Tips for Dating After Divorce And How to Enjoy It
By: Sarah Fader
Updated March 25, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Beverly Vanover, MS LPC NCC BC-TMH CCTP
Dating after a divorce can be one of the toughest hurdles to climb. This is equally true whether you are the dumping person or the dumped person. If you were the dumped person, then it may be incredibly difficult for you to trust someone again, especially if you were cheated on or otherwise betrayed. If you were the one to do the dumping, then you may be hesitant to put yourself out there again, fearful that you may again think you have met your soulmate, only to end up disappointed in the long run.
Dating after divorce may seem dreadful and scary, but it is possible to make it work - even if you have an ex that simply refuses to go away, or who is dragging you to court for every little thing. It may be difficult to find a partner who is willing to put up with those kinds of shenanigans, but when you meet that person who will, you'll know you have stumbled upon someone special.
Leaving Your Past in The Past
Rule number one for dating after a divorce is to leave your ex where he or she is: in the past. No matter who you ask, or what you read, this will always be the number one piece of advice because it is crucial to forming healthy relationships in the future. You simply can't enjoy living in the present and planning for your future if you're still spending days on end harping on your past.
And you don't even have to mention your ex by name for them to interfere with your current relationship. All it takes is an offhanded remark about relationships, in general, to signal that you're still embittered about your past relationship and that you may end up taking old hurts out on a new partner.
For instance, saying something like "I'm interested in someone who won't take me for granted" is all someone needs to hear to know that you're still wounded and probably not yet ready to date. These are the kinds of statements that will push a potential partner away before they ever really get a chance to know the real you.
Dating in your 30s can make for a difficult adventure, especially for women. While there are men out there who like to date women their age or older, dating in your 30s can be especially difficult for women when men in their 30s have not yet had children and are interested in starting a family. While women in their 30s may be perfectly capable of having children, some men may mistakenly believe them to be infertile, and so these men would rather seek younger women.
Another pitfall for women dating in their 30s is that personality traits that would otherwise seem sexy could be a deterrent. Women in their 30s may be viewed as older, wiser, and more experienced in the ways of life, and this can be intimidating to some men. Possibly insecure with themselves, these men would rather stick to the "sweet and innocent" younger girls, as opposed to having a more mature and established woman by his side.
Dating after divorce in your 30s can be especially difficult if you have children. With women having children, on average, later in life in recent years, this means that both women and men in their 30s have children who are on the younger side. It may be difficult for younger children to understand and accept why Mommy and Daddy aren't together anymore, and why they are dating different people. Even if you know your partner will make the best stepparent in the world, your children may not be so quick to give him or her the chance to show it.
And, chances are, if you're divorced, or if you're in the middle of a long and drawn out divorce, then you probably have custodyand visitation schedules that can put a significant strain on any relationship, especially one that is beginning anew.
Dating After Divorce at 40
If you're getting back into the dating game in your forties, this can be considerably more difficult than if you were still in your twenties or thirties. This is because, by the time you're in your forties, you have likely already been living with your spouse for some years, and you both probably believed it would be that way forever. You were both established in your day-to-day routine until that fateful day when something upset the apple cart and ultimately broke up the marriage.
You may find your head is spinning for quite a while after something like this happens, which is why it is recommended that you do not get back into dating so soon after a marriage ends. You need to take the appropriate amount of time for you specifically to come to terms with what happened and to make sure that you are ready to get back out there again.
While it might feel wonderful to be loved and cherished once again, especially in the rose-colored early days of a new relationship, once all of that eventually fades away (and it will), and you find yourselves set into a new routine, the same demons that haunted your past relationships will rear their heads again if you haven't taken the time to conquer them.
For example,any issues you may have with the ending of your marriage must be dealt with before you move on. Otherwise, it's not fair to your next partner. S/he doesn't deserve to be bombarded with texts if they run a few minutes late because you're worried they're cheating on you. Nor should they have to endure listening to you ramble on about what a jerk your ex-was for hours on end.
When you bring the healthiest and most confident version of yourself into your new relationship, then you are already establishing a foundation of happiness on which to build that new relationship. Bringing in the mud and the muck from a past relationship can cloud even the shiniest rainbow.
Nowadays, there's a website for everything, including matchmaking sites for the recently divorced. What's nice about a divorced dating site is that most of its users probably feel they have effectively put their divorces behind them and are ready to get back out there and find someone new. Of course, there will always be the occasional person who thinks s/he is ready but, in fact, is not quite there yet. But if someone is actively searching for a partner, the odds are that s/he is more interested in dating than someone who stumbles into a relationship before they're ready.
Some websites that come highly recommended for those who are interested in joining a divorced dating website include Zoosk, Match, and eHarmony. All these websites are recommended to those who are seeking a partner for either a casual date or a long-term relationship, and each has different search criteria for finding the perfect mate. For instance, eHarmony matches you up to potential mates after evaluating the results of your personality test, while Match allows you to search by age, profile, and zip code.
If you feel funny about joining a website for the sole purpose of finding a mate, then you may want to consider joining a Meetup group instead. Meetup is a great place to connect with people who share interests similar to yours. Maybe you'll find your next partner through a meetup, maybe not. At the very least, you are putting yourself out there and opening yourself up to new experiences which, if nothing else, gives you a chance to form new relationships and make new friends.
There's a certain level of freedom that dating as a divorced person can bring. For one thing, you've already been married, so you don't have to feel pressured to do it again. Now that you've accomplished that milestone, you can just let go and have fun. It may be helpful to avoid looking for a serious relationship altogether for a while and focus instead on just having fun.
The only thing to worry about now is that you are taking care of your health and wellbeing, and the health and wellbeing of your children (if any). As you are meeting those goals, then get out there and do what makes you happy. Have you always dreamed of taking a special trip, or going hiking in the mountains? Now's your chance.
Especially true if your children are fully grown, when you are no longer in a relationship, then you no longer must answer to anyone but yourself. Embrace these moments of freedom and get in touch with what truly makes you happy. Life is short, so get out there and live your life and make great memories.
Looking for information that isn't covered here? Reach out to one of our counselors online, who are available 24/7 to answer your questions and offer relationship advice to help you make the right decisions about what your next step should be.
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