Dating After Divorce Requires a Different Set of Expectations

After years of partnership with your spouse, the prospect of entering into the dating scene again can be intimidating. By the time you’re divorced, you’ve probably got a pretty clear idea of what you like and dislike in your spouse, and what you’re looking for in a relationship. Most divorced individuals lead pretty settled lifestyles, and know exactly what they want. The thought of getting to know someone new, compromising that settled lifestyle and dealing with someone else all over again is tough. However, you should know that when you’re dating again after a divorce, it requires an entirely new set of expectations.

Set your boundaries.

One of the most important things you can do for yourself when you’re dating again after a divorce is to set your boundaries. What are you looking for? Do you want a companion who enjoys similar activities, or do you want someone who will introduce you to new things? Are you looking for a casual relationship, or an exclusive arrangement? Decide what you’re ready for when you start dating again, and don’t let other people push you outside of your boundaries or manipulate your needs. Your boundaries are your own to set, and asserting yourself can get you off to a great start when dating again.

Be clear about your physical wants and needs.

When you begin dating again, you must be clear about your physical wants and needs, if only to yourself. Depending on how things were with your spouse, you may be ready for physical contact, or you may prefer to take things slow and avoid physical contact for a while. Think about your needs ahead of time. Again, don’t let people push you into contact that makes you uncomfortable, and be prepared for the things you might experience when you become physical with a new partner.

Decide how to deal with dating and kids.

If you’ve got kids, you have a whole extra set of questions to deal with. How do you broach the topic of dating with your kids? Do you let your kids know that you’re dating, or keep it to yourself? When do you introduce a new partner to the kids?

Conventional wisdom says to insulate your kids from the dating experience as much as possible, and don’t introduce kids to a new partner until you’re sure he or she is going to be around for a while. Kids may be feeling vulnerable after a divorce, and if you introduce a new partner too soon and then it doesn’t work out, kids may feel betrayed or feel that they have an unstable lifestyle. You must take these factors into consideration when you’re deciding how to deal with dating and kids.

Take your time.

Take your time when you begin dating again. Start out casually. You definitely don’t want to rush right into a relationship with the first person you date after your marriage. Being alone can make you feel vulnerable, and it can be tempting to launch into a new relationship to avoid those feelings, but take your time. There are plenty of people to get to know, and you owe it to yourself to enjoy the experience and not put undue pressure on yourself during the post-divorce dating process.

Don’t look for a new spouse.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, don’t look for a new spouse. The sole purpose of dating isn’t to replace your husband or wife. It’s to get to know new people, and enjoy spending your time with interesting companions. If a relationship should eventually progress to the point of a new marriage – good for you. But don’t expect it from every relationship, and don’t go out screening your dating partners as if you’re shopping for a new spouse. Enjoy the experience.