how to start dating again

How to Start Dating Again After a Divorce or Breakup

Dating is likely the last thing on your mind if you’ve just ended a long-term relationship!

An ugly divorce or breakup can be emotionally draining, yet going your separate ways might be the best option if you’re in a bad marriage or the relationship just isn’t working.

Although time heals all wounds, the toxicity from the past relationship won’t likely go away immediately after the breakup.

Learning to stop caring about your ex and moving on takes time, but you can do it.

To help you get back into the dating pool, I’ll share some great tips on how to start dating again after a divorce or breakup.

First, let’s get clear on some fundamentals.

How Long Should You Wait After Divorce or Breakup Before Dating Again?

kissing a lady’s hand during a date

There is no universally acceptable waiting period when it comes to how long to wait after a breakup before dating again.

It all comes down to your circumstances and how long it takes you to heal from the pain of losing your previous relationship.

That said, it is usually a good idea to allow several months or even a year after a divorce to start dating.

The reason for this is simple: moving on takes time!

But what if you are happy that you finally ended an unhealthy relationship?

Indeed, walking out on an unhappy marriage is liberating, but there is more to ending a relationship than is immediately obvious.

For one, you will likely lose confidence in your ability to make the right decisions when it comes to romance.

Rebuilding this confidence takes time, so it is important to give yourself enough time to be really ready before getting back into the dating scene.

One of the clear signs that you’re emotionally ready to get back out there is when the thought of exploring romantic possibilities no longer scares you.

Should You Be Dating During Divorce?

couple having a coffee date

It is usually better not to get emotionally involved with another person while going through a divorce.

Dating, whether multiple people or just one person, while you’ve not properly ended a relationship, can complicate issues, especially in an established union like marriage

If you’re considering visiting dating sites while still legally married, take a look at these potential downsides of dating during a divorce process:

  • It can complicate your divorce, cost you more money in attorney fees, and take longer to finalize the process.
  • Seeing someone else before your divorce is final can be extremely stressful and confusing for kids.
  • It can affect shared child custody and make it difficult to reach amicable parental arrangements.
  • You’re less likely to fully focus on the person you are dating, making it stressful for them.
  • You are legally married until your divorce is final, so seeing other people might be considered adultery and, in some cases, indirectly affect alimony and property division.

Bottom line: wait until the divorce is final before you start dating again.

With that out of the way, here are ways to get your act together after a breakup and start dating again.

10 Tips on How to Start Dating Again After a Divorce or Breakup

romantic couple on a picnic

1. Permit Yourself to Grieve Your Loss

Losing a relationship can be devastating, particularly a long-term monogamous one. It is okay to experience various emotions ― sadness, anger, rage, loneliness, and more.

Take as long as you need to experience the different emotions. Don’t rush into finding romantic connections while you’re still grieving because you’ll likely date for the wrong reasons to avoid your difficult emotions.

Once you feel surefooted about managing your feelings, you can start tiptoeing into the dating scene.

Remember not to take too much time grieving, though.

Grieving the end of a relationship for too long might become an excuse to keep you from loving and being loved again. Besides, it increases your chances of wallowing in self-pity.

If you’re unsure, ask yourself if you are really not ready yet or just afraid to step out of your lonely box and be hurt again.

2. Get Over Your Previous Relationship

Understandably, you can’t simply erase the memory of your past relationship. There’s no delete button when it comes to matters of the heart.

Yet, it is extremely important to close the chapter of your previous relationship before considering the possibility of dating.

Your potential future partner doesn’t deserve to deal with emotional baggage from your past relationship, so make sure you are over your ex before looking for new romantic connections.

Unfortunately, many people think they’re over their ex just because they no longer love or like them.

But here’s the thing.

You’re still emotionally connected to your ex if you can’t stop thinking or talking about them or the relationship.

It doesn’t matter if you like or hate your former spouse; any strong feeling for them ― positive or negative ― is emotional baggage and only shows you’re stuck in the past.

However, don’t beat yourself up if you still care for your ex.

Be honest with yourself and avoid dating if you’re hoping to patch things up with your ex. And yes, you can rebuild your marriage during a separation.

It is even possible to remarry your ex-spouse if you still care about each other or realize you were happier together than apart.

3. Identify What Went Wrong in Your Previous Relationship

man carrying a woman in his back

Walking away from a bad marriage or relationship is great. But starting a new one without figuring out why the previous one failed will likely result in the same outcome.

The relationship may be new, but you are still the same you!

In other words, you will repeat the same behavior in the new relationship unless you identify what you did wrong before and change.

