Navigating the waters following a divorce can be challenging. Not only are you more emotionally vulnerable, but those who were close to the relationship are also likely feeling the effects of what happened.
There comes a point when you may ask yourself the question: “am I ready to date again?” There is no right answer to this question, and the time period following a divorce will be different for everyone. Still, there is a certain period that should be respected in the days and months following the end of a relationship. This is for a number of reasons, not the least of which is ensuring you, your former spouse, and your family members have the time and space to accept the aftermath of the divorce.
The Two Year Rule
Experts and divorcees agree that two years seems to be the magic number when it comes to the amount of time needed post break-up. Going through a divorce is an emotionally traumatic experience, and one that can cause people to re-examine key elements of their life. Mix that self-reflection with what experts say is often a period of depression, anxiousness, and an inability to focus, and you have a time that is best left for personal self-development and discovery.
Taking time is valuable, and starting a relationship when you’re not ready could postpone the grieving and emotional soul searching you should have done in the days following a divorce. Be clear with any matchmaking friends that you want to take some time to think. Accept that it may take a while before you feel like yourself again, and recognize that is okay.
No Ill Will towards Your Ex
It’s inevitable to think about your former spouse in the period following your divorce. Whether these are thoughts of anger, regret, longing, or sadness, they’re all emotions that make you remember and perceive that person in one way or another. If you’re still fuming at your ex, you’re probably not ready to move on. If you’re still missing your ex, you’re probably not ready to move on. It is important to work through the complex emotions you associate with your former spouse. If you begin to date too soon, you may carry old resentments or habits into your new relationship. That won’t do you or your new partner any favors.
Feeling neutral about your former spouse does not mean you have to accept them back into your life. It does, however, mean you should be at a state where you could see them in public and feel relatively unaffected by the encounter. You should also be able to interact with a prospective partner without thinking constantly of your former partner.
Figure Out What You Want
Marriages end for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that you and your spouse weren’t providing one another with what the other person wanted and needed. Before you move on and start dating, figure out what exactly it is you’re looking for. Perhaps you want someone patient and insightful who will support you as you start a new career. Or maybe you want a person who is adventurous and shares your love of the outdoors. These characteristics and qualities can have some similarities with your former partner, but make an effort to identify what made you unhappy with your last relationship and adjust your expectations and desires accordingly.
Ultimately, you will be the only one who can tell if you’re ready to date again. Recognize your post-divorce period for what it is: an opportunity to take time for yourself to reflect on that former relationship and what you want for the next one.