Dating after Divorce: Ready?

By Cathy Neville, LPC


Completing the emotional work that signals you are equipped to move on

Once upon a time you were married. Thus avoiding all the tension and uncertainty of the dating scene. Then you divorced. And now? Now, the dating game is calling. And you’re the next contestant. You think.How do you know if you’re really ready?Dating after divorce can be tricky if you’re getting out there for the wrong reasons.Are you trying to prove your worth to your ex? Are you afraid to be alone?Is dating simply a distraction from questions you have about your own future and abilities?Preparing your heart and mind for a new lease on love means devoting yourself to healing and growth. Doing the internal work of grieving, self-examination, and reaching key resolutions will lay the proper foundation for relationships you build going forward.The following tips may be helpful for testing your dating and relationship readiness:Dating Readiness Tip #1: There is no ex factor.

If you have fully surrendered your former relationship and the person you were married to no longer holds your emotional attention, you may be ready to see someone new.

What does getting over your ex really look like?

  • You no longer feel the need to discuss, inquire about, or ruminate over your former partner’s current life and activities.
  • Anger, rage, bitterness, sorrow, and resentment are no longer the primary emotions connected to the mention of your ex spouse.
  • New partners are not merely stand-ins or replacements for your old relationship. You want something fresh and new.
  • You grieved well and truly let go. Unproductive attempts to delay or suppress grief were abandoned. You recognized that grief is a part of loss and allowed yourself to feel your emotions honestly and completely.

Dating Readiness Tip #2: You know who you are.

If you have spent time devoting yourself to understanding who you are apart from your former spouse, you may be ready to date again.

What does knowing yourself really look like?

  • You’ve taken the time to separate your own goals, dreams, and desires from those you shared with your former partner.
  • New experiences and opportunities have become ways to find new strengths and direct your life in ways you may not have considered when you were part of a couple.
  • You faced loneliness. By accepting it and working through it to establish your own distinct life, you learned to appreciate your singleness.
  • You’ve established and engaged a supportive group of loved ones that will help you build the life you want.

Dating Readiness Tip #3:

If you’ve unpacked the baggage of your marriage and accepted responsibility for your part of the load, you may be ready to expand your social and romantic horizons.

What does understanding your past relationship really look like?

  • You identified how your habits and conflict style contributed to your marital issues.
  • You accept a portion of the blame for your marriage’s failure.
  • You are able to review the relationship and consider changes for the future.
  • You embrace your relationship strengths, confident that you have something positive to offer a potential partner.

It is natural to want closeness and connection again.

Just be careful not to rush back in.

It is important to be free of the past, secure in yourself, and empowered by the lessons you’ve learned.

Commitment to yourself and time with a counselor can help prepare you.

Build relationships at a pace that reflects a whole heart and strengthened mind.

With the internal work done, you can confidently and successfully get back in the game.