By Divorce.com staff
Updated Nov 16, 2022
It’s never fun when a relationship comes to an end. When breakups or divorces happen, it can be hard to cope. After all, divorce can be a huge mental and emotional burden. Not to mention, traditional divorce proceedings can be quite lengthy, prolonging the overall stress and heartache.
Once we’ve developed such a deep bond with a person, only to have it come to an end, we might find ourselves wondering, “Will I ever find love again?” The good news is, you can. Just because one relationship didn’t work out doesn’t mean there isn’t another match out there for you.
So, are you thinking of getting back into the dating world after a breakup? Dating after divorce isn’t always easy, but it’s not impossible. Keep reading for some tips on putting yourself back out there with confidence at a pace that’s right for you.
1. Allow Time for Yourself To Heal
Healing isn’t linear, so there’ll be ups and downs. It’s important to take your time after a relationship ends and give yourself room to recover. Jumping into a new relationship too quickly after a breakup could lead to avoidable stress and have a negative impact on your mental health.
When people are hurting, it can cause us to become impulsive and seek instant gratification to avoid the hurt. So, it might be tempting to search for companionship in an effort to distract yourself from your heartbreak — but you’ll likely end up regretting it in the long run.
Prioritizing self-care and allowing time for yourself to heal means you’ll be a better partner in any future relationships you may have. Delayed gratification is often much more rewarding because the process isn’t rushed. At the end of the day, experiencing life’s best moments requires patience and self-work.
2. Identify and Acknowledge Past Wrongs
Before we can move forward with a new relationship after a divorce, we need to understand what went wrong the first time. This way, we can avoid repeating the same mistakes and spot issues when they arise instead of long after. You’ll need to figure out where the breakdown happened and identify its root cause(s), but sometimes, that’s easier said than done.
Here are a few questions you could ask yourself to get started:
- Were you or your spouse abusive or neglectful towards each other?
- Did either of you have trust issues that caused you to lash out?
- Were household and familial responsibilities divided evenly?
- Did you make important decisions without consulting one another?
- Were your morals, belief systems, and values in alignment?
Every situation is different, so the questions that rise to the surface for you may look different than they would for us. Take some time to sit with your thoughts, identify where the breakdown happened, and highlight traits you don’t want in a future partner. You can even consult a psychologist or family therapist to help you get back into the dating world with more confidence.
3. Figure Out What You’re Looking For
Another important step to take before you start dating again is to figure out what you want from a partner. No one is perfect, but it’s important to set standards for the types of people you’ll allow into your life — and which characteristics you’re not willing to compromise on.
So, what are your expectations for a future partner? If you’d like to be married again, make sure the person you decide to date next wants the same thing. Perhaps you’re looking for someone who loves the same hobbies as you or someone who is the polar opposite of you so that there’s always something new to talk about.
Do you want kids? Maybe you have a few already. In either case, you’ll want to be certain that whomever you bring into your life would be a healthy and responsible parental figure. It will take some self-reflection to determine what makes you happy and the type of partner you’ll need to truly thrive in life, but try not to settle for anything less.
4. Reconnect With Loved Ones
Quality time with the people closest to us can do wonders during the healing process. There’s no need to rush through the stages of grief; let yourself feel it all. We should allow the people we love to support us through the rocky parts of our lives and celebrate our good days alongside us.
Many times when people are in relationships (especially abusive ones), we may not be able to make as much time for our families as we’d like. It’s okay to slow down and rekindle relationships you might have allowed to slip away during the time you were married.
Your friends and family can get you out of the house and into the sunlight. They can also be a shoulder to cry on or a warm hug on your worst days. Healing is never an overnight process. These things take time, and if you try to get through it alone, it could have a negative impact on your mental well-being.
5. Leave the Past Where It Belongs
Whenever you’re thinking about seeing someone new, it can be extremely helpful to make sure you’ve let go of any negativity from your past relationship. When we’re still hanging on to that pain, we can’t be fully present for any new person that enters into our lives. Even worse — we may compare our past partner to our potential new partner, and that’s not fair to them.
It’s good to be cautious and make sure you aren’t repeating the same mistakes as before … but if it gets to the point where you’re punishing a good partner for the mistakes of a bad one, you might not be ready to re-enter the dating world just yet. When your ex-spouse doesn’t cross your mind every time you meet a new person, and you’re able to enjoy dates and be open without hesitation, you’ll know you’re healing.
