Proceed With Caution: Dating After Divorce

09/22/2011 07:57 pm 19:57:42 | Updated Nov 22, 2011

Venturing into the dating game after divorce can be exciting and treacherous all at the same time. Many jump back in without really taking the time to ensure that they do not repeat the same mistakes and end up attracting Mr. or Ms. wrong all over again. Knowing when you are ready does require introspection, time and hard work but there are a few tips that can at least set you on the right path.

Feeling your pain
We are conditioned to run from pain -- but in fact learning to embrace it can quicken the healing process. Splitting is very painful and so the natural thing to do is try and run from it. We may opt to find comfort in solace, the bottle, antidepressants, pain killers, dating or anything that can give us short term gratification and distract us from feeling our emotions. Unfortunately this serves to only prolong the healing process or, worse, take us down the road of self-destruction. There is no question that being faced with uncertainty about what lies ahead can be very unnerving when you feel so vulnerable, but the best recipe for a happy future is to learn to be present with your feelings.

Building your understanding and taking your time
Understanding ourselves and our role in our relationship takes time and a willingness to be introspective. Working with a good counselor can help with this process but unfortunately there is no way to get to a place of objectivity without putting in the time and the effort. Just look around at the jump-back-in crowd. What often results is some very disheartening short-term relationships. While finding someone who you think might complete you seems romantic, we need to remember that Tom Cruise's famous one liner, "You complete me," really implied he was not complete on his own. Take your time and learn to enjoy life as a single person.

Finding the right life partner
They say that 90% of your happiness in life is dependent on who you choose as a life partner. This does not mean that we are dependent on our partner for happiness but rather that choosing the wrong one can be disastrous. In order to move forward and attract the right person and not just the same person in a different package, you have to patient, committed and have a true understanding of yourself. You have to do the "work." We know that like attracts like and so ensuring you are in a healthy place will increase the likelihood of you attracting a healthy partner. Ask yourself: Am I OK to be alone? Do I still blame my ex for our marriage breakdown or am I accountable for the outcome? Do I still have strong emotions associated with a past relationship? Have I given myself a couple of years to heal? Are my kids open to a new person in my life? Am I a healthy individual? Do I know what I am looking for? Do I know what I have to offer? If thumbs up to all then it seems like you are good to go -- but do proceed with care.