After divorce, your friends and family may encourage you to return to the dating scene. “It will lift your spirits,” they might tell you. “You need to head back out there.”
But while they may be well meaning, your heart might not be ready. Immediately following a separation is not always the best time to try speed dating or let friends introduce you around.
First, you need time to heal. If you did not initiate the separation, you might still be reeling from the idea that you will not be with your partner “til death do us part.” That adjustment will take time. You will need to recover and reframe your idea of how life will look in the next few years. Even if you did initiate, it’s time to listen to your internal self, and remember who you are as a person.
Second, you need time to manage the divorce itself and life changes that come with it. You may be finding a new place to live. You may be figuring out how to co-parent peacefully. You’ll be spending time with your lawyer and possibly a therapist. And in North Carolina, your divorce won’t be official for at least one full year. This is time to focus on you and all of the many things going on. The stress of dating doesn’t need to be part of the mix.
So how do you know you’re ready?
1. You’ve finally reached “neutral” about your ex. You’re no longer in love, and you’ve also let go of that urge to kill him for running out on you. When you think of him or her, you don’t feel much of anything, no butterflies or pits in the stomach, and maybe even some well wishes.
2. You know what you want. Separating from someone always presents a lesson about what works for you in a partner and what doesn’t. Do you know what your deal breakers are?
3. You feel ready and excited about the future. The main indicator you’re ready to date is that you don’t shy away from the idea. Meeting new people can be exciting and fun, full of romance and hope. If you feel that way, it’s time to try!
There’s no set time period for how long it will take you to reach this point. The year-long waiting period required by North Carolina divorce is a good start. But you may need another year or even two on your own before you feel ready. That’s OK.
Be sure to let friends know that you will let them introduce you when the time is right. After all, starting anew should be something you step into willingly, not something you’re dragged into.
Learn more about the emotional impacts of divorce from our therapists, who presents each month in our divorce workshop. Register: https://www.secondsaturdaywakecounty.com/registration/.