Divorce And Dating

Some people begin dating before the divorce is final while others wait some time afterwards to enter the world of dating. Regardless of which group you fall into, there are three distinct phases to dating that you go through.

The first phase is the “no clue what you are doing” phase. This is the time where anyone and everyone is attractive to you mostly because they are not your ex-spouse. This is when you are officially on the rebound.

This first phase of dating is not the time to be looking for another long-term relationship. You are more than likely not ready. Even if you met someone who might be a long-term match, the chances are slim that you are recovered enough from your divorce to maintain a relationship of any duration. More than likely if things began to become serious you would leave a vapor trail headed straight towards the door.

Some people in this phase do seek out, find partners, and enter into a serious relationship. Trust me, the romantic solution to bypassing any divorce pain and discomfort is not a good one. Have you ever known anybody who was recently divorced and began dating someone new and having met them you think they are identical to their ex? That is not a coincidence. They simply gravitated to what they know and is familiar to them. Sadly, this new relationship will probably end the same way as the former, just more quickly.

This phase may be punctuated by a few brief but intense passion filled relationships but without any substance to them. Eventually this phase will pass once the novelty of dating is over. You’ve dated enough to get it out of your system but you have learned that now you have to figure out what it is that you really want in a relationship partner.

The second phase is all about learning what it is that you want. If you were married for ten years and entered into the dating world looking for exactly what you married ten years before, what do you think the result would be? Over that time you have changed in many ways and the things that you liked, wanted, or desired in another has changed too. The fun part is now you don’t know what you want and have to figure all of that out.

This dating phase is all about learning. Meeting new people and developing new criteria for a partner or future spouse. You might discover that you favor tall instead of short, quiet instead of exuberant, thrifty instead of free spending. Those are just a few examples of areas where your tastes might change.

It is still fun phase to go through because you get to discover what works for you and what doesn’t. It is a great time to learn about yourself too, especially when it comes to how you want to do a relationship the next time around.

The third stage is when things get serious. This is the real mate-hunting phase. You have the wildness out of your system from the first phase and through the second phase you have come up with a list of things you desire as well as deal breakers in regards to any future partners. You have moved past the point of needing anyone in you life but want someone to share your life with instead.

In this stage of dating, your standards are strict and you don’t have any tolerance for games. You are comfortable in your own skin and you are confident. You are in a real position of power in your life to make decisions based solely on what you want and since you spent the second phase of dating figuring that out, you are not likely to compromise.

This is where you are more than likely to initiate rules into your dating life. You have been the rebound and you have been though the figuring things out stage so you are not inclined to seriously consider anyone who is in either stage behind you. That is a major challenge to being in the mate-hunting phase. You will often meet people who would be perfect only if they were more over their ex, or more ready for a serious commitment. In those situations, it is usually best to wish them the best and move on.

You finally meet the right one. Not only do they fit into your criteria of a mate but also most importantly they are in the same place you are in life and the both of you are going in the same direction. You decide to have the relationship and move forward together.

The three stages of dating are important to work through an each one has its specific purpose. The first phase is about validation and regaining a sense that you are attractive and desirable by others. If you did not get that in your marriage or last relationship, that validation phase can be very important. What is more important is that you are not stuck there and you move on to the figuring out what you want phase and getting past that. The third phase is when the magic happens. You are healed from your past hurts, stronger from your experiences, educated from your past, and clear headed about what you want.

Dating after a divorce can be a trying experience that takes a lot of time. However, like everything in life, you can’t win if you don’t play. When you are ready to get out there, go ahead and do it. When you are ready.

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – Certified Life Coach – Aspen, Colorado

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