Don’t wait too long date after a divorce
After a divorce, the most common advice is to stay out of relationships for a while. On the surface, it makes sense, I mean… you just ended a marriage. That is heavy duty stuff. Most days your emotional load needs a bulldozer to carry it across the room. Getting into casual dating after divorce seems stupid, right?
Well, in my Virtual Bestie opinion, don’t wait too long to start dating after divorce.
There are some helpful experiences waiting for you in your next post-divorce romance. When you start to date as midlife adults you can enjoy separate homes, disposable income for activities, and most likely, the kids have left the nest. Psychologically you should be able to relax, mentally engage your date and determine if this person is someone you would enjoy spending more time with, right?
Except…. wait for it…..
B.Y.O.T. (Bring Your Own Triggers)
One of the unique benefits of being in a post-divorce relationship is the possibility that you will be triggered. Triggered is the word often used for a negative emotional response. Anger, sadness, fear or anxiety are all feelings that can erupt inside of you due to previous partners behavior. Triggering occurs when the circumstances and behavior line up to make you feel overwhelmed, resulting in inner negative responses.
As a result of being triggered, you might react with anger, sadness, or confusion. Although it sucks, it is helpful to have these emotional responses to identify a need for growth and change. Believe it not, one of the best places to work on self-growth is when you are in a relationship. Living alone is a self-pleasing lifestyle, generally, you do what pleases you. It is more difficult to be triggered when you are running the show based on your wants and needs.
Tunnel Of Love Ahead
Remember, most of us choose our intimate partners as a replacement for our childhood unfinished business. I know, that sounds immature and like something only a real moron would do. I mean, who wants to be like their mother? Who wants to have the same dynamics that your parents did in their marriage? Ummm… you do. And I did.
The reality is, we are wired to look for bias. Emotional, mental, and social bias. So, we have this sneaky radar that is searching for a way to resolve unfinished childhood business. Most of us do not choose someone identical to one of our parents. Nope, that too obvious, we like to shift it a bit to keep open the possibility of true emotional healing with our partner.
Self-Knowledge Is Critical When Dating After Divorce
When we mix it up in our partner choice, it is like we give our unfinished business a booster shot. Instead of completely duplicating our unresolved parent issues, we sideswipe it, giving us a hope of resolution. For example, your dad is addicted to alcohol. You make the conscious choice to avoid a man who drinks. Great choice, yay you!
Except you choose to marry a version of your mom, a controlling perfectionist. So now, you have a male spouse that is like your mother, just enough of a twist that you think you have avoided the marrying your dad trap. Didn’t see that one coming, did you?
I feel you sister.
After Divorce Dating Can Open A Door To Self-Growth
Don’t freak out, this is all based in the science of something called Attachment Theory. Check out this post for a small discussion on attachment and happiness. We are generally unaware of our attachment behaviors. Due to their hidden, yet powerful influences, we find ourselves in a recreation of our early childhood years. The cast of characters might look different, but we are often re-living the same story.
So, how does all this emotional woo-woo affect your decision to date after divorce? Excellent question sis’, and I have the answer!
Most therapists will tell you to do your inner self work before getting into a new relationship. And that is generally worthwhile advice. Often, we are our most vulnerable right after a divorce. No one wants to be easy pickings for Rico Suave and his skanky sex moves.
Take Some Time To Identify What Went Wrong
Taking some time to autopsy your last relationship is beneficial. It might safeguard you against finding a new version of your old partner. Reading books and considering talk therapy are options. Or, working with a women’s relationship coach (like me!) is another way to examine your weak spots. Most importantly, you need to make an effort to protect yourself from repeating history.
But let’s be honest, when we are single, most of us are looking for a fulfilling relationship. As a general biological truth, people were made to live in community and relationship. The best way to honor our innate longing for intimacy is to choose a healthy partner. We can work hard to identify our wounded places and begin pursing transformation through self-growth.
So, assuming that you will be considering dating at some point, here is a quick and dirty list of what to expect when you start dating after a divorce.
Fakers Need Not Apply
No more Posers- thank you Google! When we start considering a new relationship, we do want to enter it with an attitude of trust. But- we trust AND we verify ya’ll! Social media is our BFF, giving us the down and dirty details, our new love interest might leave out. Misleading outdated pictures aside, there is plenty of information to be discovered on the internet.
Gone are the days when we must string together little pieces of lies and nonsense to determine that he is not the CEO of a fast-growing dog treat company that gives some of its profits to old dogs that need hip replacement operations. Mmm- nice try.
Hey Baby, Let’s Take This Slow and Easy
You can slow the pace for meetups and dates, no hurry to lock down a man. Listen, by the time you hit midlife, if you are still rushing to lock down a man, you need to do some inner child work. A woman in her midlife years should be able to live alone, find purposeful, enjoyable work, and develop her own interests apart from a man.
It’s okay if you are working on a self-growth list, but do not expect another person to completely fulfill you. Part of the reason you ended up divorced is a result of unmet romantic expectations, and listen sis, we all have them! Most women have an inner Cinderella that will only be satisfied by finding Prince Charming. Thankfully, at midlife we know better, and we can do better.
Do Some Detective Work When Dating After Divorce
Assuming you are in a posture of self-observation, dating can be particularly useful for identifying and healing triggers. Let’s say your new romantic interest arrives late for your coffee Zoom date. You observe yourself reflexing into a inner hot rage of emotions. Activate your posture of self-observation; why are you feeling furious?
Maybe you are angry because your former partner consistently disrespected your time by arriving late to any scheduled events. That makes sense, but it is possible there are other triggers behind these feelings. When you were a child, did your family criticize people who arrived late to events? Maybe they were called “selfish” or “rude” and your family spent time and energy disapproving those types of people.
If you are willing to sit with your feelings, there is a ton of helpful information coded into your emotions. Take time and be curious about your reactions and the stories that surge up when you are triggered.
Dating After Divorce AKA Try Before You Buy
Just like our early family history influenced our younger choices for partners, the history of a former marriage impacts your romantic beliefs. Casual dating after divorce can help you identify what you want and don’t want in a potential partner.
Every relationship has some non-negotiables: Safety (physical, emotional, sexual), intellectual engagement that satisfies both individuals and I would add, financial fidelity. Exploring potential partners after divorce should be a self-affirming experience, especially if you have invested energy understanding your unique core needs as a woman.
Be Casual, But Protect Your Energy When Dating After Divorce
The healthy thing about dating after divorce is that you are no longer a young, naïve child who is looking for familiar behavior in your partner. Consider it a second chance to choose a partner who fulfills, excites, and challenges the woman that you have become in midlife. Most of all, give yourself permission to have casual fun, guarding your time and energy as you heal from divorce.
Helping you design a fulfilling life matters to me. I take your trust and time seriously.