Dating After Divorce Is Scary. Are You Ready To Love Again?

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Dating Too Soon After Divorce? Probably Not!

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?

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When Should I Start Dating After Divorce?

Honestly, there is no absolute method to know when to it’s time to starting dating after a divorce. Most of us have heard that we need to “learn to be alone” before we start to date again. And for some folks, that might be important, especially if you left an abusive relationship. After ending a toxic marriage, you will need time to regulate your life and begin to understand why you were attracted to that type of partner.

But for most of us, I would suggest that you don’t wait too long to start dating after divorce. Based on research and human behavior, here are the best reasons to consider starting to date after your marriage has ended.

How To Start Dating After A Divorce

If You Feel Ready, Then Trust Yourself To Start Dating Again

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…..

Starting To Date After A Divorce Will Help You Grow Personally

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 to a circumstance and/or behavior that originates with another person or situation.

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 emotionally overwhelmed, resulting in your emotional negative response.

Starting To Date After Divorce Can Be Triggering, But Helpful For Us To Grow

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 much more difficult to be triggered (and as a result experience self growth) when you are living based on your wants and needs.

What To Look For When Dating After A Divorce

Be Aware That You Might Be Attracted To The Wrong Person

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, human brains are wired to look for bias. Emotional, mental, and social bias. We have this sneaky emotional radar that is searching for a way to resolve unfinished childhood business. Most of us do not intentionally choose someone identical to one of our parents, it just happens. Unless we are aware of our brain bias in relationships, we will often repeat the same romantic partner mistakes.

Dating after a divorce can be scary, but it is a great way to experience personal growth.

Pay Attention To Your Romantic History When Dating After Divorce

It is normal to try to avoid dating someone just like your former partner or spouse. And sometimes we are successful, we choose a completely new personality that comes with new quirks and challenges.

It is important to be aware that while we seem to be avoiding someone like our former partner, we might just be mixing things up instead. Instead of completely duplicating our unresolved parent issues, we sideswipe it, giving us a hope of resolution.

Brain Bias Is A Result Of Childhood Interactions With Our Closest Caregivers

For example, your dad is addicted to alcohol. You make the conscious choice to avoid dating a man who drinks. Great choice, yay you! You feel smart that you avoided a potentially difficult and heartbreaking marriage. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

Except unknowingly, you choose to date a version of your mom, a controlling perfectionist. So now, you have a male partner 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?

It feels right, but marrying a version of one of your parents can keep you stuck and frustrated. You might end up in a seemingly endless loop of unresolved conflict and emotional stasis.

After Divorce, Dating Can Open A Door To Self-Growth

Be assured, I am not making this up! Romantic attraction often originates in the psychological science of something called Attachment Theory. 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 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 an easy target for the dating app predators.

Take Some Time To Identify What Went Wrong

Taking some time to autopsy your last relationship is crucial. 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 our next 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.

Things To Keep In Mind When Dating After Divorce

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.

Do A Quick Google Check Before You Get Serious

No more mysteries- 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 like our personal private investigator, giving us the down and dirty details our new love interest might leave out. Misleading, twenty pounds lighter outdated pictures aside, there is plenty of information to be discovered on the internet.

There is nothing wrong with spending some time researching your potential new romantic partner. If you have been working on understanding your patterns and behaviors, it is important that your potential person has been doing their own work in this area.

Have you ever heard of a “weeder class?” A weeder class is a required class that all college students must take to advance to a higher level of learning. If you are committed to self-growth, there is nothing wrong with coming up with some “weeder questions.”

Here are my top 5 “weeder” questions:

  • What do you think of therapy or counseling?
  • Do you think that we are all responsible for our own happiness?
  • What nice things can you say about your ex-partner?
  • Have you done any work around identifying your emotions and negative behavior cycles?
  • Self-growth and identifying my unhelpful behavior patterns are important to me, how do you feel about those topics?

Self Awareness Is Sexy When Dating After Divorce

It’s okay to ask if they have been to therapy. Ask them if they are able to receive respectful criticism when in a relationship. If someone spends a significant amount of time bashing an ex-partner, be careful!

Shifting blame and responsibility on a former partner is a good indicator that your new boyfriend/girlfriend has a victim mindset. Folks with a victim mindset don’t make good partners, they are always willing to blame the other person ( or circumstances, traffic, boss) for a negative situation.

Hey Baby, Let’s Take This Slow and Easy

Try some casual dating after your divorce, it can be a positive experience.

You can slow the pace for meetups and dates, no hurry to lock down a new romantic partner! 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 single person in their midlife years should be able to live alone, find purposeful, enjoyable work, and develop her own interests apart from a partner.

It’s really important to be working on a personal self-growth list, but do not expect another person to completely fulfill you! It’s just not reasonable for us to put the heavy weight of our happiness and self fulfillment on another person.

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 been raised to believe they 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 date. You observe yourself reflexing into a inner hot rage of emotions.

Activate your skill of self-observation; why are you feeling furious? What messages are happening inside of you? Get curious, slow down and observe yourself.

Every Emotion Has A Memory Attached To It

Maybe you are angry because your former partner consistently disrespected your time by arriving late to 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.

Your coffee date might have a perfectly good reason for being late. Or he might be a person who struggles with being on time. Either way, knowing why you are experiencing your feelings will be helpful as you work toward becoming a better version of you.

Developing Our Inner Awareness Is Essential For Dating After Divorce

The world (yes, the world!) benefits when we acknowledge our own negative behaviors. Working toward higher levels of self awareness will always increase our “other awareness.”

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. Awareness about our responses will serve us on many levels,

Know Your Core Values When You Start Dating Again

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.


The best thing about dating after divorce is that you are no longer a young, naïve young adult who is looking to repeat your childhood dynamics 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.

Remember, it is okay to ask serious questions about a potential partners history and personal growth beliefs. By the time we reach midlife, we should be able to identify and share our own weaknesses with a potential new romantic partner. We should be personally committed to challenge our own bullshit behavior and increase our emotional responsibility.

As grown adults, it is up to us to take charge of identifying our cycles of dysfunction, forgiving those who contributed to it and choosing more productive patterns for our best outcome.


Most of all, give yourself permission to have casual fun, guarding your time and energy as you heal from divorce.

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Melane Ann is a writer, blogger, and life coach. In 2020, she turned her experience in midlife divorce and creating a new life for herself into midlifeismagical. With a master's in Marriage and Family Therapy, Melane focuses on helping women over 50 navigate their relationships and commit to healthy aging. She and her new husband share 7 children between them. Melane jokes that she has a black belt in blended families! In addition to her writing, Melane works virtually with her coaching clients from her home office.

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