Life After Divorce: Are You Ready to Date?

Life After Divorce-5 Signs You’re Probably Not Ready to Date

By Dr. Laura Dabney

I’ve spent nearly 20 years helping people find their way into happy, long-term, intimate relationships. After all these years, I’m still amazed by the amount of misinformation that exists about what it takes to not only build, but to then maintain a healthy relationship. A common misconception that most people have is that we’re more prepared to pick the right mate the second or third time around; however, the data tells a much different story. Fifty percent of first marriages, 67% of second, and 73% of third marriages end in divorce.

Yes, you read that right. We don’t get better at picking our partners—we actually get worse with each subsequent marriage.

Unless we invest the time into ourselves and work to learn from the past, we are bound to make the same mistakes. To prevent making those same mistakes and repeating the cycle as you reenter the dating scene, I encourage you to keep these five revealing signs in mind to help you determine if you’re not ready to date.

1) You believe you need a partner who’s the exact opposite of your ex.

You’re not ready to date again if your mind is still jumping to extremes. Looking for the exact opposite of your former partner will not guarantee that you do not make the same mistakes. If anything, you risk picking someone who eventually makes you as miserable as your ex, but for different reasons.

When choosing your partner, you should choose someone that is a complement to you and your personality. It’s important to find someone whose interests and personality overlaps with yours, bringing a much needed balance to the relationship.

Here are a couple of examples of relationships that are a complement and their opposite:

  • Your complement loves football, while you prefer baseball. Your opposite would ask you to attend a musical.
  • A complement loves authors like John Grisham, while you prefer autobiographical works. Your opposite doesn’t read at all.

A successful relationship has this healthy balance. Waiting until you are emotionally ready to find this balance and refrain from seeking the opposite of your ex is imperative to maintaining a healthy, intimate relationship.

2) You don’t like being single for very long.

There’s nothing wrong with dating a lot, as long as you’re honest about your intentions with yourself and those who you are dating. Most people have the tendency to rush too quickly into commitment. Then they spend the next several years trying to make the relationship work.

A method I teach to help avoid rushing into committed relationships before you are ready is called Precision Dating. Precision Dating comes down to making crucial and informed decisions at three points in your relationship. As well as understanding that every troubled relationship has its warning signals from the very beginning.

not ready to date

An example I like to use is that you should treat dating almost like buying a car. Now, in no way am I saying dating a person is like making a purchase. What I am saying is the expectations you take with you while dating should be similar to the expectations you hold when selecting a new car.

You are expected to test drive as many cars as you can, do your research, and believe in every aspect of your decision before you sign the dotted line and drive away. Dating is about the experience, not the destination. Your objective isn’t just to find a partner, it’s to find a partner who meets your needs, who matches your goals, and builds your confidence. Finding them may require you to try new things and immerse yourself in new situations, but the result will be worth the effort.

Precision Dating is about helping you move only the right relationships from casual to intimate. It requires you to trust your critical judgment and it may require some difficult, yet crucial decisions. But in the end, you will establish a foundation for trustworthy and worthwhile relationships that last.

3) Dating takes your mind off your troubles.

Navigating your life after a divorce can be tricky. Oftentimes, people believe that losing themselves in a relationship will feel like a relief; however, it’s nothing more than a temporary escape.

Let’s face it, love is almost like a drug. Those beginning stages of a relationship when you’re completely infatuated with your new partner are addicting. But that infatuation fades, and the troubles you are trying to escape by being in a relationship will return after that relationship ends, and they will likely be bigger and more worrisome than before.

It is imperative that you take the time to fall in love with yourself before you look for outside validation. First take the time to figure out what you truly want out of your life and become emotionally, financially, and physically stable enough to be with another person.  Then you can begin exploring dating.

4) You primarily miss sex.

So, great—you enjoy sex. That’s a good thing! If it’s your primary motivation for getting back into dating, however, you’ve got your priorities wrong. Truly great relationships are not built simply on great sex; they’re built on intimacy.

What do I mean by intimacy? I mean being able to communicate, trust, share feelings, and have a close relationship with your romantic partner.

not ready to date

Intimacy is not something you can achieve over the course of a few dates. It’s something that takes time and effort to develop and foster. When you invest the time and energy into building a healthy and intimate relationship with the right person, you will find that your sex life improves.

If you do find yourself vulnerable to entering into relationships strictly for sex, don’t take it to mean that you’re doomed to remain single and unhappy for the rest of your life. Recognize your mistake and learn from it. Take it as a sign that you now know building a solid foundation for your relationship is the best investment you can make toward your future happiness.

5) You’ve already got someone in mind.

As tempting as it is to jump into another relationship after the pain of a break-up, you are not allowing yourself sufficient time to recover and learn from your divorce. This is one of the riskiest choices you can make when you reenter the dating world.

I like to call these relationships “boomerang relationships.” Not only do they have higher failure rates than average, but they actually extend the time it takes to recover from your initial divorce.

Oftentimes, when we enter these boomerang relationships, we find ourselves dating the same person over and over again, or worse yet, we find ourselves pining over the person we just divorced.

It is important to allow yourself a chance to heal from your divorce and be at peace within yourself before jumping into a relationship. I can’t tell you that in three weeks or three months that you’ll be ready to date. Each person is different. Great relationships have come on the heels of a divorce or years later. If you want to jump into a relationship immediately, it may turn out great, but keep in mind everything that was discussed above. Especially the signs of the boomerang relationship. If you find yourself comparing the person unfavorably to your ex, or if the main purpose of the relationship is so you are not alone, or if you don’t see a future, it’s not fair to the person you are dating to continue.

Final Thoughts

Everyone deserves to find love and be in a healthy relationship. However, it is important to remember that it may take some time before you are fully ready to date again. This time is best used to learn about the mistakes you made in your marriage or past relationship and how not to repeat them.

It’s also a time to learn how to use your critical judgment wisely and not choose someone who has red flags, rather someone with compatible interests, self-control, empathy, and an ability to sustain intimacy.

Once you are ready, play the field, cast a wide net, and fully test a new relationship before fully committing to it.

Think you are ready to date again? Read our article Precision Dating Advice for Men

Are you interested in learning more? You can always check out my Dating After Divorce Program and Unlimited Email Coaching Program developed for men just like you.

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