Dating after divorce or long-term relationship
As if breaking up wasn’t hard enough already, divorcing or separating after many years can feel devastating and the thought of ever loving someone else may seem impossible at first. Most people will experience a sense of grief and go through these 5 stages. They are:
- Denial and isolation
So how do you know if you are ready to get back out there and start dating again? Here are a few things that you should consider before you get back on that proverbial dating horse:
Accept that it’s over
Seems like an obvious one but this is a vital step helping you be open for something new. First, make sure you’ve come to terms with your marriage/relationship being over and that you have accepted it. Reaching this stage can take a long time – sometimes years – so be patient and allow yourself to heal first.
The ex is dating again
Remember that acceptance we’ve just mentioned? That resolve can be tested when you see your ex with someone new for the first time. Be prepared for this to trigger emotions you thought you’d dealt with. Seeing him/her with another partner can really hurt and trigger feelings of jealousy and undo all the positive steps you’ve taken since the breakup. At this point, it is important to remember that it’s ok to feel those emotions but not allow them to overwhelm you. Remembering that you and your ex may be at different stages in life will help you remain objective. And that you both deserve to be happy – even if it’s with someone else.
Meeting the kids
Sit down with your children and talk to them about this step waaay before you start dating again. Especially if your kids are older. Helping them navigate their own grieving process will allow the family to heal as a whole before they reach the stage of acceptance. So be gentle and give them time to get used to the idea of you dating again. Just don’t put it off altogether – you too deserve to be happy!
Begin to redefine who you are outside of the marriage/relationship by spending quality time on your own. Take yourself out to dinner or the cinema. You’ve always wanted to try Salsa dancing but your partner did not? Go and do that! By rebuilding your own sense of identity you’ll get your confidence back and will begin to see all the exciting opportunities out there.
As they say, “Time is the wisest counsellor of all.” I think we can agree that taking time out from dating after a breakup is a good strategy. One way to find out if the time is right to dip your toe in that dating pond again is to try visualising yourself with someone else. If you feel a sense of excitement – great – you are ready! If however, you struggle to do that, it’s safe to say you need a bit more time and space until you can. It’s ok to take as much time as you need!