Going from marriage to divorce to dating again is a huge transformation. It involves retreating into our own fear, hoping to one day emerge as a carefree butterfly. If you’ve been sitting in your own cocoon for months, years, or even decades, waiting for the courage to get back into the dating scene, here are five tips to help crack the walls of your nest.
Don’t Punish, But Learn from Your Mistakes
People have a tendency to beat themselves up over mistakes they’ve made, but most experts say to embrace and learn from them. Even if you feel like the breakup was entirely your partner’s fault (which is not often the case, even with an affair), there are still things to learn. In some cases, we punish ourselves for our partner’s mistakes by walling ourselves off so nobody can hurt us again. Ask yourself what kind of person your partner was, and how you dealt with the situation. Use this knowledge to grow, increase confidence, boost self esteem, and improve on the success rate of future relationships.
A New Beginning Includes New Friends
Old friends can be great support when going through a divorce. They know what makes us smile and how much hot fudge it takes to melt away a bad day. These friends are also the ones who knew us as a couple, so it might be hard for some of them to accept the changes that inevitably need to come. It may be necessary to seek out new friends during your transition back to the dating scene. This isn’t saying not to hang out with old friends, but that a fresh face might be more open to your need to reinvent yourself. A new friend may also become a more neutral wall from which to bounce your feelings off, and will be more likely to get you out into different circles, where you can meet new people. Keep in mind that people with low self esteem tend to be drawn to friends who view them negatively.
60 Percent Ready is Good Enough
It’s good to take the time you need to get your priorities in order, finances together, kids on track and health under control, but you will most likely never feel 100 percent ready to start dating again. You should wait until you can love yourself, accept your single identity, and are comfortable with the idea of living alone. At about this point you’ll feel scared as hell to start dating, but this is about as ready as you’ll ever be. Enjoy your time by yourself, but don’t get caught waiting for a moment that is never going to happen. The longer we stand on the highdive looking into the deep abyss, the less likely we’ll ever jump in.
Crash Parent Testing
Some relationship experts recommend using a parenting test to weed out any ill-prepared suitors before introducing them to our kids.
Test 1: Note how your date handles situations at the restaurant, theater, or while driving. Do they have a temper? Are they impatient? Do they lack understanding?
Test 2: Cancel or change plans one evening. How does your date receive the news? Do they appear flexible with their schedule?
Test 3: Invite them to a family outing. While some people keep their dating life separate from their family time, the earlier you introduce the two, the quicker you can rule out a poor match. You may long for romance, but if your Romeo or Juliet is not up for the occasional role of Mrs. Doubtfire, you could be setting yourself up for another heartbreak.
Hard Self Love
Studies from the University of Washington and the University of Waterloo in Canada suggest that one of the worst ways we can enter into the dating world is with resignation and fear (which is quite common). Instead, build yourself up with a defiant, almost aggressive attitude, which will help you become more confident, dynamic, and prepared to take on a new relationship. Most of us practice easy self love, which includes coddling and coaching. Instead, hard self love tells us to quit feeling sorry for ourselves, and learn to take control of our feelings, friends, health, time, family, and happiness. Whatever you do, don’t allow yourself to feel like a victim. Empowerment begins by taking hold of the reins, and guiding life towards your biggest fears and greatest aspirations.