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The Dos and Don'ts of Dating After Divorce

My ex-wife’s absence created a huge void in my life after my divorce in 2015. I didn’t know who I was or how I was supposed to be because my identity had been inextricable with my role as husband. With nothing but time on my hands to be miserable, my natural and most obvious recourse was to date to fill the void and ease the pain with the company and affection of women.

I quickly learned that the real world, aka “The Streets,” was filled with people who were in just as much pain as I was. Like me, they were traumatized and lowkey bitter. Like me, they were broken and looking for someone to not only help them put the pieces back together but to hold them in place. My self-esteem was in the trash, my energy was low, and all I knew was what I had lost. Because of all this, I was not a good person to date. Outside of friends and family, I didn't need to be around anyone new. I decided to take a timeout from dating and make time for myself before getting back out there.

Date and Love Yourself First

During the eighteen months I wasn't dating, I learned there is power in being able to enjoy life by yourself. Don't believe the hype that you have to be #couplesgoals. Learning how to spend time alone and enjoying whatever I was doing improved my ability to show up as my authentic self when dating. If you can enjoy being by yourself, then another person won’t be the key to your enjoyment. They'll be the icing that makes the experience better. The opposite is also true. Once you know personal satisfaction and fulfillment, you’ll know sooner, not later, when someone isn't a good match for you and vice versa. You'll be less inclined to stick around with the hopes that things will get better. You'll know better.

Don’t Take It Personal

Trauma doesn't exist in silos. No matter how amicable, divorce is a major life-changing event. It's easy to believe you're the only one going through something, and no one else's experiences trump yours. Once you get back out there on the dating scene, you become exposed to people from all walks of life who have experienced plenty. Don't take it personally if you meet someone and things don't click. It probably has nothing to do with you, even if they say or act as if it does. We want everyone to understand what we're going through and often use our own experiences to excuse our bad behavior. Put yourself in that other person's shoes and extend them the same courtesy. Apply the saying, "It's not you, it's me," to your benefit. When something doesn't work out, don't take it as an insult (barring actual insults), but a blessing. You're being spared. As a divorcee, the less drama in your life, the better.

Don’t Get Even

There is nothing wrong with proving things to yourself. It is absolutely healthy to set goals and then work to achieve them. However, if you’re dating because you’ve got something to prove, then please stop and take a seat. You don't have to prove to your ex or anyone else you're a catch. Don't fetishize a woman by making her your trophy to get back at what was done to you. It's not fair to her. No one cares, and everyone knows you're just showing off. There is nothing wrong with the occasional ego boost, but you need to know your value without outside input. Examine your motives.

Manage Your Expectations

You alone are responsible for your happiness and peace. When it comes to dating, never hang your hopes and expectations on someone else. If you do, you are ensuring your dating life will be one of constant disappointment. You run the risk of becoming bitter — the one thing you don't need to be after a divorce. Freeing yourself of expectations frees you up to be surprised when dates go well and not to be disappointed when they don’t. In the same vein, it also allows you to potentially be a breath of fresh air to that person sitting across the table from you who’s hoping for the best, just like you.

Do, however, expect the best for yourself. Doing this allows you to create standards and boundaries for what you deem as acceptable from others.

Have Fun

Every person you meet isn’t going to be Mrs. Right, nor should they. Dating is about meeting people, having a good time, and learning about yourself. It puts to the test who you are and how you show up with other people. Having a good time doesn't mean having multiple, no-strings-attached rendezvous, although there is nothing wrong with an agreed-upon arrangement between two consenting adults. Having a good time means enjoying the activity you’re partaking in and the company of the person you're who is with you. Dating is the testing ground for being exclusive with someone. Being exclusive is the testing ground for potentially popping the question. If you’re dating to get married, you risk putting undue pressure on yourself and the person you’re hanging out with to get it right the first time, every time. You're going into it expecting the most, and you're putting undue pressure on someone to be “wife” material. Someone who is “wife” material may not be "friend" material. After divorce, who wants to spend time with someone who isn't their friend first?

Learn, Live, Love, Laugh

Divorce is tough. It is the end of a marriage, but it isn’t the end of you. Don't allow the disappointment of the past to rule your present and future. Get back out there. Be smart. Love yourself. Check your motives. Honor your boundaries and have fun.

Eric Payne

Check out our Family Issue.

1 Comment

Gerth Sniper
Gerth Sniper
Jan 27, 2023

Well, you know i'm in the same situation. I've divorced a half a year ago and only now i feel that i need to move on further. Thus i try to find someone new to date, but for now i've only found girls for one night, but i think that in future i will be able to find someone who will support me and be my next wife, or at least girlfriend. Byt he way i use a lot of dating websites as i think that this is the best option for me.

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