It is only a matter of time, once your divorce become final, that friends and relatives will encourage you to start dating. The encouragement to start dating is certainly well-intentioned, but do you know if you’re truly ready to begin a new relationship?
One of the biggest signs that says you’re ready is how you feel toward your ex-spouse. Do you find yourself wishing they were back in your life? Does the thought of them immediately bring about feelings of anger or rage? Or, can you think about them in a more neutral manner, acknowledging both the good, and not so good, aspects of your relationship?
If you place yourself solidly with the last description, and you’ve started to feel that meeting someone new could be exciting, then dating may be a fun adventure you’re ready to begin. Here are a few important tips to remember to ease your transition back into the “single and dating” category:
Start Dating When YOU are Ready
Don’t rush into dating simply because your friends, children, family… want you to. Divorce is a serious life change and can represent the loss of long-time dreams. As with any loss, you need time to grieve and think about who you are, where you’ve been, and where you want to go. If you start dating too soon, when you haven’t fully come to grips with your divorce and how you feel, you could end up emotionally hurting not only yourself but also those you date.
Not sure if you’re ready? You may benefit from speaking to an impartial person such as a counsellor or therapist, or from attending a support group. Sometimes the best advice can be gained from someone outside friends and family. If you’re looking for a mental health counselor in Fort Collins, Loveland, or the surrounding areas, take a look at our previous post, Counselors in Northern Colorado. Some local support groups include:
- Divorce Care, a national organization with groups led by individuals who have experienced divorce themselves, holds support groups multiple times a week at churches in Fort Collins, Greeley, Longmont, and Loveland. Find a meeting here.
- Foundations Counseling Divorce Recovery Group, 3 hour group session held in Loveland. Learn more
- InnerLife Adventures Men’s Group, join with other men to explore your life and deepen your relationships. Held in Fort Collins. Learn more
- Fort Collins Divorce Recovery Group, this group meets Mondays from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in Fort Collins. Visit their Meetup page.
There is also a 10-week class, Rebuilding When Your Relationship Ends, offered in Fort Collins by the Colorado Center for Life Changes.
Wondering about Your “Ex”?
If you find yourself frequently wondering what your ex-spouse is doing or whom they’re dating, chances are you’re not ready for a healthy dating relationship. Only you can make the decision to deal with the sadness and anger of divorce and enter a new chapter in your life. You can’t go back and change the past, but you can address how you feel today and who you want to be in the future.
Ready for Something New?
If you were married for a long time, the idea of dating, romance, and relationships could be a bit scary. However, if you’ve already started getting involved with activities to meet new people (joining a gym, a book club, taking a class…) that’s a good sign you might be ready to start dating.
Love Yourself First
After a divorce, it can be difficult to be on your own. But before you jump into dating as a way to ease feelings of loneliness, take time to explore life, determine what you want, and come to grips with the issues that contributed to your divorce. A slower approach to dating and “getting serious” with a new relationship not only helps you to heal, but also helps to make sure your relationship choices (both dating and friends) are good for you.
Old Ways and New Ways of Finding a Date
If you’ve divorced after being married for many years, you may discover that the dating landscape is very different from what you remember! Don’t worry, there are still plenty of “old fashioned” ways to meet people including support groups, social clubs and professional organizations, as well as group and faith-based activities. Additionally, there are plenty of online dating websites to explore that cater to both the greater population (eHarmony, Match.com) as well as specialized groups (OurTime, JDate, VeggieDate…) in addition to online activity groups that frequently feature “singles mixers” like MeetUp.com. Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming even has a region specific matchmaking service, LoveBug, which is based in Fort Collins. If you want a more “low-key” way of meeting someone new, you might try Fort Collins Social Locals or All Things Social Fort Collins.
Keep an Open Mind, but Know What You Want
Giving thought to the reasons behind your divorce can help you to better define what you want and need (as well as aspects you want to avoid) from future relationships. Take the time to make a list of qualities for each category and determine how important each one is. When the time is appropriate, discuss what you’re looking for with the person you are dating. For example, if you already have children, it may be very important that the person you are dating also have or want to have a family.
Let Your Children Know and Take Care
It’s important to let your children know when you start dating, and their age will determine what and how much you tell them. However, introducing a new person into your family dynamic should wait until it’s clear both of you see the potential for a long-term relationship. This allows your children to gradually understand their feelings that will inevitably surface as a new adult enters into their world and yours.
With a little bit of time and careful thought, dating after your divorce can be a fun and satisfying new chapter in your life. Whether your goals are finding a new spouse or just meeting new friends, give yourself permission to go out and create the life you want to have – you’ll feel better because of it!