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Dating After Divorce: How To Start

Datingafterdivorce

First Posted: 02/09/11 04:34 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:30 PM ET

Story courtesy of The Survivor's Club

Divorce changes lives and can be painful, as Sean Penn has said. Although men and women and in many cases the children of the marriage are challenged, some people need longer to recover or grieve the loss of their spouse than others do. Remember your situation is unique and can't be compared to another person's whether that person is a friend or ex-partner. Comparisons will usually increase painful feelings and even lower your self-esteem.

After the court case, the custody of your children and other issues have been worked out, the general rule of thumb is to allow yourself six months to a year to get back on your feet and get reacquainted with the single life. Use this valuable time to reconnect with your friends, family and most importantly yourself. Self-confidence and self-assurance are important factors in dating and meeting new people.

Keep in mind that a recently divorced single must not be rushed to go out dating because no set amount of time assures that someone feels ready to move on. Some people take longer than others and if you feel shaky and fragile, then take some more time for yourself.

When you do start to see the light at the end of the tunnel and feel ready to go out and start dating again, you may have some questions: Where can I meet people who I actually will be interested in? How do I let my children know about my dating? When should I introduce a new partner to my kids?

The Survivors Club with the exclusive advice of psychologist Amy Klein, a psychotherapist specializing in family care for over 15 years, has those answers for you.

Meeting Great New People

Although the allure of the bar or night club may seem like a great place to meet your next partner or date, in fact the relationship will likely be short lived and lack common interests.

Instead, think of an activity that you really like to do or something that you have wanted to do for a long time. This could include any type of class or activity at the gym, school or any other venue with like-minded adults.

"Some people even opt for something super exciting like parachuting, skydiving, bungee jumping," Klein says to TSC, "whatever it is, it should be something satisfying to that person."

You can also do an exciting outdoor activity like running or biking. Other ideas include taking a cooking class, a film class, or a gardening class, and with these you are one step ahead of the game in finding someone with common interests. Not only will these be great ways to meet people through an activity, they will also be personally satisfying to you.

Great places to find groups of people interested in the same activities as you are craigslist.org which offers community groups across the world, and Meetup.com where you can find interest groups that actually get together on a regular basis. These groups range from language to hiking to food to reading.

"Any activity like this has multidimensional satisfaction as it is 'good for you', 'exhilarating', and reflects certain traits that might be attractive to another person and that you might find attractive as well," Klein says.

When you are out meeting people, you are just trying to have fun. By participating in activities that you always wanted to do or really enjoy, you won't feel like you failed if you don't meet someone that day.

Klein suggests for women to be smart, trust their intuition, and don't rush into anything when they start dating again after divorce. For men, she suggests they should not be too aggressive, and take their time trusting that they will find another satisfying partner.

If you are going out on a blind date, meet your date somewhere neutral like a restaurant or coffee shop instead of at one of the date's apartment or house because there will be less pressure and expectation.

Other Places to Meet Great Singles
* Charity events - Intrinsically satisfying and reflect good traits about the others attending
* Bike trip vacations
* Hiking in California
* Wine tasting events

Regarding Your Children While Dating

This is a sensitive issue depending largely on the ages of your kids and your personal discretion. Trust your instincts.

For little children, you can tell them that you are meeting a friend for dinner or an activity.

"You can refer to him/her by name but, call them a friend, not a boyfriend," Klein suggests. This will allow your young children to naturally adapt to the fact that you are meeting new people.

For older children, "a divorced parent may choose to tell their kids that they are starting to date again," Klein says. "A lot depends on the divorce, how difficult it was for the kids, and who 'left' who.

"Parents should use discretion, this is personal and really only needs to be shared if the kids are older and can handle it."

Introducing your children to your dates can be confusing and upsetting.

"This is completely unnecessary and inappropriate until there exists a real relationship between two people," Klein says. Your children may feel badly for the other parent or be concerned about the parent going out with a 'stranger.'

If a dating partner insists on meeting your children, this is a red flag, Klein says. She says that introducing your kids to a date is completely your decision because your kids' happiness and stability is a priority over your date's desire to meet them.

"When the time is right, it is on your terms," Klein emphasises.

When Your Children Act Out or Reject a New Partner

There are many things a parent may want to ask themselves if a child outright rejects a new partner. One being, was it too soon? Another, did I properly prepare my child to meet this new person?

Blaming your child for their behavior will likely heighten their uncomfortableness and perhaps escalate the problem.

If you felt comfortable with how you handled introducing your child to the new partner, the next step will be to talk to your child in private.

"Sit down with your child and talk to them about what's upsetting them so much about this person or the fact that Mom/Dad is dating again," Klein syas.

This interaction with your child or children depends on their ages and the situation. Klein suggests a variation of the following can be a good way to talk to your children about your dating a new partner.

"It is natural for me to want to meet another person to spend time with. I loved your mom/dad very much at one time and things just didn't work out for us. I love you very much and nobody will ever take that love away from me. Dating is about meeting someone who is fun for me to share my interests with. I know it's hard to understand, but you will see when you're older. Until then, I'd like you to trust me and to be pleasant and respectful to ........."

Tweak this conversation depending on how upset your child is and the particular situation.

Parents who are re-entering the dating world will naturally feel some anxiety and nervousness, but if they feel ready, "take their time, try to have fun, and be open and honest with their kids when the time is right," Klein says.

Related Survivors Club Stories

20 Dos and Don'ts of Surviving Divorce

Coping with Divorce

Must-Read Novels and Memoirs for Coping with Divorce

This article was created by TheSurvivorsClub.org, a content partner of The
Huffington Post.

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