Are you thinking about dating after divorce? How about some ground rules to start things off right?
Divorce is kind of like that moment when we take a first step off of a merry-go-round that’s been spinning so fast that we’ve become dizzy and disoriented. We know we want to get off because we can’t bear the nauseating blur of life whizzing past any longer; but, the earth below our feet seems less than solid, and we’re not sure where we’re headed next. Many of us stumble around for a bit while we regain our footing and the earth stops wavering, and some of will lose our lunch because the situation makes us feel so lousy!
So what comes next? While life settles to a place of relative calmness again, one-by-one each of us will eventually consider whether or not we want to date again. The answer to that question and the timing for that next step will vary for each of us. One thing that we all must do before opening the door for romance again is establish some rules. No one says these have to be etched in stone; but, following a divorce, making thoughtless and regrettable mistakes is not necessarily a place we should want to re-visit!
My ground rules for dating the next time around:
I will date when I’m ready and not to give in to the pressure of others who tell me that it’s time. It’s time when I say it’s time, and when I know that I’m mentally and emotionally in a good spot to meet someone new.
I won’t give into fears of being alone and let that somehow make me think that I need to find someone, anyone to avoid solitude. Being with the wrong person is worse than time in my own company, and it’s surely not a sign that I’m flawed in any way!
I will keep my humor and patience about me because I realize that dating is often a trial and error process. Not every date will be a success, but that doesn’t mean I should give up, blame myself, or develop a negative attitude about myself or the fish in the sea.
I won’t put unnecessary pressure on myself or my dates for something serious. I can’t expect to find Prince Charming on the first date, nor will I always recognize the one for me as soon as we meet. Dating is a time to get to know others as well as a time to fine tune what we want in a partner; so, this is an opportunity to learn about myself while I learn about others, and I am not in a hurry!
I will be clear about my fundamental needs in a partner while open to what package that opportunity may present itself in. My “type” didn’t necessarily work out in the past, so maybe I need to be open-minded to different personalities, appearances, and so on.
I need to evaluate why my “type” is what I tend to go for. Am I trying to recreate a past relationship? What is it about those specific qualities that entice me? Have those qualities ended up being positive or detrimental?
I will be open to trying new methods of dating that I haven’t tried before. Online dating and other newer methods have become the primary way people are meeting to date these days, not so many connections made by friends and loved ones. I will talk to other single friends and use their advice to guide me on my path.
I will be honest with myself and my dates about my relationship intentions. Maybe the first foray into the dating scene might be simply to find a no-strings-attached companion for a few laughs and whatever else might follow. Perhaps entering the dating pool is a sign of being healed enough from divorce to be ready for a new relationship? Whatever the case, my date and I should be on the same page from the start so that expectations are in line and no feelings are hurt.
I will not jump into bed before I’m ready to take that step. My body is mine to control, and I won’t be pressured into something I’m not ready for or get caught up in the heat of the moment and regret it later. Coming out of divorce and a long dry spell without intimacy can make the prospect of sex with a new person very enticing; but, it can also create many complications I’m not ready for yet.
I will be in touch with my own needs and my development as an individual before becoming part of a couple. Divorce is a massive life-changing event that requires time to overcome. I need to become re-acquainted and fall back in love with myself before I share my heart with anyone else.
What rules will you establish for yourself before deciding to date after divorce? No matter what dating do’s or don’ts are established, they can offer a guide to get started on a new adventure. After a bad relationship, becoming involved in a new variation of dysfunction is the last thing we want to do!
We will continue to make mistakes and learn as we progress through this next phase of life, and that’s okay! The rules can evolve as time goes by; but, at least they provide some structure and standards that may deter us from giving in to impulse or otherwise not being true to ourselves. Divorce has a way of turning everything upside down; but, after the pieces fall, they usually come back together in ways that prove happiness is still ours for the taking, and a new partner worthy of us may be out there!
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