Dating Successfully After Divorce

09/22/2010 02:37 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

When you're part of a married couple you never think about the dreaded "D" word -- divorce. But with one out of five marriages ending in separation or divorce, the safety we find in being a couple is tenuous. At some point any one of us can find ourselves thrust, unwillingly, into the divorced person's dating game.

What do we do when we are no longer part of a couple? What happens when "we" reverts back to "me?" How do you face the prospect of putting yourself on display out there again? Can you manage to do this post-marriage dating successfully? You can and you will.

First of all ask yourself if you're really ready to start dating again. Rushing into any relationship simply to avoid being alone is not beneficial to anyone and will likely end in disaster. Give yourself enough time to mourn the end of one relationship before you get involved in a new one.

If you decide that you do want to begin dating you need to look at the whole package you present as yourself. You are not the same person you were before marriage. Emotionally and mentally you know you have changed. You've matured, lived some, added new dimensions to your life, and have a good idea of who you are. That makes you better and more in-tune with your being.

What about physically? Do you like what you see in the mirror or is it time for a change? A new hairstyle, new make-up and clothes can make you feel and look good and add a feeling that you are becoming a new, improved you. A good exercise and nutritional program can do wonders for your attitude as well as your health. If you are taking care of yourself it shows in how you view your life and your relationships with others.

Are you contemplating a bigger change in your looks? A documentary aired a few years back mentioned that more divorced women, and an increasing number of divorced men, were seeking the services of cosmetic surgeons than ever before. They were eager to enter the dating game looking as good as they possibly could. One word of caution about making physical changes: Whatever you decide to do, just be sure to be reasonable and not do something drastic. Start with small non-surgical changes; they may be all you really need.

Check your mental attitude. Are you bitter and angry over the divorce? If you are, begin making attitude adjustments that will help you put that part of your life in an area that won't impact your present and future. It's called "the past," for a reason. Moving forward with your life means that you have learned from your past and now value creating a happy present and future.

Be true to yourself. Now is a good time to think about what you want and need out of a new relationship. Be completely honest about this. Self-discovery is something you need to do before you re-enter the dating scene. When you're ready to date, decide the best places for you to socialize. Make a list of your interests so you'll find like-minded people. Let friends know that you're available to meet new people and begin dating.

Dating successfully after a divorce depends on what type of relationship you're looking for and how you want your future life to be. Take your time and begin slowly to cultivate your new life. Keep in mind that you want it to be a happy and fulfilling one. Dating someone new should enhance all you want life to be.

To read more from Kristen Houghton, peruse her articles at Kristen and visit her Keys to Happiness blog.
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