10 Tips for dating after divorce or separation
If you've recently separated from your partner, Valentine’s Day can be particularly unhelpful as the world is bombarded with romantic comedies, flowers and couples celebrating.
Valentine’s Day can feel overwhelming, bringing into sharp contrast feelings of loss. If this is you, we’ve already written a blog to help you reframe how you feel about the day with our tips and advice which you can read here.
However, if you feel ready to move on, knowing where to start with the dating journey can feel a little intimidating. In this blog, we’ll explore the ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ of dating after divorce or separation.
Dating after divorce if you don’t have children:
Dating after divorce can be a daunting experience, especially if it has been a long time since you were last in the dating scene. However, it can also be an exciting opportunity to meet new people and start a new chapter in your life. Here are some tips for dating after divorce:
Tip 1: Take your time
There is no rush to start dating again. Take the time you need to heal from your divorce and get to a place where you feel confident and ready to date.
Tip 2: You won’t know if you don’t try
If you don’t dip your toes in the water and try, you won’t know what you’re missing. Any anxieties or insecurities you feel won’t go away unless you're willing to meet new people. Often, they’re unfounded, and when you put yourself out there, you’ll realise that everyone has things they’re nervous about when it comes to dating.
Tip 3: Safety first
This might seem obvious, but if you’re meeting someone for the first time, and you’ve met them through an app or another way, remember to tell a friend or loved one where you are and your plans for the evening. It might be nerve-wracking to tell a friend that you're going on a date, especially if they knew your ex, but your personal safety is the most important thing. If you feel unsafe at any point, leave. Tell your friend when you’re home and this can also be a good excuse if you want a chance to debrief after the date.
Tip 4: Treat the date like you’re meeting a friend
The great thing about dating is whether or not the date turns into a new relationship, it's a wonderful chance to meet new interesting people and share exciting experiences. If you feel nervous about the prospect of intimate interactions, treating the date like meeting a friend will reduce this.
Tip 5: Don't compare the people you date with your ex
It can be easy to compare everyone you date after your divorce with your ex, and whilst it’s useful to learn from your previous relationship, being overly critical can lead to no one quite fitting the bill. After all, everyone is unique, so trying to shoe-horn a new person into your ex's shoes will likely lead to disappointment. In order to open up the possibility of new relationships, you have to be willing to be flexible.
Dating after divorce if you have children:
If you have children, dating after divorce can feel impossible. You not only have to navigate your own feelings and needs, but also those of your children. There are also practical things to consider, like organising a babysitter or fitting a date into your shared-care arrangement if you’re co-parenting.
Here are some of our tips for dating after divorce with children:
Tip 1: Consider your children's feelings
Your children may have mixed emotions about you dating again, so be sensitive to their feelings and make an age-appropriate decision about whether they should be told and at what stage. For example, if you have a toddler and a shared-care schedule, being able to date again post-separation discreetly, is more possible than if you have an older teenager who has more flexibility.
Tip 2: Your child is not your friend
Being open and honest with your children is important, but there should be a clear difference between how you talk to them about moving on after separation versus one of your friends. If you feel it’s appropriate to talk to your children about the fact you’re dating, don’t overshare, only tell them what you feel they need to know and give them an opportunity to digest the information and ask any questions they may have.
Tip 3: Introduce your new partner slowly
When you do start dating someone, it's important to introduce them to your children slowly and carefully. Give your children time to get to know your new partner and make sure they are comfortable with the situation. We’ve written a blog on this topic which you can read here.
Tip 4: Set boundaries
Make sure to set clear boundaries for your children, and your new partner, such as when and how much time they will be spending time with each other. This will help ensure that your children feel comfortable and secure.
If your children have met your new partner, it’s likely that your ex will know that you’ve started a new relationship. It might be worth telling them directly so they don’t hear it from someone else. We’ve written our tips on telling your ex about your new partner here.
Tip 5: Use your parenting arrangement to your advantage
If you know your children are with their other parent for the weekend, this is a great opportunity to go on a date. Get creative, do something you can’t normally do when they’re staying with you. A perk of being separated with children is often you will have a window of time that’s yours.
Treat dating post-divorce as a form of self-care where you’re able to prioritise yourself. It’s true that you’re a parent first, but if you know your children are safe at your ex’s home, you have an opportunity to incorporate some fun into your daily routine by doing an exciting and different experience on a date with someone new.
Remember, dating after divorce with children is a process, and it may take some time to find the right balance. Seek support by talking to friends, family, or a therapist to help you process your feelings during this time.