By Katie Davis
Figuring out when, and often how, to date after divorce can be difficult. Sometimes newly divorced men are still trying to recover from the previous relationship, and single dads especially can be nervous about bringing another person into the picture.
If you’ve been through a divorce, the divorce agreement is finalized and you feel finished with your experiences with that previous person, then it may be time to start dating again. Read through these tips for getting back into the dating game.
1) Don’t let fears rule – Those who are now finished with divorce can too often listen to fears that keep them from dating and seeking partnership again. As Jackie Pilossoph from DivorcedGirlSmiling.com writes in her Huffington Post article, “3 Obstacles to Dating After Divorce and Why You Should Ignore Them,” many single dads worry about upsetting their children or spending money when finances are already tight. Pilossoph encourages dads to take the next step toward dating and, if money is truly tight, to think of creative dating ideas that are free or inexpensive. She points out that many individuals are just fearful of opening themselves up again in general.
“At some point, it’s like getting up the guts to just get on the roller coaster when you were a kid. You just have to do it. You’ll be glad you did!” says Pilossoph. In other words, don’t be your own worst enemy when it comes to getting out there and meeting new people.
2) If the ex is on your mind, take some time – It is important to note that, if you are still thinking about your ex a lot and perhaps even entertaining thoughts of getting back together, you probably still need some time for healing.
“The relationships they start do not often work out in the long run,” he says. “I advise my patients to wait at least two years. I’ve never had a man take me up on that advice, but I do try to slow them down.”
While you may not want to wait two years, waiting for a period of time and making sure you are not trying to prove something to your ex spouse is wise. The new relationship should be for you, not for your ex.
3) Know what you want & know what you don’t – If your previous relationship or marriage can be useful for anything, it’s certainly useful to know what you might not want out of a relationship in the future.
Pilossoph writes in her article “Dating After Divorce: 5 People You Don’t Want to Date” about five different types of people who recently divorced men might want to avoid. Those who are not over their ex spouses and either talk badly (in her words, “the trasher”) or positively (“the sticker”) about them present a warning sign for others who might be interested.
She describes the “trasher” as someone who is “clearly not over the anger and bitterness of the separation and needs either time or therapy or both.” The “sticker” is someone who “is sticking to their ex like glue. He talks about what a great mother she is. She talks about what a great friend he’s been. They spend a lot of time together ‘for the kids.'”
Pilossoph also warns readers to avoid those using heavy amounts of alcohol or other substances – this is another sign that they are not over the stress or emotions of the divorce and will obviously come back to damage any new relationships.
Andre Cross makes a good point in an article for AskMen though – you don’t have to avoid everyone who has even one similar quality as your ex. There’s a reason you were attracted to that person in the first place.
“Your first instinct may be to stay away from anyone that reminds you of your ex-wife, but you don’t need to stress over this. Moving on with your life does not mean forgetting about that part of your life. After all, you did have some good times together; don’t forget them,” he says.
So, seek out the good, and actively work to avoid what your gut tells you may be harmful in the long run.
4) Take care of you – Let’s face it. If you are not taking care of yourself and focusing on your needs, you ultimately won’t be able to offer or give anything to anyone else.
Author, counselor and Ph.D. Edward M. Tauber explains in an article for WebMD that those wanting to date after a divorce need to accept themselves as an individual before any moving forward can happen. He points out the importance of surrounding one’s self with friends and, perhaps, single friends who are in similar life situations.
“You can’t heal unless you’re on your own,” Tauber says. “You need to find single friends to have a social life with.”
Cross urges men to also take pride in themselves and, without going overboard cost- or vanity-wise, put a little effort into their health, looks and well-being. Whether you join a gym, purchase some new clothing or start watching what you eat more, you’ll help both your physical as well as mental health.
“If you’re making some changes on the inside with your attitude and outlook on life, you might as well do the same with your appearance,” Cross says.
So the bottom line is that, when you start taking care of yourself again, this shows itself to others. Soon enough, you’ll be able to start connecting with other potential partners and feel comfortable re-entering the dating world.