No, You Don't Have To Date After Your Divorce

Divorce is one of the hardest situations that a person can go through. Even when you know the decision to end your marriage is the right one, there are many emotions that come along with the divorce process, and they can be difficult to deal with. However, it's important to understand that the emotional stress of divorce should be dealt with in a healthy manner. Of course, it's normal to feel an array of emotions during divorce. You may feel sad, lonely, angry, guilty, and more. It's essential that you go easy on yourself during this tough experience, and that you find a group of people to talk to during difficult times. Having support from friends, family members, or even a therapist can make a huge difference in the healing process post-divorce.

There are many things to consider following the end of a marriage, and one of those things is when to date again. Some people may find it comforting to get back into the dating scene as soon as possible. Meanwhile, others may need to take their time when it comes to looking for love again. In addition, some people may show absolutely no interest in dating following a divorce, and that is just fine.

In fact, there is much to take into consideration before getting back into the dating pool. There are also many ways to spend your time after getting a divorce that will allow you to learn and grow as a person that don't require dating.

Take time to mourn the end of your marriage before jumping into the dating pool

It can be difficult to navigate your changing world following a divorce. However, finding your new normal will be key in allowing yourself to move on, and eventually begin to date again if that's in your plans. However, before many people can consider dating again, they need to fully grieve and let go of their marriage. Signing divorce papers isn't the final step to ending a marriage, there is hard work to be done in the following weeks and months after divorce, and going through your emotions is one step that needs to be dealt with.

Pay attention to your feelings and validate them. Look to cope with your device in healthy ways, such as journaling, therapy, spending time with loved ones, or even physical activity such as exercising. Allow yourself to come to terms with the fact that your marriage is over and try to forgive yourself, as well as your ex-spouse for all the things that went wrong in your relationship.

During this time in the divorce process, dating isn't something that many would consider a good idea. "Grief can dull your senses, making it more difficult to be your genuine self," divorce coach Dr. Karen Finn tells Fatherly. "A fluctuating emotional context of grief isn't a good foundation for a new relationship. It isn't fair to you or the person you're involved with," she adds.

Look to rediscover yourself after a divorce

After a divorce, life can seem confusing and scary. However, this is an ideal time to rediscover yourself and find out who you are on your own. Spending time alone may sound sad, but it could be the thing that makes you feel like you're coming back to life following the end of your marriage. Do things that you've always wanted to do, whether that's as simple as jumping into your reading list, taking a vacation you've always dreamed of, moving to a new town, starting a new career, picking up a fun hobby, or doing something more drastic like skydiving. 

Whatever your heart feels called to do may be just the thing you need to help move on and find yourself post-divorce. "In a marriage, you are a slightly different person. As much as we want and try to maintain our identity, the reality is that's not always the case," dating coach Laurel House tells Reader's Digest, adding that embracing the single life is a great way to find yourself after a split.

Meanwhile, dating before you are able to come to terms with your divorce and figure out who you are without a partner could lead to toxic or codependent relationships. So, try dating yourself before you look to find love elsewhere.

Prioritize yourself post-divorce

Although you may feel pressured to date after a divorce, there is one person who should be taking priority over all others, and that's yourself. Your friends and family members may want to set you up with their single buddies. However, taking care of yourself should be at the top of your list before you can even think about entering into a relationship. Self-care is an important part of everyone's lives, but you might find yourself seeking out a bit more of it during the turbulent divorce process. Finding ways to enjoy your newfound freedom by pampering yourself can make a huge difference in your emotional and mental well-being.

Self-care looks different for everyone. For you it may consist of taking a hot bath, curling up with a good book, or heading to the spa for a massage. For others, it may be eating their favorite meal, baking something tasty in the kitchen, or binge-watching their favorite Netflix series. Others may look to their friends and family as a form of self-care, being social and having fun experiences with their loved ones may make their soul happy.

Whatever self-care looks like for you, be sure that you don't neglect yourself at a time when you should be looking for wellness in your mind, body, and spirit.

Focus on your children

Divorce is hard for everyone involved, and if you have children it can make the situation all the more difficult. Figuring out the best way to help your kids adapt to divorce and what their new family dynamic will be can prove to be difficult for some. For this reason, dating after divorce can prove to be all the more challenging. Many people feel as though dating after divorce may take a toll on their children, and they want to respect their kids' feelings about getting into a new relationship.

As you focus on self-discovery and self-care following a divorce, more attention paid to your children's feelings during this time is also key. Seeing their parent with a new partner can be triggering for little ones and even teens. So, ensuring that they understand the situation in an age-appropriate way is crucial. Of course, if and when the time comes that you do decide to date again, letting your dating partner know that your kids are a priority is a big early step.

"If you have a child, your child is your priority. If the person you're dating has a problem with that, they're not for you," dating coach Laurel House reveals to Reader's Digest.

Figure out what you want for the future

After divorce your life will look different. As time goes on, you'll figure out new routines, ways to keep yourself busy, and even socialize without your ex-spouse by your side. You'll likely begin to feel yourself settling into your new life. Whether you choose to begin dating again, or simply want to remain single, planning for the future is helpful.

Look ahead and decide what you want to accomplish going forward. Is there a career goal you've been working towards, perhaps there's a place you've always wanted to travel to, or maybe you have more personal goals such as starting a family. Whatever the future looks like for you, understanding your own specific wants and needs are crucial to accomplishing your goals. Of course, if finding love again is part of your future plans, you'll want to be clear about what you're looking for out of a relationship, and understand why your marriage didn't work. Having realistic expectations for dating is also key.

Whether you choose to date in the future or remain single, it's important to keep yourself healthy and truly heal from the toll that a divorce can take on you.