The ink isn’t dry on the page of your divorce decree, but you think you’re ready to move on. How do you know if the time is right for romance or if you’re simply trying to fill a void? Since every-one is different there’s no pat answer for how much time you should take before dating again. How soon you are able to emotionally move forward depends on your circumstances. Consider these four “starting-over” styles to help you decide what’s best for you.
No time like the present: If your divorce has a long time in the making you may have moved on emotionally years ago. Perhaps you stay together for practical reasons and the divorce is now anti-climatic. If this is your scenario, re-joining single life right away may feel healthy. Chances are you’ve given thought to what qualities you would like in your next relationship. Better yet, you may have done the inner work to prepare yourself for this time when you have the opportunity to start anew.
Need time to heal: if your divorce has been emotionally exhausting, you may need time to re-cover. Although it could be tempting to jump into another relationship and reassure yourself that you’re still desirable, if you’re still grieving or angry, take your time. You may end up in a superficial rebound relationship that could do more harm than good. It can be hard to know if you’re using another relationship to heal the wounds left by your divorce. It might be time to get a professional opinion and seek the help of a skilled therapist or counselor who can provide you with some perspective on your motives.
Keep options open: If you’re still figuring out what to do next with your life personally and professionally consider taking a more casual approach to dating. Will you be changing careers? Moving across town or across the country? Taking up new hobbies or interests? It may be one of the few times you’ll get to do exactly what you want to do without considering anyone else! If your life is influx, perhaps it’s best to enjoy the freedom and forgo serious romance for a while. If you do decide to date, be honest and set boundaries before getting into a serious relationship.
Make friends first: Rather than run headlong into a romance, consider establishing platonic relationships with members of the opposite sex while you recover from divorce. You may already have guys or gals with whom you were friends and who are readily available for fun activities. Having friends of the opposite sex may also provide you with the chance to get a different point of view about men or women while you reestablish yourself as a single person.
Remember, moving forward after divorce is a process. You may find that your starting-over style changes over time. And that’s fine too! Allow yourself the chance to find out what works best for you.