Dating after a divorce can be a minefield of one’s own making.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that if it’s of your own making, it also means that you can clear the field or choose a greener pasture—it’s really up to you!
For now, though, we’re going to take a look at some of the most common dating pitfalls that women tend to make after they’ve gone through a divorce:
- Rushing into dating before you’re emotionally ready
Getting over your ex is tough—and there’s no shortcut to cutting those ties that bind. Most women (and men) experience divorce in waves; and just when you’re regaining your hold on the ground, the next wave comes. Divorce is like a glass of grief with a bitter chaser: you’re mourning your ex; you’re mourning the person you were, or the life you were living.
So, if you start dating too soon, you’re carrying not only yourself, but your ex, into your new relationship. Old, unresolved pain has a way of popping up in the most unexpected ways, and you want your new relationship to start with as clean a slate as possible.
Give your new relationships a chance by giving yourself the time to look around, gather yourself, tend to your wounds, and heal.
(Not sure if you’re ready? Check out this (link to Blog #2) blog, “Are You Ready to Start Dating Again?”)
- Starting a relationship without firm goals in mind
Many women assume that they know what they want in a new relationship. But what they haven’t taken into account is that divorce can radically alter one’s image of the kind of relationship they want. Some women discover that a marriage certificate doesn’t mean what it used to mean. Others re-interpret what marriage actually means to them.
Or maybe you’re not even thinking long-term. Maybe you’re looking to have some fun, or to use dating as a means to get to know yourself better. Whatever the reason, it definitely helps to know what you’re doing, and why, before you jump into any relationship.
- Getting stuck in the negative
Your self-esteem can sometimes take a hit once you re-enter the dating scene—so much has changed! You’re different, the dates are different; suddenly it’s not dinner and a movie, but coffee or a walk through the park?
In the midst of the confusion, stay positive and remind yourself of your worth. Write little (love) notes to yourself on post-its and put them in random places: on your bathroom mirror, under your pillow, wherever. The point is, if you start going negative (for example: “I don’t have a date this weekend—I’m never going to find someone”), have strategies in place to remind yourself that you are loveable, attractive, and worthy of love.
- Not setting your boundaries
Know what your value is, and hold onto that sense of self no matter what. You deserve a relationship that is fulfilling and a man who listens to you and respects you in all your glorious (and inglorious) wonder.
There will be men who test your boundaries. Both of you will benefit from your willingness and ability to stand your ground. When in doubt, think of the 3 Strikes Rule—if a man tests your boundaries, tell him how it makes you feel, and then give him two more chances to change. If he just doesn’t get it, then it’s up to you to decide whether you want to be with someone who doesn’t know what it means to respect your needs.
If a man is abusive? Forget the 3 Strikes Rule—it’s one strike and your out.
- Forgetting who is in charge
If you’re wondering who’s in charge, the answer is, “You are!”
Dating can come with so many varied expectations (i.e., is it going to be coffee or dinner and a movie?) One way to deal with the unknowns is to just decide what your expectations are.
Keep that first date short, and make sure he knows beforehand that you only have an hour. It gives you a convenient out, for one thing. And it has the benefit of keeping you in control: if you like the guy, keeping your date to an hour will keep your heart from putting all of your eggs in one basket, and it will leave him wanting more.
You’re there to find out if you like him and want to see him again. So, ask him the questions you’re curious about, and more importantly, check in with yourself to see how you feel about him—how does he make you feel when you’re together?
Dating after divorce can be wonderfully restorative. Approach it with a sense of adventure, and you’ll rediscover aspects of yourself that you might have forgotten about. You’ll find that you have a stronger voice now; that you have a sense of humor about the inevitable dating mishaps. Most of all, you know who you are and what you want. You know that you deserve love and respect.
Isn’t life beautiful?
Don’t forget to join my private Facebook Group of women over 40, looking to attract their soulmates. Join here.