It's been a month since she moved out. You sit and stare at an empty couch and bed that once were occupied. Suddenly, you find yourself joining online dating sites to fill the void. You hastily scroll through hundreds of profiles, message a bunch of gorgeous, sexy women and set up a date for each night you don't have the kids. Several men I work with at The Art of Charm come in with this scenario and with the strong desire to quickly "get back out there." They want to know how to get their "game" on and figure out when is the best time to start dating again. Should they date right away? How do you know when you're ready? Many people struggle with this. It's tough to put a timeline on when to date again; it really depends on an individual's situation.
Consider these important questions to help determine when dating again is right for you.
What is the length of your marriage? The amount of time you were married is an important factor that influences your readiness to date. The longer the marriage, the longer it takes to get over the relationship, so make sure you have really dealt with your split or else your dates will pick up on the fact that you are not ready. I also have had clients say that the relationship had been over long before they actually divorced. They were sleeping in separate bedrooms or had been physically separated for months, which will also affect someone's ability to move on.
Are there kids involved? Trying to balance time with your kids, work and dating isn't easy. Being a single parent is stressful and life with children isn't always hugs and sweet candy kisses. Managing custodial schedules and babysitters in order to date is difficult. Moreover, children may not be ready to have another parental figure thrown into the mix right away so it is important to take things slowly.
What was the nature of the divorce? Everyone has a unique story about why and how their marriage dissolved. The nature of the breakup and the intensity of emotions involved are important dynamics that affect dating. There is a big difference between an angry split caused by infidelity and/or financial issues and an amicable ending in which a couple simply "grew apart." If there was a lot of resentment in the divorce, it is important to take some time to deal with those emotions. If not, this negativity might leak into your dates and you may inadvertently talk damagingly about your ex. This will make your dates feel uncomfortable and consequently run for the hills!
What was your dating experience prior to marriage? Many people over the age of 45 who I've worked with didn't have a lot of dating experience prior to getting married. If your last date before getting hitched was going to a fraternity party in college, for example, then you may now find yourself feeling like a fish out of water. You may need a longer period of time to rediscover yourself by learning what your passions are and determining what your deal breakers are.
Was the divorce mutual? There is definitely a difference between a couple who mutually decided to end things verses a couple where only one party wanted the divorce. If you never really wanted the marriage to end, you might mistakenly try to "fix" things by dating others for the wrong reasons such as to trying to make the other spouse jealous, replaying the interaction with your spouse with someone similar or just trying to lessen the pain. Make sure you have really dealt with the issues and have taken the time to heal before jumping into the dating scene.
These are crucial questions to ask yourself after divorce in determining if you are ready to date. You need time to grieve and work through the loss rather than just numbing the pain with a bunch of dates. I have found in my personal experience and in working with so many divorced clients that the more time people take to work on themselves and deal with turbulent emotions post-split, the more successful they are at dating again.