Dating After Divorce
My work as a licensed marriage and family therapist affords me the opportunity to work with couples and families in all different stages of life, from preparing before the first baby arrives to navigating the murky waters of dating after divorce.
Individuals who divorce often want to know how they should prepare to re-enter the dating scene, usually after at least a year of being married. It’s much different the second around as divorced individuals bring a new set of concerns with them into dating, including an ex-spouse and sometimes children.
Recently, Dr. Kate Campbell, LMFT was featured by the Reader’s Digest as a guest expert on “Don’t Date After Divorce - Without Doing These 11 Things First”. It’s a great outline and resource for individuals wanting a little more guidance around what next steps to take and how to take those steps.
You may have heard the saying, “Get back on the horse” in reference to overcoming difficulties, whether it’s trying to resume a habit after a waylay (starting to workout again after vacation, anyone?) or moving ahead in the face of failure (finding employment after being fired, #toughbreak).
Yet, I caution you to apply this philosophy, seemingly without thought, to all areas of your life, especially your love life.
Think about how much you’ve changed as a person from when you first started dating, to getting married, and now being divorced. Probably a lot! Would the high school version of yourself, college, or even young adult recognize you?
Reflecting on our past is deep and deliberate work; we may have made choices in our past for which we feel a sense regret, shame, and guilt (for anyone whose marriage ended because of infidelity, this may resonate with you).
Before beginning any new journey in life, reflection, deliberate planning, and forethought are essential to our growth as individuals. Sometimes, our painful past can lead up to a more fulfilling future, where we know who we are, what we want, and what we’re worth.
Spending time alone before getting back out into the dating scene is a crucial first step to ensuring the success of your next relationship. The same goes for setting clear and strong boundaries with your new partner, your children, and your ex-spouse.
Boundaries with your new partner and children will involve knowing your children and how they react to big changes in their lives. Take it slow… there’s no need to rush things. It’s important to have age appropriate conversations with them, while still being honest about your relationship. Once you’ve been dating someone for significant time and you’re confident that introducing them will bring a sense of consistency to your family, you can consider introducing them to your kids.
No matter when you choose to dive back into the dating pool, you’ll want to do so safely and smartly. If you’re contemplating dating after divorce and looking for some guidance, Dr. Kate is just a phone call 954.391.5305 ext. 1 or click away from helping you. Dr. Kate provides pre-marital counseling, marriage therapy, and couples counseling in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She also offers divorce counseling for those recovering from a divorce.