You’re Not Ready to Date Until You Have These 7 Things In Place!

I put the cart before the horse when it came to dating after divorce. I invited dates to take part in the drama that my ex husband directed. I looked to my partner for the day for emotional support and validation that I was desirable even after being rejected. And I even allowed my date’s views of me to shape my own self-image.

Overall, I made the experience much harder than it needed to be because I didn’t have these seven things in place before I started dating:

 

The Volume Turned Down On the Drama

“Can you believe my ex said that? He is such a narcissist.”

“She didn’t show up at school to pick up the kids. Again.”

“I saw her in his Facebook feed again. Ugh. She’s young enough to be his daughter.”

Divorce brings with it immense change and overwhelming emotion. And when those two collide, drama is sure to ensue. And even though the theatrics are often negative, it is easy to habituate to the intensity and excitement until drama becomes the norm.

If your life currently resembles an episode of reality television, it is not yet time to craft a profile on OKCupid. Rather than acting as a stabilizing influence, bringing somebody into an unstable environment only accentuates the turmoil. Wait until your life is more documentary and less Real Housewives before you enter the dating scene.

A Supportive and Diverse Friend Group

 

There is no doubt about it – divorce is isolating and can often leave you feeling lonely and rejected. It can be so tempting to turn to dating to meet your social and emotional needs, to feel loved and lovable.

Yet, if you approach dating with this need front and center, you will find that you are unsuccessful in attracting emotional healthy people. Additionally, you are placing an unfair share of your needs at the feet of another.

Before you focus on dating, spend time and energy building and fostering your platonic friend group. Your goal is to have all of your social requirements met so that when you do date, it’s out of want, not driven from need.

Time and Energy to Spare

 

First you have to write your dating profile or make an effort to get out of your usual circles. Then come the early exchanges, the tentative assessments of potential compatibility and shared interests. This is followed by the actual date, filled with nerves and expectations.

And that’s only the beginning. Dating requires a consistent supply of time and energy. And both of those can be in short supply in the early stages of divorce. Before you begin dating, ensure that you have the space and enthusiasm to accommodate it in your life.

A Passion Project or Engrossing Hobby

 

When we experience a void in our lives (such as after divorce), it is easy to become obsessive in the drive to fill the emptiness. And if you don’t have something in your life that brings you joy and a sense of accomplishment, it’s easy to turn that all-consuming drive towards dating. Often with disastrous consequences.

So before you attempt to fill that emptiness with another person, take the time to find some activity or cause that you are passionate about. Throw yourself into for a time. Use that opportunity to discover (or rediscover) what makes you tick and what makes you special. And then later, when you begin dating, you’re looking to be complemented, not completed.

A Counselor or Other Emotional Outlet

 

Your date is not your therapist.

When triggers arise or emotions become overwhelming, it is critical that you already have a safe and supportive place to vent and receive guidance. You can certainly be open with your date about your experiences and your past history, but refrain from unloading the emotion on them. That’s not their role.

Prior to accepting or asking for that first date, make sure you have your support system in place and that you’re practiced with turning to them for help.

 

Belief That You Can Be In a Healthy Relationship

 

Seems obvious, doesn’t it? Yet obvious doesn’t always happen. It can be tempting to turn to dating as a distraction from the pain and loneliness of divorce. Sometimes we find ourselves “sliding” into a relationship without much foresight or intention.

And when these happen, the change in status can come before the conviction that you can be in a healthy relationship. Which often means that you find yourself in a partnership that is toxic at worst and unfulfilling at best.

Spend time defining what a “healthy” relationship looks like to you and cultivating the traits needed to make it a reality before you act.

Self Worth and a Realistic Self-Image

 

It feels great when a stranger complements your appearance or a date makes you feel desirable. Especially after the rejection and uncertainty surrounding divorce, that attention is affirming and confidence-building.

And it’s also a bit of an illusion because when you seek validation outside of yourself, it’s never enough. Work to establish and recognize your own worth independent of the thoughts and actions of others. That internal validation is always enough.

Additionally, make an effort to construct a realistic image of yourself, untarnished by the possibly harsh words of your ex or the sycophantic remarks of a prospective date.

You don’t need a partner to tell you you’re worthy.

You don’t need a date to tell you who you are.

Once you see, know and appreciate yourself, you will project that confidence and invite others to view the same.

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4 Responses

  1. Nancy Symns says:

    Love the “partner of the day”! Lol 😝 Made me laugh, & THANK YOU FOR THAT!
    I have followed these tips for the most part, and of course, agree. Ok, and yes, I wasn’t ready for a much longer time, before the first ever happened. I’ve had a total of 3 different dates this year. Two first and only dates. The third two Fridays ago, with the first second date being last Friday night. WOO HOO!! Wait….backup!!! No, it should have only been a first and only date. But…. me still having problems with low self confidence, agreed to a second.
    Can I say MISTAKE?? What I’ve learned is that I’m smarter and more confident than I thought, and for that and all the articles about dating site do’s and dont’s along with what to watch for it was a very good practice date and second. I have bitten my tongue many times before spitting out something regarding my ex. What I’ve learned there too, is that do I really want anyone thinking “what was she thinking with that awful guy”? NO I don’t. It will be a long time before I spill that spoiled can of beans.
    Also, I MUCH agree with your suggestions about time and energy to date, as well as taking on someone who’s very outdoorsy or athletic, etc. I have the time, but my personal energy levels have been low for some time due to depression, etc.
    I am still very much a recovery in process and I’m ok with that, too, finally. Beating ourselves up does not help us…done that, don’t help. Lots of trials and errors here, but that’s ok too.

  2. Patrick says:

    Thought provoking set of criteria concerning when to consider looking to starting a new relationship. Several times over the past two years I have questioned if I should have waited longer before starting a new relationship? Being an introvert by default I knew that I could easily become a hermit. The thought of dating after being married over 28 years was daunting. The first date was surreal and I was glad to be 50 miles from my hometown. As I look back at all that has happened, as well as looking forward to the unknown, I don’t believe it would have made a difference in waiting. I would have possibly missing the opportunity to meet my fiance if I had waited.

  3. TJ says:

    Another fantastic article I look forward to linking to in a future post of my own! This article rings so true for me. At the very end of my first marriage, I was utterly devoid of esteem and looked to an old high school boyfriend (from 20+ years before) to fill my heart with life again. Even though I knew I was still madly in love with my ex, I NEEDED to feel wanted, loved and validated. How unfair that was to the man that would become my 2nd husband only 8 months after my final divorcing from my first. That marriage literally almost ended with me losing my life at his hands (he was more emotionally unstable than me), and lasted all of 6 months. I have now been single (in every sense of the word) for 8-years now. Some of that is because I am still broken over how destroyed I was by my first husband’s and his mistresses actions, but because I have found joy in taking care of myself, and pursuing my dreams. This is an excellent article, and I hope others find it as truthful, and as helpful as I have.

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