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Dating after divorce is a journey, the journey from heartbreak to the point that you feel ready to start over and get back into the driver’s seat in your intimate relationships. EliteSingles spoke to psychotherapist Louisa Niehaus about how to start this new chapter…
Dating after divorce is a vulnerable time, and should be approached with care – for yourself. Going through a divorce can be devastating, but it also creates the opportunity to press reset and construct a fresh beginning on your terms. Louisa takes EliteSingles through the steps you can take to be both confident and careful in navigating your way through dating after divorce.
Before we kick off, take a deep breath and slow down. Dating after divorce is not something to be approached in a rush, dating too soon after divorce can damage yourself and others. Louisa explains, “The last thing you want to do during this vulnerable period is to further re-wound yourself by dating the wrong person for you. Don’t actively seek relationships to fill needs such as loneliness, or validation. Give yourself the gift of finding yourself.” And when you’re ready to move on, here are some useful steps you can take to start dating again on a positive and proactive path.
READ MORE: Only recently divorced? Read our guide for the just divorced here…
One step at a time: start dating after divorce
There are no hard and fast dating rules after divorce. The only one you should always listen to is: do what is right for you, when it feels right for you, and whenever that is, it’s ok! Don’t allow pressure from others to influence how you start this new chapter. It’s yours to write. Louisa takes us through some of the most important things to keep in mind when you start dating after divorce.
- Leap off the right spot: Start on the platform where you’re most comfortable. It can be nerve-wracking to take the leap, and so ease into the dating scene in the spaces you feel most at ease – be that online or offline. Today more and more people choose online dating sites as it allows you to set your preferences and join the right community, but start where it fits you. Don’t put pressure on yourself, but remain open to opportunities.
- Meet earlier, not later: When you’re dating online, aim to meet your potential partner early on rather than engaging in lengthy virtual relationships. Extended texts and virtual correspondence can create unrealistic expectations. We’re far less inhibited texting than when we are face-to-face with strangers. If you meet and discover that your online romance is not what you thought it was, you could be in for heartbreak. So take the online flirtation and test out the real-life romance early on before you both invest too much in the process!
- Be patient: Wait for the right time – don’t rush. If you start dating too soon, you can risk tainting your new relationship with unresolved issues. Take the time to work through your own insecurities and hurt before getting back into dating. Take the time to rediscover yourself and who you are now as a single person. You’ve grown and changed since you were last single –check in with yourself before starting a new relationship.
- Family dynamics: Be cognizant that you may be encountering extended families with ex-partners and children. Recognize that this is a different family dynamic to yours. Do not engage with children and ex-spouses too soon. This is a vulnerable period and transition for them as well. Your relationship with extended family will have a better chance of succeeding if you tread gently into their space. In the same breath, be aware of the dynamics with your own children and ex-partner when you start dating again. It’s advisable to only introduce a new partner to the wider family once the relationship is more settled and secure.
- Be clear: Don’t enter into a relationship for the wrong reasons. The period post-divorce is vulnerable. Divorce can leave one feeling insecure, mistrustful, jaded and lacking in self- worth. It can also be a time of great liberation and an opportunity to explore new found freedom. Ensure that you have given yourself sufficient time to understand who you are and what your expectations are. Be clear how you want to move forward and what you want your new relationship to look like. You will find the right love for you, when you can recognize what that truly means for you.
READ MORE: Move forward with these 21 inspiring divorce quotes
Dating after divorce: kick off with confidence
If you’re wondering how to date after divorce at 40, looking at joining the professional dating scene or understanding love the second time around, confidence is key in all types of interpersonal relationships. Here’re some easy tips to kick off dating after divorce with confidence.
- Polish and shine: Give yourself a groom! A shortcut to feeling good is making the effort to look good! You deserve some extra attention – get a haircut, buy some new clothes and jazz up your look. Part of looking good is also feeling good. Choose to consciously eat healthily and do some exercise. Looking after you is a practical way to give yourself a big confidence boost.
- Wishlist: Write out a wish list for a new partner that you deserve as a single person with a great deal to offer. This doesn’t mean hold unrealistic expectations, but understand what it is that you want and go after that. This step can give you the strength, confidence and guidelines to avoid settling for less than you deserve. Dating after divorce is about focusing onward and upward – not backward!
- Get out there: Building the confidence for dating isn’t only about going on dates. Try new activities, volunteer, take up a new hobby or join a club. Conquering new activities and putting yourself out there into social situations gives you confidence as a single person and can help you feel more comfortable meeting new people in a low stress environment.
- Sit up straight and smile: Even if you’re not feeling confident you can boost your own confidence and appear confident to others simply by having a good posture and smiling. And of course – look at people in the eyes when talking to them! These three easy shortcuts will both help you feel more confident, and appear more confident when meeting someone new.
- Think positive: Have faith in the process. It’s never too late to find love. There’s a whole world out there full of people who you’ve never met before that could be a great match for you! Second love can be stronger and last longer, taking the lessons from your divorce to positively build your new relationship. Focus on what you have learned and be patient. This positive approach will have a pay off!
ABOUT LOUISA NIEHAUS: Louisa Niehaus is a psychotherapist, consulting in South Africa and internationally to a broad base of clients, focusing on relationships, personal growth, trauma, conflict management and self-actualization. You can find out more about her work and courses here.
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