For couples with tumultuous relationships, divorce can feel like a relief – the hurt subsides and the healing can begin. After a divorce is final, a new start can be an invigorating prospect.
After the divorce dust settles, men and women can and should move forward with their lives and potentially find happiness with someone new. At the beginning, the idea of dating can seem daunting and terrifying, especially if there are kids involved.
In order for dating to feel like a positive and fun experience after divorce, you should consider these three important things:
Every person handles divorce differently. There is no set time limit for when you should feel ready to start dating again. For some, it may take years while others want to start dating immediately. Don’t feel the need to compare yourself to other divorcees. Try to analyze your emotions and motivations for wanting to date again – trying to fill a void is not a healthy reason for dating. Ideally, you should be happy and healthy yourself before allowing another person into your life, even if that takes a few years.
2. Emotional State:
Emotional strength and availability are essential when beginning to date again. If you are still grieving the loss of your marriage, take some more time for yourself before dating. No healthy relationship can blossom if you are still thinking or are scarred from the past. Also, be selective about whom you choose to date. If you find dating to be too overwhelming, start by making friends first. Forming friendships can be fun, and you may find a new potential relationship contender through your friends.
If you have children, it is crucial that you spend time understanding their feelings before dating again. You need to be sensitive to the fact that children also go through a grieving process after their parents’ divorce and that process cannot be rushed. Many children hold on to the hope that their parents may still get back together and thus interpret new relationships as obstacles to that goal or an attempt to replace the other parent. Kids should gently and lovingly be made aware that the divorce is final, but no one is getting replaced.
How much you disclose to your child about dating definitely depends on their age. Young kids don’t need to know too many details until the relationship becomes serious. need to be privy to more information since they are much more likely to notice what is going on in your life. You will want to avoid bringing your new partner into your children’s lives until you are completely positive you want a long term relationship with him or her. Stability is extremely important in a kid’s life after divorce.
Breaking up with someone they have grown attached to can be another a devastating blow to a child already shaken by a break-up. And even when you feel the time is right to share your new happiness with your child, don’t expect them to jump for joy. They may be angry and frustrated and throw fits or treat your new partner rudely. Just give them time to adjust and ask them to be respectful. Over time, they may come to like this new person in your lives and like how happy you are because of it.
Entering into a new relationship may feel disconcerting at times, so don’t start dating because others expect you to or because you feel like you should. Do it because you feel emotionally ready and want to! It is important to put yourself first and not to rush into anything. Allow your children time to adjust as well. Make dating an enjoyable experience as it is your life to live!
Malini Bhatia is the founder and CEO of marriage.com, a website dedicated to providing value in every marriage, including resources, information and a community that supports healthy happy marriages. Bhatia has global experience in international management and communications. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband of 11 years and two daughters.
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