Dating After Divorce: When is the Right Time?


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When I first got separated, I really hated when people tried to give me advice about dating after divorce.

People who had never gone through a divorce would say to me, “You don’t need to date right now. Just take some time for yourself.” Or, “Why would you want to date? You should be focused on your kids.” Or, “If I were you, I’d go out and have tons of sex.” Or, “Just have fun. Date a bunch of guys. Don’t get serious with anyone.”

I had major issues with all of these things and wanted to say, “Butt out! I don’t want your advice.” The thing is, they were all speaking about what they would do if they were in my situation. How did they know how I was feeling? Divorce is very complicated.

Of course I wanted to focus on my kids. But I wanted to date, too! Just because I was separated, did that mean I was being punished? Was I grounded for a certain period of time before I was allowed to mingle with the opposite sex?

On the other hand, did I want to date a bunch of guys? Did I want to have tons of sex? Hell no. I just wanted companionship. Being separated is a terribly lonely feeling. Also, I wanted to flirt and feel sexy and pretty. A bad marriage makes a person feel terrible about themselves, inside and out.

Every newly separated man or woman has a unique situation when it comes to dating. There are no rules. That’s why there should be no judging by others.

A lot of times when people separate, they have been single in their minds for months, sometimes years. So, they are absolutely ready to date. They might have mourned the relationship in their mind for a long time. So, they’ve already “taken time for themselves.” They’ve already felt alone and lonely.

The opposite scenario: A woman leaves her husband for another man. She blindsides him. He is absolutely lost. He is traumatized. Is he supposed to go out and date after a certain period of time? If it’s been six months, should he be ready? No. In this case, it might take years before he decides he wants to date.

Divorced Girl Smiling received this comment:

My friends have been pushing me to go out…it’s only been a month. How do you know if you’re ready?? I know I’m not ready to date but to be honest I don’t know when I’ll be!! Is there a time that you just know??

My answer to you is this. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that a huge component of life is just about enjoying ourselves. So, why do you have to decide if you are dating or not? Enjoy your life and just take things a day at a time. If you meet a woman you’d like to have coffee with, just do it. If you don’t want to, don’t. BE SELFISH. If you’d rather watch a movie on a Saturday night instead of going out with a woman because “that’s what you think you should be doing” then go for the movie!

Another suggestion is just try one date. You’ll know immediately if being on a date with someone feels okay. And if you’re not, what have you lost? A couple hours? You might be surprised and you might meet someone you really like, even just as a friend.

In closing, when is the right time when it comes to dating after divorce? In my opinion, the timeframe spans from the first day you are separated to never. Each of us gets to have the life WE want. Isn’t that a beautiful thing?

Sometimes I think it’s good to push ourselves and take chances. Other times, I think it’s okay to stay in our comfort zone for a little bit.

Here’s the thing. No one should judge anyone when it comes to dating after divorce, and no newly divorced man or woman should care what anyone thinks about their love life!

However, I can’t conclude this blog post without a few no-no’s when it comes to dating after divorce:

1. Don’t purposely hurt someone you’re dating because you are hurt.
2. Don’t drink excessively before your dates.
3. Don’t have unprotected sex with random people.
4. Don’t blame your ex for dating someone right away. You have the right to do that too.
5. Don’t not date because you are afraid. That’s just silly.
6. Don’t date because you feel like you are under pressure to be in a relationship.
7. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Newly separated people make stupid mistakes when it comes to relationships. It’s okay.

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Author: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorced Girl Smiling offers advice, inspiration and hugs. If you want a Cinderella story, be your own fairy godmother. You're the only one who can pick out that perfect glass slipper!

5 Responses to “Dating After Divorce: When is the Right Time?”

  1. Leslee

    Wondering if you will do a blog and/or comment on having
    Boyfriends and /or girlfriends stay the night when the kids are
    There. thanks

    Reply
  2. Brian

    Nice column. I do have some comments from a single ma who has been on the other side of dating after divorce.
    First, all divorces are unique as are the way people respond to their situation. People who have never been divorced should stay away from giving advice; even if it is with the greatest of intentions and concern. People who have been divorced, such as Jackie are at least speaking from experience but should realize that each situation is unique.
    Second, you should remember the person you flirt with and the people or person you eventually date have feelings also and can be hurtb y your actions. I am in a situation presently where a lady began aggressively flirting with me in which I naturally responded by asking her out. I did as men do and imagined a relationship with this lady who gave every sign of interest. Of course she told me she was not ready to date. It is common for people in this situation to flirt hoping for some response which does help you feel better about yourself and imrove your self-confidence which has been shattered. Great for youa nd you might deserve it, but remember the other person can develop feelings for you due to your actions and your rejection of them hurts them also.
    Third, when you do begin a relationship think about what you want and be honest with your new “friend”. I have been in relationships with recently divorced females who quickly stated the seriousness of their feelings for me, even though I cautioned them to make sure it was me, not the desire to be in a serious relationship. Of course 6 to 9 months into the relationship after i started to get serious they decided they were not ready and ended the relationship. Of course that is their prerogative and it is desirable to be honest and get out out of something you are not ready for. but remember you are hurting someone else. Jackies comment about not purposely hurting someone because you were hurt is accurate but you can also hurt someone unintentionally; it hurts just the same.
    You may deserve to live the life you want but remember there are other people who are trying to live the life they want and you may ingratiate yourself into their life and eventually cause them pain and suffering which takes them time and effort to recover from.
    You owe other people a little foresight and consideration and being selfish can affect others. I wish every divorced or separated person the best of luck with their present and their future but remember while you are vulnerable, most everybody else at a certain age is vulnerable also.

    Reply
  3. Michael C. Craven

    Jackie,
    I agree that, like a divorce, one size does not fit all when re-entering the dating world. Nice column!
    Michael C. Craven
    Chicago Divorce Lawyer

    Reply

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