You’ve been in a miserable marriage, going through a painful divorce, or are finally single. A frightening thought keeps racing through your mind… “Will I be loved again?”
Fear of not finding love again may keep you hostage in an unsatisfying marriage. It may haunt you if your spouse has abandoned you.
The thought of not finding love again tormented me as I wilted in a toxic marriage at the tender age of 24. Being a good Catholic girl, I struggled with the prospect of being treated like a second-class citizen by my church and dreaded putting myself out there in the dating game.
While I feared making another deadly mistake, I also entertained a burning desire to have a good man love me and accept me for who I was.
It is normal to feel sad and lonely while contemplating or going through a divorce. Craving an intimate connection with a partner is perfectly natural. Especially when you have been rejected by your partner or regret wasting your “best years” in a toxic marriage.
Being unhappily married, betrayed by a cheating spouse, or enduring a grueling divorce can also make you question your lovability and your capacity to love.
We all want to be loved. We were created to be and express love.
Make no mistake. We are all loving and lovable. And that includes you.
If, like me, you grew up with the axiom that, “When the king dies the king’s replaced,” you may be torn between giving yourself time to heal your wounds and rebuilding your life in a new relationship. You may feel pressure from well-meaning friends and family and wonder if something’s wrong with you for not leaping into the mysterious dating world.
So, when is it okay to date again?
There is no right time to start dating. It is a personal decision we all need to make honoring our feelings and evaluating our unique circumstances.
But there’s definitely a wrong time and plenty of wrong reasons to recouple.
Here are 7 particularly bad reasons to date after divorce:
1. You feel lonely or incomplete.
We grow up with the message that we need a man to be complete. That you need to be married to be somebody. A man is not the currency that determines your value as a woman. You’re valuable in your own right.
When you learn to enjoy your own company, you become free to enjoy yourself without depending on others for security or entertainment.
2. You want to numb your pain.
Divorce is painful and there’s no sugarcoating it. But time heals all and the pain will pass.
Recoupling prematurely to avoid the pain of divorce is like taking a painkiller to treat the pain caused by an infection. It will only mask the symptoms while the underlying cause will fester and possibly get worse over time.
Give yourself a chance to experience and process the pain. Take the time to reflect on your marriage and extract the lessons: how you ended up in this terrible situation, what you learned from it, and what you’d do better next time around.
3. You’re afraid you can’t survive on your own.
If you have never lived alone or if you’ve been married for a long time, you may feel overwhelmed by the prospect of having to support yourself, perhaps handling your finances for the first time, or not knowing what to do with yourself when you arrive at an empty home.
But hooking up with a man right away as a meal ticket or a life jacket exposes you to a relationship based on dependence and need. And that is disempowering. A healthy relationship is premised on equality and mutual respect.
Self-reliance breeds power. Dare to start a new profession, acquire new skills, and educate yourself on financial literacy. Not only does it create a foundation for a prosperous life; it can lead to new friendships and personal fulfillment.
4. You want your children to have a father figure in the home.
You may believe that children need a male figure and rush to bring a new man into your life.
A new mate is no substitute for your children’s real father. Not only does it place undue pressure on your new partner; it can also be painful or confusing for your kids who may not understand this new man’s role in their lives.
You are perfectly equipped to be a single parent. It may take some adjustments or support from your family or friends. But you can learn along the way and strengthen your relationship with your kids as a result of your new situation.
5. You need a partner to prove your desirability.
You are loving and lovable. Period. No partner can prove to you what you don’t believe to be true.
Practicing self-love and cultivating healthy self-worth are the conduits to attracting an adoring partner who will love you for who you are. You can only love and be loved by others when you love yourself first.
6. You want a partner to help you get over your ex.
Getting over your ex first and releasing any feelings towards him—whether love or hate—are prerequisites to happy recoupling. Not only it’s dishonest and unfair to a new partner to enter into a relationship while attached to someone else. It will also prevent you from establishing a meaningful connection. A relationship premised on deceit is unlikely to last or to be healthy.
7. You want to make your ex jealous.
Wanting to make your ex jealous is a sign that you are not over him yet. When you focus your energy on getting your ex’s attention, you are misdirecting the energy you need to rebuild your life.
You may be entertaining some of the above thoughts or feelings and wonder what is wrong with them. While you need to honor and process your emotions, you cannot allow them to run your love life.
Doing so is a recipe for disaster that guarantees failure. Being insecure or emotionally unavailable can lead you to attract the wrong partners, perpetuating the cycle of unsatisfying relationships.
Ensuring that you are ready to date will prime you for a successful relationship and prevent you from recycling the mistakes of your past. It is well worth your effort.
I waited four years after my divorce to start dating and have no regrets. I gave myself time to travel around the world, take on new hobbies and develop new friendships. In other words, I devoted myself to be happy and having fun. When I felt confident and fulfilled, I decided it was time to bring into a relationship the joy I had created for myself.
I met a few nice guys, dated the wrong one longer than I should have and, a few months after undoing that mistake, I met my current husband. I now live the high life with a kind, loving man, in a gorgeous home with three precious dogs while fulfilling my fondest dreams and many experiences I never imagined possible. It can happen to you, too.
Open your heart to creating a life you love—on your terms this time!