One of the most common questions regarding dating after a divorce is: “How will I know when I’m ready to date?” It’s important to note that time plays a minimal role in answering this question. Every situation is different and each person has their own healing process to go through. It takes some much longer than it takes others to be ready for dating after divorce, and that’s okay.
It’s also important to note that some healing must occur before a person is ready to date after divorce, no matter if the divorce was a high-conflict situation or an amicable, mutual agreement. Trying to move on to a new relationship before you’ve had a chance to grieve and heal is never a good idea.
Another question that’s common regarding dating after divorce is, “Is it okay to date before the divorce is final?” For legal purposes, the answer is no. Legal purposes aside, some people are capable of being emotionally ready to date again during a separation. If you choose to date during your separation, just know you’re doing so against the advice that an attorney would be likely to give you. Technically, you are still married, and this can also be an immediate turn-off for some people.
But let me be 100% honest with you: I didn’t follow any of the advice I’m giving you in this post today.
I dated during my separation and became pregnant during our separation, which made our divorce proceedings drag on an extra (expensive) nine months. To keep a long story short, I was abused during next relationship I entered into after my ex-husband and ended up pregnant and alone.
So why am I telling you to do things that I didn’t do myself?
Honestly, I have learned a lot in the five years since my ex-husband and I first separated. I went through a hell of a struggle emotionally, physically, and mentally, and what made things so much worse was that I didn’t allow myself time to heal.
If you want to see a post specifically on help with healing after a divorce, be sure to leave a comment below, and I will be happy to make a post all about healing. ❤️ Subscribe so you don’t miss it!
For now, we’re focusing on how you’ll know when you’ve healed enough to start dating again. I’ve put together five reliable ways to recognize that you’re emotionally ready for dating after divorce.
1) You don’t talk about your ex anymore.
When you separated, you were likely left feeling either very hurt or very angry depending on the circumstances. Those strong emotions caused you to bring up your ex often. You confided in family or friends, you frequently brought up memories of happier times, you talked about the fighting, the arguments, or you vented about your ex on social media, to coworkers, etc. This is a normal part of the healing process. To me, it feels like the brain just wants to get all the information OUT. Eventually though, your ex will no longer be a topic in your daily conversations. The focus will be less and less about your ex and your previous relationship, and more on yourself and your future. You want to wait until you’re rarely bringing up your ex–if at all–to other people in your life before you try to start dating someone else. It’s a huge turn-off for a new date to hear all about “the ex.” When you start dating after divorce, the other person will want to know you’ve healed enough to be able move forward with your life and with someone new. You won’t be able to do that if you’re consistently bringing up the past.
2) You can think and talk about your ex without feeling angry or sad.
When you first separated, you likely felt emotionally charged anytime you talked about or thought about your ex. You cried, you vented, you argued back and forth with your ex, or maybe even sent your ex texts or calls filled with sadness and regret. If that’s still you, you’re not ready to date yet. Eventually, you’ll be able to speak about your ex with little or no emotion. Your ex will become just another person that you knew. If you have kids together, you’ll still be communicating with your ex regularly, but you’ll be able to do so in a reasonable, civil manner. Some people call this forgiveness, some call it growth, some call it closure–but it all means the same thing: that you can speak to and about your ex without feeling any extreme emotions.
3) You believe you’ll be able to have a healthy relationship.
You don’t have to know for sure whether or not you’ll ever get married again, but you need to believe it’s at least possible to find a partner capable of a having healthy relationship. Some people are left feeling so hurt or resentful after a divorce, especially if they were in a toxic relationship, that they convince themselves that all men/women are “the same.” If you find yourself stereotyping all men or all women into one category of “cheaters, liars, manipulators, etc,” then you’re not ready to date. If you’ve completely lost hope in the possibility of ever having a healthy relationship, you’ll want to speak with a counselor or other healthcare professional. Feelings of hopelessness are possibly the most toxic emotions you can have. Trust me, there is always hope, and you’ll want to believe that yourself before trying to date again.
4) You feel worthy of love.
To me, this one is the most important, but sometimes the hardest to achieve. Many men and women struggle with depression and self-esteem during or after a divorce. You can read how negatively I thought about myself in my previous post about dating after divorce. As a divorced/single mom of three children from two different fathers, I thought it was going to be impossible for someone to love me. But the fact is, we all have qualities that make us worthy of love, regardless of the circumstances that surround us and regardless of decisions we made in the past. What you must learn to focus on is self-acceptance and self-love, knowing that you’re worthy of a loving, healthy relationship.
5) You feel excited when you think about dating again.
Getting to know new people, being asked on a date, or planning a first date are all meant to be an exciting part of your life! Meeting new people and dating again should feel like a fresh, new chapter in your life. Although you may feel nervous, especially if this first time you’ve dated in a very long time, that nervousness should be mixed with excitement. If you find that you’re dreading talking to new people or going on a date, it likely means that you’re just not ready. Give yourself time, or perhaps take it very slow. Sign up for an online dating website, and test it out by just talking to new people online. You’re not obligated to actually date anyone, even if they ask you out. If you’re not feeling that “butterflies” feeling of excitement, wait until you talk to or meet someone who does make you feel that way.
If you’ve met all five of these goals, it’s very likely you’re ready to date again. If you’re considering trying to date online (let’s face it, many people are now meeting their partners this way), be sure to check out the Five Online Dating Tips Every Woman Should Know if you missed it last month!