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Tips for Dating After Divorce

Dating again after divorce can be scary and intimidating, but it can also be exciting and fun. Dating is a very different journey the second time around; you’ve got baggage and you’re not traveling alone. Most experts strongly advise keeping your dating life separate from your children until you become involved in a serious relationship that you’re certain is permanent. Love the second time around is possible, but as parents with children, your evaluation process is much more complicated and should be very thorough.

The passage of time often reveals hidden flaws, and observing the way a person deals with challenges and conflicts may present possible deal breakers. Being a parent requires you to ask questions: Is this person worthy of being around my children? Would he or she be a good role model and influence? Is he or she a good fit for not just me, but also for my kids? Before you introduce your potential partners to your children, make sure you know his or her background and have met his or her family and friends. If something seems off, trust your instincts. It’s our job as parents to protect our children and, although most people are good, an extra measure of vigilance is a warranted measure. 

It’s also advisable to take some time before heading back in to the dating scene. Focus on solitude and recovery following a divorce. Your system needs time to process what has happened, a chance to heal. In some ways, a divorce is like a death, the death of the dream of a forever marriage. Seeing a counselor may be helpful in the grieving process, especially if your feelings of sadness are interfering with your ability to cope with daily life. Having a “fast” from love can be a beneficial and emotionally healthy part of the journey. It’s essential to learn to be alone before you can learn to be part of a healthy couple. Your children also need this time to mourn the loss of the intact family and adjust to the idea of their parents having new partners.

When you feel ready to brave the dating world again, move slowly and with caution. Although it’s tempting to throw yourself into the first relationship, hold back and proceed carefully. Your emotions are probably still raw and it’s easy to believe that the first person you find yourself attracted to is going to be the “one.” The first relationship post-divorce is very likely to be a rebound relationship. The relationship starts out so well, this person appreciates you, courts you and brings the long dead romance back into your life. You feel renewed, vital, beautiful and full of hope. But somehow this person rarely works out for long. Even if it’s a great person, the timing isn’t right. No real explanation, it’s just too soon to jump into another committed relationship.

The next stage following the rebound relationship is often a dating flurry. It’s normal to want to experience the attention of many people after having been in a long-term, monogamous marriage. For some, dating numerous people fulfills a need to rebuild a bruised ego following the perceived rejection and failure of their marriage. Some may use this stage as an opportunity to prove to themselves, and maybe to their ex, that they are still attractive to others. Keep your physical and emotional safety in the forefront during this stage. Not everyone wants or needs this hyper-dating activity stage but, if you do, it’s best to get it out of your system before you move on.

Although some people are happy to remain single and a few enjoy the thrill of the prolonged dating game, many are hoping for a second chance at true love. Finding “the one” takes patience, discipline and good judgement. This time around, you are choosing not just a partner for yourself but a family member that will also greatly impact the lives of your children. The needs and desires of all family members should be considered to create a successful, harmonious blended family.

Real relationships take time and work, especially when you involve children. If you decide to date again, approach it with a good balance of fun and wisdom!

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