How do you know you’re ready to date after a divorce…

By: Amy Estes |

It can be incredibly difficult to get back into the dating scene when you’ve been divorced. Divorce changes you, and it can be difficult to recover. But it’s perfectly natural to find yourself wanting companionship after you’ve split from your partner.

The first question that may come to mind is, “Am I ready?” It’s normal to feel gun-shy and nervous, but if you’re not really ready, you can sabotage your efforts before you even have a first kiss.

Here’s how to know if you’re really ready to date after a divorce.

1. You’ve taken time to mourn the end of your marriage. The end of a marriage is difficult, particularly if it’s been a long relationship. It’s normal to grieve it the way one might grieve a death. When you end a marriage, not only to you end a past relationship full of memories, but you also mourn a future that undoubtedly included plans and dreams. Make sure that you have given yourself a chance to be sad, angry and disappointed. There is no proper timetable; however, it’s best to wait until you feel like all of the complex feelings about your former relationship have died down.

2. Your friends and family are open and supportive. This is especially true if you had children with your partner. Make sure that the people who love and know you best are willing to support you in this endeavor by listening, meeting potential partners and supporting you as this new journey unfolds.

3. You’ve spent some time alone. If you’ve been married a long time, it’s normal to take on a lot of the hobbies and interests of your former partner. When you split, it’s a perfect opportunity to get to know yourself — the single version. Try things that you’ve always wanted to try, take a few classes here and there, and get to know yourself as a single person. You might rediscover a passion you’d forgotten about. Being alone can be difficult at first, but be sure to take time with the most important person in your life — you!

4. You’re ready to set clear boundaries. When you’ve been partnered or married for a long time, you’re used to having a built in partner to do things with, and you’re also used to an intimacy and friendship that takes a long time to build. When you first start seeing someone, it’s normal to want to rush into something close and serious right away. But don’t! Resist the temptation! Remember: your former relationship took years to cultivate. Take your time getting to know your dates, and don’t let them in too quickly! Savor the early stages of getting to know one another.

5. You have a healthy self-esteem. Rejection is a downside to dating, and it’s likely you’ll experience it on your road to new love. Remember that rejection is normal, and while you may not be the right person for everyone it is likely you will find a new person to spend a lot of time with! Don’t let rejection get you down! Make sure you’re stable enough to date without letting every “missed connection” make you feel depressed.

6. You deal with emotions healthfully. Anniversaries, birthdays, holidays and family events may bring up feelings of sadness or anger about the end of your last relationship. That’s perfectly normal, but make sure you have a way to deal with them that is healthy. No drinking alone, no drug use, no depressive behaviors. It’s important that you find an outlet that’s healthy to express those feelings. Nothing kills a new relationship faster than realizing that the person you’re seeing takes everything out on you, or has no way to deal with their difficult feelings positively.

7. You know what you’re looking for in a relationship. Be very clear with yourself about what it is, exactly, that you want. Are you looking to get remarried, or are you looking for someone to go to ball games with? Are you looking for love, or just a close friend? Have this conversation with yourself early and often so that when it comes time to discuss it with a potential partner, you know exactly what it is you want.

8. You’ve worked on yourself.  As painful as it can be to admit, divorce takes two parties. Have you identified what your role was in the split? And if so, have you figured out ways to fix it so you don’t make the same mistakes this time around? Therapy, or at least a few books that have been thoughtfully read and considered can make all the difference. Make sure you’re aware of how you can do better in the future.

9. You’re open to love! The above items are a bit heavy, but the bottom line is: are you excited? Are you ready and open to the possibility of the joy of a relationship again? If so, take a few steps towards meeting someone.