Dating can be hard at the best of times, but when you have recently divorced, or have ended a long-term relationship, it can appear especially daunting. When we get married we instantly become a special unit of two – we are now a couple and our lives become intrinsically linked to each other. To lose that companionship can be as devastating as a bereavement, and with it comes a grieving process.
There may also be a sense of failure and a worry that we are no longer attractive to the opposite sex. We may ask ourselves ‘How will I ever find love again?’ This is a common fear amongst divorcees. Not to mention that dating practices may have changed somewhat since we were last single.
The truth is, finding love after a divorce can be unnerving and feel strange. If there are children from a marriage, you now have to decide not only if your prospective partner is a good match for you, but will he get on with the kids?
So where do you start?
Move on emotionally from the divorce
When a marriage ends, there are usually two types of feelings that are dominant – guilt or resentment.
The person who initiates the divorce may feel guilty for walking away, abandoning the marriage or moving on to better things. There may also be a sense of shame associated with giving up on the marriage.
It is important that this guilt be shed in order to move on. If it is not, the guilty person may start to feel they are not worthy of a fulfilling relationship. They could then start to tolerate bad behaviour from prospective partners.
The person who was rejected in the marriage might feel an acute sense of being left behind, especially if the divorce was unexpected. They may harbour feelings of hurt and abandonment, and could develop a distrust of potential partners.
Those who were left behind need to rebuild their self-esteem and confidence and not let any feelings of bitterness, sarcasm or negativity affect future relationships.
Preparing yourself mentally for dating after a divorce
Once the divorced person has rid themselves of any residual, unhealthy emotions associated with the breakup, they are ready to move on again.
One difference between men and women after a divorce is that men do not look too far into the future regarding potential dates. They will focus on the present, whether they are having a good time at that particular moment. Generally speaking, women tend concentrate more on the future and possible long-term partner material.
The message is to go with the flow. Take things slowly, don’t compare new dates with your old partner, and try not to map put your future after only a few dates. You may feel pressure to settle down immediately and recreate what was lost, but some time nurturing yourself and regaining your self-confidence is time well spent.
How to find love after a divorce
It’s all very well being prepared and letting go of negative emotions, but now that you are ready, where do you actually find love? Well, it won’t come knocking at your door, so you have to go and find it. And there’s no shame in that. You wouldn’t expect to find a great job without looking for it.
There are practical things you can do to find love again.
Engaging a professional matchmaker can be a great move, especially if you are a little hesitant in actively dating. Your matchmaker will introduce you to compatible partners, will screen them and of course you can be sure that each person you meet is serious about finding a long term partner.
There are mental steps that can be undertaken also.
One thing that makes us attractive to the opposite sex is when we appear to be full of life, living a passionate existence, doing the things we love. So, do the things you have always wanted to do. And don’t wait until you have someone to do them with. If you’ve always wanted to visit an art gallery then go. If jazz music is your thing, book a ticket. If you have yearned to travel to a certain part of the world, plan a solo trip.
The message really is to start living your life. There is nothing as unattractive as a person who is waiting to be scooped up and looked after. We naturally gravitate to those who are happy in their own lives. Be one of those people. Don’t wait for someone else to fulfil it for you.
While you are living your life, make sure you are open to any new possibilities. Before your marriage, you may have had certain ideas of what and who you were attracted to. Being more open and flexible will give you far more opportunities for love.
Taking a chance on someone that you wouldn’t have normally could lead to something rather special. So if you normally wouldn’t have dated a blonde or brunette, or a bald or short man, give it a go this time. You may be pleasantly surprised. And you never know, it could lead to something rather wonderful.
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