How Soon Should I Start Dating After Divorce

In my last post I addressed how long it typically takes someone to heal after experiencing a divorce.  In this post I will address a very closely related topic: How soon should I start dating after divorce?  Starting to date too soon after a divorce is the single biggest mistake I see people make.  Sure it’s tempting to get back out there in the dating world, but jump the gun and you will only prolong your journey to emotional health.

Why The Rush?

I understand the pressure, both from within and from others.  After coming through a divorce, especially if it was an unwilling divorce, you most likely feel rejected by your ex-spouse and quite possibly by the entire opposite sex.  You feel an urgency to know that you are desirable, that there is hope that you will one day love again.  The unfortunate truth is that if you re-enter the dating game too soon you can significantly decrease your chances of having a healthy relationship.

When someone loses a spouse to death, the last thing we expect them to do is start dating right away.  We all know they have experienced a profound loss and need time to grieve.  Why then do we expect a new divorcee to immediately look for a new relationship?  As a divorcee you need to grieve the loss of your marriage much like a widow or widower does.

So on to the question.

How soon should you start dating after divorce?

There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to that.  It will largely depend on how long you were married and the depth of your emotional wounds.  If you start dating before letting your emotional wounds heal you will mask the unresolved pain, anger, depression, or ________ (fill in the blank) with the joy of a new relationship.  Left unresolved, these emotions will fester and eventually will come to the surface and demand attention.  This can ruin what you thought was the new love of your life.

What are the signs that you are ready to date?

  • Are you comfortable being single?  If you feel a strong need to date you are probably not ready.  If you approach dating from a position of need you will be likely to overlook warning signs in your dates just to move toward a relationship.
  • Are you over the anger, hate, etc. toward your ex-spouse?  The opposite of love is apathy, not hate.  If you still feel strong negative feelings toward your ex it’s a good sign you are not over the relationship.  You will bring this baggage into any new relationship and it will most likely be short-lived.
  • Has it been at least a year since your divorce was final?  Many experts agree that one year is the minimum time it takes to be ready to date.  Dealing with the pain of anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, etc is something that is best handled before you bring someone else into the picture.

Recommended Resource


There’s some food for thought on when to start dating.  This advice is completely opposed to the advice you will likely get from well-meaning friends and family, but my years of helping people heal after divorce has shown this to be the right way.

Check out these other posts:

Dating After Divorce – 4 Signs You Are Not Ready

003 – Surviving Divorce Podcast – Dating After Divorce

049 – SDP – 5 Rules For Dating After Divorce

What do you think?

Please leave a comment and tell me.

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gdlengacher

G.D. Lengacher is a life coach focusing on helping people heal after divorce. He produces the Surviving Divorce Podcast weekly.
About gdlengacher

G.D. Lengacher is a life coach focusing on helping people heal after divorce. He produces the Surviving Divorce Podcast weekly.

2 comments
Calvin
Calvin

All I can say is that we have been together 30 years, Ill be dead of old age before I am over her. As much as it hurts, as bad as some parts were, I loved that woman beyond words. There was never a thought of anyone else, I hoped to live the rest of my life with her. Its gonna be a long time before I ever let someone in my heart like that.

SBCbyhimself
SBCbyhimself

@Calvin I hear you.  It was 17 years and 2 kids for me.  We have been going down that path here for a few months and I did not recognize the person I was with.  I was fighting my all to save things as I thought she was the love of my life as well.  And then I found out that the reason she didn't want to work on things was because she was already getting involved with my son's friend's dad -- real healthy situation.  I am pulling through the hurt and realizing that you get what you put out in the universe.  All I can control is myself and being there for our kids.  She will always be the mother of my kids, regardless of what I think of her actions.  I am better than this.  I want to be loved -- nothing I did made me deserve what has happened -- so I need to approach everything else the same way.  When will I be open to date again?  Who knows.  I know that at some point I will be ready to be loved and love without making the same mistakes again.  I think that is all I can do.

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