EVER so often you begin to notice that your mind strays a little… conjuring images of the bliss of new love. You spent the last little while focusing on healing, forgiveness and helping your children make a smooth transition following a life event that may have broken you all.
And as the dust from that settles and you ready yourself to re-enter the dating arena — even with a different perspective on love — you hope that this time when you hand-pick your mate, you would have made the right decision. The experience can be frightening, especially when children are involved.
These feelings, life and relationship coach and author of Mayhem, Mirth and Mastery: Memoirs of Single Parenting Caleen Diedrick said, are quite normal, noting that dating after a divorce can be met with great excitement for some people and absolute trepidation for others.
Diedrick says that while both stances are understandable, she recommends the following before proceeding:
Take time to process your emotions
Before you re-enter the dating arena, it is important that you work on truly healing and working on yourself emotionally.
“Divorces can be a messy affair. Take time to heal the emotional wounds (anger, resentment, regret, hurt, etc) before re-engaging the dating scene,” Deidrick shared.
Be clear why you want to start dating
You may be motivated to start dating again for a number of reasons — whether you are just lonely and looking for something serious, looking for companionship, or just some fun. Whatever the reason may be, Diedrick recommends that you must say this up front.
Tell your friends you are back on the market
Nothing will make your friends happier than hearing that you are ready to love and be loved again.
“So let your friends and associates know as they are a great way to meet people,” Deidrick advised.
Work on your confidence
“Revamp your closet and do what you must to boost your confidence,” Deidrick instructed. When you look good, you will feel better about yourself and this will boost self-esteem.
Start off slow
When you agree to go out on a date, don't rush things.
“Start out slow — go for drinks, meet over lunch and enjoy the feeling of being with and getting to know someone new,” Diedrick said.
Rushing into things increases the chances of you getting hurt again; and especially if you are looking for something serious, you want to avoid doing this.
Stop dwelling on the burdens of your past
“Don't talk too much about your ex and how they hurt you,” Diedrick instructed. It's human to want to share what happened or how he made you feel, but while this might give you plenty of relief, a therapist is a much better person for this job than a potential partner. In fact, your new guy may be overwhelmed with all the talk of your ex.
Be open about what you want
Speak honestly about what you are looking for and have fun. As you get closer to the individual, create the space to incorporate them in your life bit by bit.
Ditch your hard and fast rules about what love should look like
“Be open to a new experience, meaning entertain someone a little older or younger than what you're accustomed to. Try new things,” Diedrick recommends.
Make sure the relationship is serious before introducing your children
“When you have children you need to be mindful about when you choose to introduce the person. It is important that you only do this after you have both agreed that you are serious about the relationship,” Diedrick advised.
Talk to your children before the introduction
It is important that you tell your child about the person and who this person is to you before introducing them. Especially in the case of older children, you don't want to catch them off guard.
Enough with the excessive PDA
The bliss of new love can make it difficult for you to keep your hands off each other. However, when you are in the presence of your children, Diedrick says, you should limit this. “In their presence try not to get too intimate, try to avoid anything that is too hands-on, and anything that shows too much PDA in front of the children,” Diedrick recommends.