Do the inner work by reflecting on how you contributed to the failure of your previous relationship because it takes two to tango.

Even if your ex was outrightly abusive or made you feel not good enough, there’s usually something you did (or did not do) to encourage bad behavior or an unhealthy relationship.

Learning to date again isn’t just about downloading a few apps or knowing what dating sites to visit. It involves character development and personal growth ― working to improve your flaws and learning to sidestep potholes in an intimate relationship.

4. Reconnect With What You Love

Knowing how to start dating again after a breakup can be challenging if you lose your sense of self. This is especially true for people coming out of a long-term relationship.

Understandably, individuals in a committed relationship like marriage tend to prioritize what they love doing as a couple over some of the things they enjoy doing alone.

One of the ways to reignite your passion after a divorce or breakup is by tapping into the things you enjoy doing.

Here’s what I recommend:

  • Make a list of all the things that make your heart sing but which you couldn’t do because of your previous relationship.
  • Start doing those things and thoroughly enjoy them. Doing something you are passionate about after a breakup (whether it’s a hobby or a strong interest) can help in the healing process.

How does this help you get back to dating?

Reconnecting with your passion may not directly put you back on the dating scene, but it does two important things.

First, it helps you clarify what you truly enjoy doing and identify potential partners with common interests.

Secondly, when you eventually start dating, doing what you love can inspire you to creative date ideas around your interests.

5. Permit Yourself to Date Again

When you feel ready, put yourself out there and give a romantic connection a chance again.

You may have been off the market for eons, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find someone who likes you and takes you seriously.

However, that can only happen when you decide to step out of your lonely box and start dating again.

6. Take Things Slow at First

It is possible to hit it off with someone as soon as you start dating again. However, sharing many things in common with a date doesn’t necessarily translate to a long-term connection.

This is why it is usually best to limit contact to phone conversations at first rather than rushing headlong into intimate one-on-ones from the very beginning.

Remember that dating again after ending a long-term relationship can leave you feeling lonely and needing external validation. Anyone who showers you with lots of attention in your vulnerable state will naturally seem like they truly understand you, even if their motives are selfish.

For this reason, you want to stay on top of your emotions and go slow, regardless of the chemistry between you.

7. Be Positive but Have Reasonable Expectations

One of the best tips on how to start dating again after ending your marriage is to avoid setting yourself up for disappointments.

By that, I mean being open to the possibilities that dating brings but not fixating on a particular outcome.

For example, you might be disappointed (more than once!) if you date someone hoping you’ll marry them.

A more helpful approach is to look at dating as a chance to learn more about yourself and preferences about potential romantic partners.

It doesn’t matter how long you date or how many people you date before finding the right person to start a relationship with. The most important thing is to enter your next relationship for the right reasons.

8. Tread Carefully if Someone Seems Flawless

If a date seems too perfect, they are probably hiding something, and that’s never a good sign. There is no such thing as a perfect individual, so you want to be extra cautious if someone checks all the boxes on your list.

Of course, just because someone is really nice to you doesn’t mean they are shady.

However, you might be dealing with someone with ulterior motives if you notice one or more of the following red flags:

  • They try to replace everyone or take the central place in your life with no room for anyone else
  • They make incredible promises
  • They try to get you to commit too soon

If you’re unsure about someone, don’t hesitate to seek outside perspective from people you trust, such as family and close friends.

9. Come Clean About Your Past

It is important to be honest about your past relationship, life, kids (if you have any), and interests. This is especially true if you find someone who might be a potential partner.

Being honest from the onset removes surprises down the line.

Put your cards on the table (just as you expect the other person to), so you’ll know any deal breakers from the get-go.

10. Listen to Your Instinct

Lastly, listen to your gut feeling and trust that you’ll make the right decision. If something about a date feels off, stop seeing them.

Work on improving your self-esteem if you have to, but whatever you do, don’t put up with any red flags just because you’re scared of ending up alone.

Similarly, be bold enough to tell someone you’ll like to keep seeing them if they “feel” right. Never allow negative self-talk and self-limiting beliefs to convince you that you’re not good enough for them.

Bottom Line

Knowing how to date again after a divorce or breakup can be challenging. But don’t allow poor romantic choices and past mistakes to define your future love life.

Give yourself enough time to heal from the hurt and pain of your loss, and when you’re emotionally ready, allow yourself to explore the possibilities that come with dating.

Move on and avoid comparing your dates to your ex, as doing so only binds you to their energy. Live in the present moment and thoroughly enjoy yourself because you deserve romance and true happiness!

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