The truth is that most men will immediately start dating after a divorce. Ex-wives are often startled by how quickly they are “replaced”. Sometimes the ink isn’t dry yet or even, has not been laid down yet! Why is that? Surely they are not so shallow, so unaffected by the trauma of the divorce!
In fact, no, they are not shallow. Reality is, it’s the surest sign that they are miserable without you. How’s that? Well, you see, they are so hurt and lonely without you they run out to try to heal their wounds by finding someone to fill the hole in their heart since you left. Hey, they will do that before the end of the marriage if you have left energetically from the marriage. (Trust me, this is not justification, only an explanation.)
Beginning To Date Again
Those of us who cannot face jumping back in so quickly are left with the question of how in the heck do we start the process of dating again when we feel so broken and distrustful. Dating was so easy in high school. We were young and had a pool of people to choose from every day. They were all around us in our classes, and only a few already committed to someone. That’s not so true today.
From the time we are in our late 20’s to our golden years it seems the majority of the good ones are already taken. And, where the heck are the good ones that are left. It’s not like you are going to see them in study hall. Dating at work is difficult if not impossible for most of us, so where and how do we meet a potential date anyway?
And more importantly, how do you know when you are ready to dive back into the dating pool? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Can you have a conversation with someone without mentioning your ex even once?
- Have you gone through a period of mourning the loss of the marriage?
- Have you worked through your anger?
- Can you honestly say that the dissolution of the marriage was as much your fault as theirs?
- Can you picture yourself being with someone else?
- Can you picture yourself touching someone else?
- Can you picture yourself kissing someone else?
- Do you have a good grasp on what happened between you that didn’t work?
- How about what did work?
- Can you view your marriage and divorce as a “course correction” and not a dismal failure?
- Do you have a clear idea of how you were responsible for what occurred?
- Have you grown enough since your divorce that you can be the kind of partner that you want your partner to be?
- Have you faced your own intimacy fears and blocks?
- When you imagine dating someone have you already planned out your entire life with them? (If so, this is not a good sign)
- Have you forgiven your ex?
- Have you forgiven yourself?
When we have been betrayed, let down, disappointed, abandoned or even abused in our past relationships some of those questions can be really tough. But if you fail to work them through, you are setting yourself up to fail again and, no, you are not ready to date.
The Importance Of Self Growth
Most of us need to go through some kind of counseling or self-growth before we are ready to date again. Dating before you are ready can make dating excruciating for both people (not to mention the friends listening to our saga).
The most important questions are 11, 15 and 16. if you can answer those affirmatively then you might be ready to date, but only if you have fully grieved your marriage.
Grieving is a process that takes time, and a willingness to feel the hard stuff. And of course, like all grieving, it happens in stages and is never quite over. I remember being so glad to be out of the marriage, yet feeling a wave of grief when my ex re-married within two years of our divorce. I was confused at first, because I was clear I didn’t want to be married to him. But the truth is, seeing him marry reminded me of all the hopes and dreams I had of our marriage in the beginning. I had to grieve the loss of those hopes.
Give yourself time to heal, and to face your own part in what occurred between you and you will be ready to date again. For some of us it’s a matter of months, for others it may take years. Don’t let anyone rush you into it either. Friends feeling our pain may want us to get back on the horse again. But you are the only one who knows when you are ready. That said; don’t let fear keep you from riding the horse again. If you have worked through all the questions above, you should get back in the saddle regardless of how scared you are. You deserve to have the love you are capable of giving.