Whether you feel complete angst or absolute freedom when it comes to your divorce, one thing remains constant: Divorce isn’t easy. And when children are involved, things can get really complicated.
There’s no guidebook or article that tells you exactly what’s right and what’s wrong when it comes to dating after a divorce.
At some point, you look inside yourself and think about what feels right. Almost every divorce takes a toll on a person’s emotions and self-esteem. As a result, a few words or tips can’t erase the feelings of betrayal, disappointment, embarrassment, etc., but you have to start somewhere!
Myths about dating after divorce
There’s a predetermined amount of time to wait before dating
Being ready to date after a divorce can go either way, depending on the situation. Maybe you’ve been “over it” for years and are ready to be back on the scene minutes after signing on the dotted line. Or, maybe it’s a little bit harder. Whatever the case, you need time to reevaluate and decide in your next relationship what’s important and what you want moving forward.
My children are going to get in the way of finding someone
Chicago dating expert Stef Safran says, “While you might find many recently separated and divorced people tend to gravitate towards trying out people without children, more often than not, people with children tend to find it easier to date other people with children, or those who want children.”
You should wait to date until your kids go off to college
This isn’t necessary! If you’re in your 40s and your kids won’t go to college until you’re in your 50’s, it puts you in an entirely different age bracket and you may not want to wait. Every circumstance is different. Think about your children selflessly wanting to see you as happy as possible. According to Match.com, over two-thirds of single men on the site are interested in dating a single mom and 53 percent of single parents prefer to date someone who also has children.
Don’t ever talk about your ex in your new relationship
Why not? Your ex was obviously a big part of your life for a while and is the parent of your child. It’s only healthy and natural to not pretend like that relationship didn’t exist. It’s a completely unrealistic expectation not to share things about that part of your life.
Tips for moving on
After a divorce, take time to rediscover yourself. Often times, you’re faced with a new reality that you weren’t prepared for. Realizing that somewhere in the marriage — and in the journey of being a parent — you lost who you were. Divorce gives you that opportunity to not only rediscover who that person is, but also try out things you’ve always wanted to do, but might have stopped yourself from doing.
Everyone has a difference of opinion for how long it should take someone to heal and what you should be doing during that time. What is most important is that you take the time to do so. Dating coach Kimberly Koehler says, “What you are looking for is to hold yourself accountable to really making efforts to heal, rather than simply letting time and life pass by. You want to be proactive in your healing process and be honest with yourself so you can determine if you’re moving forward or standing still.”
Be considerate of the children
Once you’re ready to put yourself out there again, and you’re comfortable enough to socialize and go out on some dates, sit down with your children and share with them that you are ready to date. Ask them to share any concerns they may have and reassure them that you love them and that no one will take their place.
The past is the past
Your children will always tie you and your ex to one another. While you may be one of the lucky divorcees that has been able to maintain an amicable relationship, you must remember that you need to be able to move forward with your own life. “Some people struggle with letting go or caring too much about what their ex is doing with their life to focus on their own growth and development,” says Koehler. “You are divorced for a reason, so let go and let them live their life and you live yours.”