Dating after a divorce can be a bit daunting, especially if you were married a long time.
Even if you aren't looking for "the one," re-entering the dating world can be challenging. Here are some tips to help you navigate:
• Don't rush: Be sure you're ready before you jump back in. If your divorce was just finalized or if you're still hurting, it may be best to wait. Take time to heal from the emotional wounds and to reflect on why your past relationship went awry. Discover who you are and how to be true to yourself.
• Do it for the right reasons: Don't start dating for the security of having someone nearby or to get revenge on your ex. Date because you have a sincere interest in getting to know someone new.
• Don't dis marriage: Avoid speaking and thinking negatively about marriage or relationships. Negativity breeds fear and frustration. If you can't be optimistic about relationships, you may not be ready to date.
• Don't settle: Are you looking for companionship or are you hoping to find a new spouse? Be honest with yourself. Establish clear boundaries and expectations for yourself and don't compromise your values or gut instincts.
If you have kids, dating after divorce becomes even trickier. Should you let the kids know you're dating? When do you introduce them? Here are a few tips that can help:
• Be honest: Tell your date that you have children. They are part of who you are. Decide when and how to talk with your children about dating. Kids don't need to know the details of where you're going or what you're doing, but you should explain that it's normal for adults to want to spend time with other adults.
• Introduce slowly: Children are a lot more intuitive than we think. Explain to your kids and to the person you're dating that you will introduce them when you feel the time is right. Modeling healthy relationships is especially important for kids, so make sure you feel confident in how well you know someone before introducing them. Avoid the parade of potential new mommies or daddies, but don't keep two significant aspects of your life from each other forever.
• Plan the first meeting: Pick a spot that's casual and allows for communication without overemphasizing it. A baseball game or bowling would allow for interaction.
• Expect resistance: Even after your children come to grips with the divorce, they may still show some resistance to the idea of you dating. This could be because they still hope that you and your ex will reunite or they fear that the new person will take away from their time with you. These feelings are normal, and you should reassure your children that dating will not change how you feel about them or the time you spend with them. The greatest need children have, post divorce, is security. Your home should be a safe place for your children, and you want to respect that by meeting up with your date in locations other than your home.
• You ask for permission: Encourage your children to talk openly about how they feel, but don't allow them to determine whom and when you will date. Reassure them that you have your family's best interests at heart and that no matter what happens, they are still the apple of your eye.