“The wrong relationships teach you how to recognize the right one when it arrives” – anonymous. But only when we stop and take the time to change…
When you said “I do,” you entered into an entirely new world of couple-hood. But, unfortunately, sometimes things don’t work out as you plan. If you have gone through a divorce, come out the other end, and are now considering the potential of trying love again, dating might not be what you remember. And you might also have other things in your life that might make the process slightly more complex and challenging, like children. So taking the time to evaluate before you put yourself out there is not only healthy, it could be critical to finding a stable and healthy relationship.
Divorce is a very traumatizing thing that often comes with emotional scars that can taint the way that you trust, your expectations of other people, and the outlook you have for a “happily ever after”. But to have success learning to love again, you have to try to put the past in the past, forgive, and move forward without any baggage.
1. Make Sure You Are Really Ready
Sometimes we think that we are over a situation and healing, but we aren’t. If you can’t go through a conversation without bringing up your ex, talking about your divorce, or just, in general, being angry about what happened, then you might need some more time to recover before you try to hop back into love. If you don’t give it enough time, you might end up falling for the wrong person. Or, being unavailable should you meet the right person, or making poor decisions in dating and love.
Ask yourself if you are looking to replace what is lost. Or if you are secure enough on your own and would like someone to make your life richer. The sting of divorce takes a long time to go away. Make sure that your hurt is healed before you go too quickly into something and get stung again. According to Randi Gunther Ph.D., taking a relationship readiness questionnaire might help you to decide if you are ready to find love again.
2. Don’t Rush Into Love
After being in a relationship where things aren’t going well, the euphoria of being in love can be intoxicating. But like any other drug, it can have potential downsides too. If you try to move too quickly, then you won’t take the time to make sure that it is right. Slow things down and get to know the person you are dating before you jump right into “love”. Not only will that help you keep a healthy perspective; it will help your children get used to the idea of someone else occupying space in their life. If you don’t give enough time for everyone to become accustomed, you might create a whole lot of confusion.
3. Be Honest
If you are afraid that finding love with children is going to be more difficult, unfortunately, it might be. But it is never healthy to hide the fact that you have children. If you aren’t honest with your potential mate, it will create an atmosphere of distrust in your relationship. And it will be hard to extinguish once they find out the truth.
Also, since your children should be the biggest priority in your life and to finding the right mate, it is important to fall in love with someone who loves all of you. Don’t think that you can fall in love with someone who doesn’t want children and they will change. A relationship should be based on honesty and wanting the same things in life. If they don’t want children, that will do nothing but create a rift in your relationship. And it might also negatively impact your relationship with your children.
4. Examine Your “Type”
Not to state the obvious, but there is a reason why your first marriage didn’t work. If there were some redeeming qualities about your ex that you simply couldn’t live with, evaluate what they were. Typically we have a “type” of individual that we find attractive. But just because we are attracted to someone, that doesn’t make it healthy or right.
What you likely found was that once the “attraction” part of your relationship with your ex was over, you were forced to see all the other parts of their personality that didn’t meld right with yours. It might be necessary to consider that the people that you usually go out with aren’t exactly the right “fit”. And you might seek out people who might not entirely match your type. Maybe they aren’t all that you think you need, but they are actually what you need in your life.
Also, dating your “type” might limit your ability to find love. According to psychologist Nikki Martinez, “when we pigeonhole ourselves with a certain type, we miss out on many people and opportunities that might actually be a better fit than what we assume is right for us”. So keep your mind open to meeting someone you might not normally notice will broaden your chances of love too!
5. Find Someone Your Age
Although it is alluring to go out with people who bring out the youth in you, eventually the differences in your age will catch up. What science knows is that the happiest marriages are the ones where partners have a lot in common. The “older or younger” than you scenario usually does not work out the way that you want.
Eventually, the attraction dies, and what you have are two people who don’t see things the same. You will probably have little in common and won’t have similar life goals or shared experiences to build on. Try to find someone who is not only about the same age, but also someone who is in the same “stage” of life that you are.
After compiling 13 years of data encompassing over 8,000 households and nearly 20,000 people, the Household, Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia found that people who enter into relationships with younger partners do well at the start of their relationship, but that their relationship tends to sour as time goes one. And as the age gap widens, the satisfaction tends to be the dissolution of the relationship. So finding someone your own age will most likely lead to a better outcome.
6. Leave Your Ex out of it!
There is nothing that will ruin a nice evening more than talk of your ex. Your date is not your therapy session nor do they want to be. Nothing is more unattractive to a potential mate than hearing all the wrongs of your previous spouse, or their shortcomings. If you incessantly talk about your ex, it will also signal your current mate that you aren’t entirely over them.
Once you have gotten over your past relationship and are ready to move on, move on. They have no bearing on your current relationship. And if you keep bringing them into it, you are going to work your way out of the current relationship. That is not to say that you can’t ever speak of your former spouse, but when you do, try to be positive and not carry resentment. Anger and resentment are not attractive traits, but ones that tend to push people away.
7. Include Your Children
As much as it is important not to lie about your children to a potential mate, it is equally important not to lie to your children about dating again. When you feel that you are ready to start to meet other people, it is critical to have a conversation with your kids about it to avoid hurt feelings, fear, and confusion. They might not be very receptive at first, it might take time. But hiding it and leading a double life is not the answer either. If they do find out, it will create distrust in your relationship with your children.
You don’t have to, and shouldn’t, give them the full details of your dating life, but giving them a heads up is essential to allow them to find their new normal and to feel secure that they are a part of your future and know what to expect. That way, when and if you are ready to introduce them to someone you care about, they will already have had time to deal with the potential that someone new might be a new part of their life.
When you are Ready to Move Forward
Dating after divorce is not easy. Although after the papers are signed you might have a little elation in your heart that you can find love again, it might not be as simple as you hope. The key to finding love again is making sure that you are ready for it And leaving the past in the past is the only way to move forward. Also, don’t jump into love too quickly without evaluating if there is a reason your first marriage didn’t work and a way to choose a better mate for your happily ever after.
But if you are honest, open up your heart, heal past wounds, and want, not need, someone in your life, you will find love. And if you use mindfulness to find your next mate, it will be a relationship that will endure the ups and downs and last forever.