6. Be Realistic
As discussed in tip number three, it’s important to set standards for the types of people we allow into your life. Make sure you’re setting standards that are realistic. Everyone loves a good fairytale, but not every Prince Charming (or princess) looks like the ones in the movies. It can be easy to miss out on something amazing by being hung up on the wrong things.
So, what does being realistic look like? It means seeking out someone you could see a future with, not just someone who is pleasing to the eye. Being realistic means accepting that no one is going to check all of your boxes and being open to giving a chance to someone who doesn’t.
Remember, looks fade, and if you’re open you might find that not all of the items on your list were as important as you once thought.
7. Don’t Date Until the Paperwork Is Final
It’s a good idea to finalize your divorce before starting a new relationship. You’ll have a difficult time committing to anyone new if you’re still stuck in that previous chapter of your life. Not to mention, if the new relationship becomes serious and you want to get married again, you won’t be able to until your divorce is final.
Traditional divorce proceedings can take several weeks, months, or even years if your ex-spouse is being difficult. Waiting until you tie up the loose ends won’t be fun, especially when you’re trying to move on with your life. So, make sure you’re legally divorced before dating someone new — it could save you a lot of stress and heartache.
8. Be Patient While You Wait
Even when we’re ready to re-enter the dating world, it doesn’t necessarily mean the right people will flock to us. Sometimes we’ll have to deal with people who aren’t a good match, partners who don’t treat us with respect, or ones who remind us of our ex-spouses.
Patience is key when it comes to reimagining the future. This may not be how you planned for your life to go, but you’ll be so much stronger in the long run if you can accept the bumps in the road with grace. Plus, the toughest situations have a way of helping people appreciate the best ones even more.
9. Be Open To New Types of People
Not everyone has a specific type of person they’re drawn to, but many do. What’s your type? Once you figure out the answer, start practicing shifting your mindset. You can start small. For example, if you typically go for a partner that’s the loudest one in every room they enter, try dating someone who is the opposite.
It isn’t always easy to be open to trying new things, experiencing new situations, or meeting new types of people. Change can be very daunting, but staying complacent is how people get stuck in life and stunt their personal growth. If you’re willing to put in the work and change your mindset a bit, you can see positive results. Perhaps the person you’d otherwise overlook is your future soulmate.
10. Try Not To Give Up on Love
When someone gets their heart broken, especially if it’s more than once, it can be difficult to maintain a positive mindset about potential future relationships. The more hurt we experience, the more difficult it is to trust that people who pursue us have genuine intentions and won’t cause us more pain. It’s unfortunate, but pain is a part of life, and everyone faces it at some point or another.
Closing yourself off to new experiences with new people isn’t healthy. Humans crave interaction because it’s necessary, and isolating yourself from others as a defense mechanism could cause you harm in the long run. Try not to abandon all hope of finding someone who is the ideal match for you. With so many people in the world, you’re bound to find someone who makes it worthwhile to take the leap again.
Tie Up Loose Ends Faster
Divorces can be stressful and lengthy processes, but they don’t have to be. Services like on-demand mediation are available for couples who need help reaching a settlement agreement but don’t want to deal with the court system or can’t afford to pay for individual attorneys.
Mediation can be a more cost-effective solution that saves you time as well. You don’t need a lawyer or attorney to act as your mediator, but you can have one if you wish. A mediator is a neutral third party who is typically not a legal expert. Therefore, they can’t offer legal advice, but they can guide you through the divorce process.
Mediation can be a good option for couples who are able to sit down and work through their issues peacefully. If you and your spouse have a lot of tension and don’t agree on anything, you’ll probably need to consult a divorce attorney. A mediator can’t represent you in court unless they happen to be an attorney as well.
Take Back the Life You Deserve
Mental and emotional burnout are not to be taken lightly, and breakups can take a major toll on a person’s mental health. You deserve to live a life that makes you feel happy and whole, not one that drains all of your energy. When recovering from the end of a relationship, just remember that healing is not linear, so you’ll have some rough days, and that’s normal.
Be gentle with yourself and take the time you need to heal. When you’re committed to prioritizing self-care, loving yourself first, and not forcing interactions, the people you’re supposed to meet will find their way to you.