After the smoke has cleared and the divorce is final, you may find yourself alone, longing for companionship and wondering, “How do I start dating again after a divorce?” It’s not as simple as jumping back on the horse and riding away into love paradise. In fact, you’ll likely need some dating after divorce to help you decide if it’s the right time – and how to go about it.
Jessica Woll, a divorce attorney at Woll & Woll Family Law Specialists in Birmingham and mom of 9-year-old daughter, describes divorce as “death in a marriage” and says it’s important to “proceed with caution.” “Most of my clients are dating very quickly and it’s very common because we crave companionship,” Woll says.
But for those of you who have wondered how to start dating again after a divorce, remember that dating is not easy to approach. If you’re looking for some dating-after-divorce advice, take a peek at our Q&A with Woll for some insight.
I just got divorced. What do I need to do to help myself recover before I begin dating again?
Take care of you. Your emotional health has to come first. Take good care of yourself by eating right, exercising and seeing a good therapist. Being alone and being in your own company is one of the best things you can do. You don’t have to do anything quickly. Take your time.
How long should I wait to date and why?
I think it depends on the person and the relationship they were getting out of. All of the people getting divorced come to me after years of a loveless marriage. You just have to be careful of what you are doing as a single adult.
How do I know that I am ready to date?
When you start feeling good about yourself. You have a sense of wonderment about other people. You feel excited and interested in meeting and learning new people and just having fun. You’ve got to get to the other side of your grief. You feel some light-heartedness. You’ll know when it’s right. It’s something you feel inside.
What are some dos and don’ts of dating after a divorce?
Do meet in a public, safe place. Do keep it light until it’s something more. If kids are involved, don’t let the new partner be a replacement to an involved parent, and don’t allow disrespect of their role.
Speaking of kids, when is it best to introduce my kids to the person I am dating?
It’s age dependent. I would definitely not introduce a person early on to younger children, and I don’t think a kid should be introduced to someone you are casually dating. You don’t want your kids to feel left out. They are hurt enough that you are not with the other parent. I would really want to feel secure in the relationship and know that it’s serious. You don’t want a revolving door of guys (or girls) around your kids.
How do I identify between a real relationship and a rebound relationship?
You have to give it time. That’s why I said (to) proceed with caution after divorce. You’ve gotten wiser after a divorce, which will help you identify in the next relationship whether it’s just for fun or have the potential to turn into a real relationship. Everyone has his or her own checklist of what’s ok and what’s not. Identify those signs and make sure you know what’s not OK for you.
If I tell my child and the reaction is negative, how do I handle this?
I hear them, I acknowledge and I reinforce. Kids want be heard. Let them explain to you why they feel that way. I remain child-centric. We as parents want to fix things, but sometimes it’s good to let them feel that pain. I provide love and explain myself, too. Depending on the age, kids foster a hope that their parents will get back together after divorce. Be there to love them and explain that you’re an adult and you have needs, too.
How long should I wait to mention it to my child again after a negative response?
It depends on the child and what they need. It’s nice to let them come back to you again. I don’t think there’s a magic number for that. Go with your child’s rhythm. Show your love, be supportive, and sometimes just give a big hug. Kids feel that they’ve lost control so they try to get control in their little lives, but they should know that you love them and that you are there with open arms at all times.
This post was originally published in 2015 and has been updated for 2016.