After divorce, life can be somewhat chaotic. You suddenly realize everything is not how it used to be. Your finances might have taken a hit, your “during the marriage friends” are divided and your looks and health may have declined while you were nestled in the security of a long-term relationship.
If you that’s you, then keep reading for my personal recommendations to support you with feeling empowered and getting back to dating after divorce.
Take Time to Heal
Jumping into another relationship or the dating scene will be a challenge unless you’ve completely released the hurt, heartbreak and any other niggles you’ve still got from your marriage. From my experience with clients, taking a minimum two-year sabbatical works wonders, to help you gain closure on the marriage and get to know yourself as an individual again. To accelerate the healing, I also recommend working with a professional life and relationship coach or therapist. This is a BIG life change and even the most resilient amongst you would benefit from an expert by your side to accelerate the process.
Your Social Network
As I mentioned, an unfortunate aspect of divorce is the “division of friends”. You get certain friends, and your ex gets the other set. You may also find some couples are no longer including or inviting you to join them socially. This isn’t so much a concern for men, but sadly, a newly single woman can be perceived as a threat to other women. Rather than dwell on this, gather together a social safety net of NEW friends you can laugh, cry and socialize with. This is a new chapter in your life, so an opportunity to welcome in new people.
Make ONE Dramatic Change
Divorce and breakups can be damaging to our self-esteem and ego. The mind and body are interconnected, so a quick starting point to begin recovery is to do some outer, tangible sprucing up. Change your hair color, hire an image consultant or bring in a personal trainer. All of these can do wonders to boost your self-confidence.
Selecting a New Mate
If you’re emotionally ready, then be crystal clear about your “deal breakers” and use discernment while you’re dating. A second marriage/relationship is about a mate and partnership that will go the distance. It must be able to carry you through the challenges occurring in your 50’s/60’s/70’s (illness, gravity, money etc..) Focus less on sexual attraction, and more on shared values and aspirations. Working with a matchmaker may also help you to assess what worked and didn’t work in your marriage, then come up with the ideal profile of your future partner.
Best Cure for a Bad Date: Humor!
Let’s face it, being married for 10, 20 or 30+ years means you’re most likely entering the dating scene after a long absence. So, count on being a bit nervous – and you may have some not-so-fun dates. I’m always advising my clients that you need to develop two things when you’re dating: a) A thick skin and b) A sense of humor! Dating after divorce involves distinct phases. Once you have taken time to heal, then you need to allow yourself time to meet a few people and get used to dating without having any expectations of where it could lead. Enjoy the experience, and when a date doesn’t go quite as you had hoped, see the funny side! Chalk everything up to a great lesson – then move on. Don’t let it deter you. When the time is right, you will know who you are looking for and be ready to bring a new partner into your life. You will be happy within yourself and focusing on the future.
My best advice is to approach this new chapter in your life as an opportunity to celebrate YOU and the person you were before the divorce – combined with the wisdom you have accumulated through your life experience while you were married. I bet if you take a peek underneath the pain, there’s a pretty amazing person just below the surface.