Though divorce is a difficult process, it can also be immensely freeing. For some, the logical next step will be to start dating again. For others, the very idea may seem terrifying or impossible. It is a complicated issue especially if you have kids, but it is still possible and can be fun. To help in making this possible, it is important to let emotions settle in your household and find ways to talk to your kids about it.
It is very important to understand that the process of seeking a new relationship after divorce is different for everyone. Some might be ready to date right away while for others it might take years before they feel ready to even contemplate the thought of it. Just because it happened one way for a friend doesn’t mean it will for you. Pay attention to your own emotions, and ask yourself why you want to start dating again. If you are trying to fill the hole left by your spouse, dating right now won’t be a healthy option. You need to be healthy by yourself before you can be healthy with another person in your life.
Here what you need to do before starting a new relationship after divorce:
1. Be ready emotionally
To make sure that seeking a new relationship after divorce is a good experience, make sure that you are emotionally ready to handle this responsibility.
You don’t want to be grieving over the loss of your old relationship while you are trying to foster a new one. Don’t be afraid to be picky as you look for someone new to date. You owe it to yourself and your children to make sure that it is someone who will treat you well and give you what you really need. If you are feeling a bit unsure about actually getting back into the dating game, try just making new friends first. Making friends can be fun, and if you find someone you like more than a friend, you will already have a friendship to help make your relationship stronger.
2. Pay attention to your kids
If you have children, you need to pay a lot of attention to their feelings and needs as you begin seeing a new partner.
Your kids have their very own grieving process to go through after their parents split up, and you need to respect that. Just because your kids don’t like the idea of you dating doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it ever again, but you should give them adequate time to get used to the new way that things work. Children often see a new partner as attempting to replace their other parent, and some of them may still hope that you will get back together with their other parent. Make sure that your children understand that things are final, and give them time to process it. As you move forward, listen to their feelings, and express your own.
As far as what you should tell your children about your dating life depends on how old they are. A younger child doesn’t need to know that you are dating until you are more serious about it while a teenager should be given more details because they are sure to notice that something is going on. No matter your children’s age, it is best not to bring your new partner around until you are very sure of them. A divorce is disorienting to children, and they need stability. If you are to break up with your new partner whom your children have grown fond of, this can be almost as painful as when you split with their other parent.
Your children probably won’t respond enthusiastically the first time that they meet your new partner. They may express anger and frustration in different forms like acting out in front of your new partner or even giving you the silent treatment. Give them time to adjust, and don’t try to force them into situations they are uncomfortable with that involve your new partner. You can require them to be respectful to your new partner, but you can’t require them to like your new partner.
3. Be honest and direct with communication
Honesty and openness are the fuel for trust; be direct while communicating with your partner. Be open about your expectations, what you wish from this relationship or share any other concerns that you may have. It is important to establish this right at the beginning of the relationship as it paves the way for a solid relationship. Remember, openness and honesty is the lifeblood of any relationship.
While starting a new relationship after divorce is often a very sensitive process, you can still enjoy yourself. Make sure that you aren’t moving on because people expect you to or because you think you should be. Rather, do it you want to and you’re ready to. Don’t rush your new relationship, and all the while, make sure to take care of yourself. If you have children, keep them in mind and give them time to become accustomed to this new person in your life. Remember that this is your choice and your life, make sure that you are ready, and make it a good experience.
On another note, here are 3 things to completely avoid during the dating process:
1. Thinking all men/ women are like your ex
Trusting a new person takes time, especially after you’ve been hurt by your ex. Yet, if you hold on to that distrust, you will destroy your chance of finding someone new. Learn to look at the new man/woman as an individual. Notice how different, kind, attentive they are towards you. Appreciate them for their unique qualities. If you still face trust issues, you could consider professional counseling or other methods such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which involves tapping on acupressure points. Be conscious of your issues and don’t be afraid to seek help.
2. Holding on to baggage
This one’s hard but not impossible. After all, we are what our experiences make us. But holding onto baggage never helped anyone. If only, it hinders our own progress and often makes us bitter about various things. Learn ways that will help you release the baggage; have an internal dialogue with yourself about what’s holding you back. Also, realize your own past errors in your marriage, take accountability and learn from them.
3. Saying no to plans
After thinking about everything, you’ve finally reached a place where you want to date. You may be doing so hesitatingly or may have your own apprehensions, which is normal, but be open to new possibilities. If nothing, you may just find a new friend. Remember every date does have to culminate into a relationship. You want to tread carefully, consider deeply before making any commitment. However, do stay open to new ideas.
Read More: 5 Step Plan to Moving on After Divorce
While starting a new relationship after a divorce is often a very sensitive process, you can still enjoy yourself. Make sure that you aren’t moving on because people expect you to or because you think you should be. Rather, do it you want to and you’re ready to. Don’t rush your new relationship, and all the while, make sure to take care of yourself. If you have children, keep them in mind and give them time to become accustomed to this new person in your life. Remember that this is your choice and your life, make sure that you are ready and make it a good experience.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
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