I wish I could devise a formula that would tell you when you are ready to date again:
(Length of marriage)(# of months since the end of the marriage*) + (# of crying sessions)(# of explicatives used to describe the ex)
(# of therapy** hours)
If this number <1, keep working on yourself; you are not yet ready to date
If this number >1, join Match.com asap
*This can be the date of separation, divorce, or when the spouse using the formula realized the marriage was over
** Therapy is defined loosely here. It can be traditional therapy as well as meditation, journaling, exercise, etc. Anything that is used to help the mind move forward from the trauma is therapeutic.
Unfortunately, no such formula exists. The “right” time to date is different for every person and every situation. What seems too soon to some, is on time for another. You are ready when you feel you are ready, not when X months have passed or Y tears shed. Try to listen to yourself without passing judgement. I knew I was ready to date when all of a sudden, I began to notice there were men around me at the gym. Men! I had turned a blind eye to all but my husband for 16 years, and now I was suddenly aware of the other gender. I felt like a 14 year old at the mall, amazed at all the possibilities. Luckily, before I threw myself into the mix with wild abandon, I took some time to reflect. I knew that I was ready in some ways to begin dating, but I had to look further to see if I was truly prepared.
Please, take what I have to say with a grain of salt. I am by no means an expert on dating. I met my husband when I was 16, so I did not partake in much dating beyond him prior to that. After the end of my marriage, I actively (very actively! For a three month period, dubbed Match Madness, I averaged 8 dates a week.) dated for about 8 months before I met the man I have been in a relationship with for the last two years. Even though my experience is limited, I went into my post-marriage dating very consciously, which led to some lessons to share.
Initially, I believed the conventional wisdom that you need to be fully healed in order to date. Uhmm…how many adults walking around today are fully healed? Have no relationship wounds? Yeah, that’s what I thought. If I had continued to believe that advice, I would still be waiting for my first date. Here’s what I realized is important:
1) You have to want to be healed.
2) You have to be actively moving forward on your healing process.
3) You need to be able to accept responsibility for your actions and your happiness.
4) You should be at a point where the good (or even okay) days outweigh the bad.
Once you have reached that point AND you find you have the interest, it’s time to tiptoe (or leap if that’s your style!) your way (back) into the dating world.
In future posts, I will address how to get back into dating again, tips for the recently divorced on a date, my dating ten commandments, and how to avoid the same patterns that ruined the marriage.