After an end to a decade of marriage, my entire world was turned upside down. The pain was not in the loss of the covenant alone (that I still wanted to uphold). It was also in the loss of my own identity. When I got married, I kissed dating, and the thought of having to look for anyone else, goodbye. Emerging onto the dating scene again was very foreign feeling that led to a laundry list of insecurities, fears, assumptions and apprehensions.
Dating after divorce can be intimidating. Despite such bad connotations, it can transform a sour past and an uncertain future into a beautiful beginning. Here are some things I learned about dating fearlessly after divorce.
Identity: You Still Have One
In marriage, we become accustomed to a lifestyle that involves another person being around all of the time. We share everything, plan everything and do most everything together. Everything about our life is transformed to parallel with a married lifestyle. When marriage ends, it can feel like we are thrust backwards a thousand steps.
There were a thousand thoughts, feelings and emotions I felt after divorce. Many of which left me questioning my future that had always accounted for my (then) wife being there. But now, what was I going to do with my life? Where would I go? Could I win back so much time that felt wastefully lost? Most importantly … who was I without someone else?
It took what seemed like years to learn that I had found a truer version of myself after divorce than I was when I was married. I realized who I was and what my God-given purpose was. Divorce was the confrontation I needed to have to found myself. I hadn’t lost my identity; I just had to find it.
You might feel lost for a while after divorce. But don’t let that discourage you from digging deep within to find out who you are now. God will use anything and everything – even divorce – to mold you into the person He created you to be. The feeling of being “lost” is not an indicator that you have lost your identity, but an indicator that the real thing is incubating. And when you break free from the cocoon of that journey, you will know yourself like never before.
Pain, Baggage And Overcoming
It is all too common to carry our past into our present and future. Emotional wounds, low expectations, fear, doubt and uncertainty are all common products of divorce.
Dating after divorce can be whatever you want it to be. But in my opinion, successfully dating after divorce requires introspection, as well as identifying how a future with someone else will benefit and bless who you are. You’ll also want to consider how you will do the same for them in return, which may require unloading a bit of that emotional baggage.
Rules Of The Road
While dating after divorce, I learned that having some loose rules helped to keep me on track. Here are a few things I would encourage anyone who is considering dating after being divorced to consider adding to their own rule book:
- Don’t date seriously if you are not ready to be exclusive, and be clear about your intentions.
- Invest in self-discovery/assessment. The more you know about yourself, the better you represent yourself.
- Know your deal-breakers, and be consistent.
- Don’t bring the pain of your past into the present. Take the time to grieve and heal first.
- Do your homework. Read articles and books on how to have successful relationships, be a great communicator and understanding the mind of the opposite sex.
- Don’t personalize rejection or failed attempts. Learn, grow and keep moving forward.
- Do not rebound. If your heart is not whole, healed and ready, you are setting yourself up for more hurt.
- Do not get hung up on any one person that is not equally interested in you back.
- Do not commit prematurely, but do not fear commitment.
- Be 100% vulnerable, and 100% you. The right person cannot find you if you are hiding who you are.
- If your dating life seems unusually confusing, look for what God may be trying to show you.
- Listen to The Holy Spirit, but don’t use The Holy Spirit as an excuse in lieu of your responsibility to do the right thing.
Yes, dating after divorce can be intimidating, but once you get back in the saddle, it can also be a ton of fun. Divorce is not the end. The best is yet to come!
You may also be interested in How I Fought Dating Frustration & Found Love