First Relationship After Divorce Success: What You Should Know

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By Brette Sember, JD Updated Aug 28, 2023


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First Relationship After Divorce Success: What You Should Know

Divorce can leave you with a broken heart, but as the saying goes, time heals all wounds. If you’re ready to find love again, there are plenty of new factors to consider.

Not every relationship has the potential to be your “happily ever after.”

Still, there are many steps you can take to increase your chances of forming a successful long-term relationship with a new partner.

First Relationship After Divorce Success: What You Should Know

Wait Until You’re Ready

Becoming single for the first time in a long time can dramatically shift your life. You may feel out of your element, and this might lead you to pursue a long-term relationship too soon. It may be better for you to hit the pause button and consider what you’re looking for in a significant other.

If you’re used to having a partner, navigating life as a single person can be strange and awkward. Relationships — especially unsuccessful ones — tend to foster codependence.

While it’s great to have someone to lean on, you’ll need to learn to rely on yourself again before stepping back into the dating scene.

The time you spend outside a relationship will help you reconnect with who you are and what you want. What do you want to do when you’re calling all the shots?

What’s important to you? What makes you happy? What kinds of experiences do you like to share with other people?

When you feel secure in who you are and have a better sense of independence, you can cautiously approach the idea of finding a new relationship.

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Process What You’ve Learned From Your Last Relationship

There’s never been a divorce in which both partners were perfect people all the time. The odds are good that there are probably some things you wish you would have done differently.

If you know that you tend to avoid talking about your feelings or get jealous quickly, work on those things first. If they create problems in your marriage, they will likely create problems in your next relationship.

Many people find that they benefit from therapy after a divorce. You may have to learn new ways to communicate, find healthy coping mechanisms, and recognize red flags that may spell trouble for your romantic future.

You may also need to process hurt feelings. If you feel betrayed by your former spouse or if your former spouse was abusive to you, you might have trouble opening yourself to the idea of finding another partner.

You don’t have to find another partner if you don’t want to, but you deserve to heal either way.

Realize That You’ve Changed

When you first started dating your former spouse, your goals and priorities in life were different. You may have been seeking things that you’ve since found.

You may have been more ambitious at the beginning of that relationship before settling into a job you love. You may have dreamed of becoming a business owner, and now you are one.

The most important question is this: Who are you now?

Think about what you want your future to look like, and imagine that future without a partner. What would you like to accomplish if you were on your own from this point forward? What would your independent goals be?

Once you have a decent idea of the type of future that would make you happy, you have a decent idea of the kind of partner who would fit into that future. If you start actively looking for a partner, you’ll know the qualities, goals, and interests your ideal partner should have.

Forget about what you think your “type” is and focus on finding someone who understands you in a meaningful way.

Learn the Difference Between Chemistry and Connection

You can have great chemistry with someone but absolutely no meaningful connection. A relationship requires both things.

You may enjoy flirting with someone or spending time with them, but that doesn’t mean the person you’re having fun with is serious relationship material. Sometimes, you’re better off reserving exciting chemistry for less serious flings or fulfilling friendships.

Relationships need to be sustainable. In a relationship, you share goals and aspirations with someone. You’re building a future together. You have dreams that you both work towards and want similar things out of life.

While it’s important to have chemistry with your partner, the connection you share is just as important.

Don’t Play the Comparison Game

Many people are bothered by a new partner’s constant comparisons to an ex.

Your new partner won’t want to hear about your previous marriage in great detail, at least not at first. They certainly won’t want to be outwardly compared to someone you’ve divorced.

While making small comparisons in the back of your mind is normal, keep them in the back of your mind. The comparisons will come, but you should let them pass your mind without lingering.

Remember: you are with a completely new person. That person wants to know that you’re thinking about your future together rather than dwelling on your past.

Remember That Your New Partner Isn’t Your Former Spouse

You might have fallen into patterns if you were married for a long time. You’re used to your spouse doing certain things for you or assuming specific responsibilities. You already know what movies you should see or what restaurants you should go to. Your previous relationship became a part of your identity and your routine.

When you start a new relationship, you begin with a clean slate. You shouldn’t have any assumptions about this person’s role in your life. You’re starting over and building a new relationship together.

Your new partner will have new wants, needs, and desires. Their role in your life may be completely different. If you need them in a specific way, you shouldn’t assume they know how to be there for you.

You need to communicate the things you want or need in a relationship. Your new partner may or may not be able to provide those things for you. That’s okay. They don’t need to be everything your former spouse was. You can approach your relationship with a new attitude or find a relationship that’s more suitable to what you need.

Use Caution With Dating Sites or Apps

If you have been married for a long time, you probably need to gain experience with modern dating sites or apps. You don’t know how to spot red flags. Apps and sites are loaded with romance scams, where people ask for money or claim to be somewhere overseas.

There are also a lot of “catfish” situations. A catfish uses photos of someone else or dramatically alters their pictures to the point where they’re not recognizable. You may be in for a surprise when you meet up in person.

And to that point, ALWAYS meet someone from the internet in a public space for the first few times AND let someone trusted know where you are, or even track your phone.

Remember that everything isn’t always what it seems on the internet.

There’s nothing wrong with meeting people on the internet - many have done so successfully, but don’t forget the old-fashioned way at concerts, local events, religious services, or hobby classes.

Think Carefully Before Approaching a Second Marriage

While many people still enjoy happy, healthy relationships after a divorce, it’s important to note that statistics don’t favor second marriages. With each additional marriage, the potential for divorce significantly increases.

There is no longer a stigma surrounding unmarried couples living together in the United States. It’s common for people in long-term relationships to live together — or even buy homes together — without getting married.

You don’t need to make marriage the goal of every relationship, especially if your partner doesn’t feel strongly about getting married. You can live like you’re married without the paperwork. Some states even recognize this arrangement as a valid form of marriage.

If marriage is still important to you, take your time. Stay together for a few years, and ensure you’re emotionally and mentally prepared to take your relationship to the next level.

If you decide to get married, remember that tools like prenuptial agreements can help to protect you if this marriage doesn’t work out the way you’d hoped it would.

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Remember: You Deserve To Be Happy

A divorce is challenging, and you deserve happiness once you come out on the other side.

You may decide that you enjoy your own company so much that you’d rather stay single. You may decide that you’re ready to get married again or even that you’d like to have more children.

As long as you’ve carefully considered what you want your future to look like and you’ve made sure to take care of yourself, you can move at a comfortable pace.

Statistics don’t determine whether your first relationship after divorce will succeed — you and your new partner do.

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