's also good to be past any extreme emotions around it.

You may not want to start dating if you are separated but may get back together soon, or if you are still hoping to reconcile with your ex. Dating will work best if you are comfortable with the fact that your marriage has ended. If you aren't there yet, that's OK. However, it would help to wait until you are before you begin dating.

Are You Clear About What You're Looking For?

You're older than when you last were seeking a partner, so undoubtedly, much has changed about what you want in one. To date successfully, you should have a solid idea about what you are looking for. Before you begin dating, you should feel secure in knowing:

  • Your red flags and deal-breakers for future partners
  • Qualities you prefer in others
  • Methods and styles of communication you do and don't jive with
  • Whether or not you're OK with someone who is currently raising children
  • An updated version of your type, factoring in your current age
  • Whether you want a serious relationship or not
  • How you feel about dating someone who is dating other people

How to Meet People

Once you have grieved and processed your relationship, feel settled about it, and are clear about what you're looking for, you'll be in a good place to start dating. You may be wondering how, exactly, that can happen. Here are a few common ways to begin meeting new people.

Dating Apps

Using an app to find dates is often a preferred approach. Know that apps differ in how they work and focus on: ones like Match are more designed for people seeking long-term relationships, whereas Tinder is a better choice if you want a casual new connection. Choose the one(s) you sign up for based on what you're seeking, and set up your profile in an honest way.

Be upfront about what you're looking for so that you match only with people also seeking a similar type of arrangement.

Choose flattering photos, and make sure they're current. Set dates up at public meeting places only without disclosing where you live. Consider withholding your phone number in advance of the date. Know that there are dating scammers out there in cyberland, so avoid giving away personal information.

Community Events

Another easy option for finding people to date is in areas of life where you're already involved. Maybe you regularly attend your child's sporting events or a neighborhood block party. These can be great places to meet people for dating.

If you're feeling shy about approaching strangers, let your friends know in advance that you're looking to date. Ask them if they'd be comfortable introducing you to a single friend or two of theirs who they think might be a fit for you.

Classes

Breakups often inspire new hobbies and interests. Free to discover the things we love on our own, maybe people find that their interests have changed from what they were in the past.

If there's something that you've wanted to try doing, look up a local class for it. Classes could include photography, dance, cooking, or anything you'd like to pursue further. Then, keep an open mind in your class about meeting new people to date. The bonus is that you know from the start you share a common interest.

Meetups

There are apps like Meetup that pair you with activities you enjoy and people with whom you can do them. This is an excellent way to meet new people for dating, and some meetups are specifically for single or divorced people.

Choose an app that services your area, and attend gatherings that you'll enjoy even if you don't meet someone new. Often, meetup groups exchange messages online between meetings, which is great if you're also looking for new friends or acquaintances with similar hobbies.

Tips for Going Out on Dates

Once you've found someone you're interested in meeting, the next step is to meet in person. Here is some guidance for how to go about dating someone new.

Trust Your Instincts

Remember, our instincts generally serve us well. If something feels off about a person, your best call is to abort that specific dating mission. Never do anything that feels outside of your safety zone. Only consent to activities you absolutely want to do. Listen to your gut about when to meet someone, whether or not to keep seeing them, when to tell your kids, and anything else that arises.

Being single is the perfect opportunity to know yourself and your own needs and wants better than ever before. So, take this time to get in touch with your instincts and learn to be secure in listening to them.

Take Things Slow

Whether your marriage was a whirlwind romance or a slow boil that took years of dating before engagement, it's a good idea to take things slowly when dating after divorce.

You might experience emotions you didn't plan on, and you might not be as over your ex as you think. Taking things slowly in a new relationship gives you the needed space to do any personal work as you go, whereas jumping in and then realizing you need space will lead you to jump right back out of that situation.

Know that there is no need to hurry anything along. Meet people at your own pace, and get to know them at your own pace, too.

Be Upfront About Kids

It's good to let your children know that you're looking to meet someone new. That said, it can be confusing for them to meet new people you are dating. Before introducing a new partner to your child, it's best to make sure they are someone you'll be seeing long-term.

The best way to be sure of this is by already having an established relationship with them. Experts tend to recommend a minimum of six months of dating someone before introducing them to your kids. Always be upfront about having kids, but take your time to establish a relationship between your new dating partner and your children.

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