So since I started this blog I have gotten amazing email from people all over the country and people all over the world about their own personal struggles of living a post-divorce life. Most of the questions and concerns are about dating. And I certainly don’t have all the answers as I am a bit of a mess in that department myself. But the question I get a lot is
When will I be ready?
And all I can say is that the answer is different for every person. It has been three years for me, and I am not even sure of the answer for myself. One of the problems of a newly divorced person is that nearly every waking thought is about your divorce and about your ex. Of course this isn’t the case with everyone, but I have found it is more the norm than it is the exception. A potential partner can and will pick up on this, and it will be a huge warning sign to them that you aren’t ready. For instance if everything the other person says on the date leads you to say in response…
- That is just like my ex
- I can relate because of my divorce
- Do you know what my ex did?
- I had the same thing with my ex
Basically the more times you bring your ex up, the crazier you are going to sound. And you are a little crazy as divorce is an extremely traumatic event in any adults life. So, here is a trick that my therapist gave to me, and I recently repeated to a friend that will help.
Stop referring to your ex by their first name, instead reduce them to simply…”my ex”
You don’t have to do this with people who know your ex well, or family members. In fact doing that might read as insensitive. But if you are meeting a potential date, mention your ex as little as possible, and if you do don’t use their first name. You will find in time this will become effortless, and you won’t find yourself even having to think about it. Also try like hell not to talk about your divorce, your settlement, custody agreement, or the reason why you got divorced to a new potential partner. Again much easier said than done, as I know I still have this problem. I am worlds away from where I was a year ago, or two years ago but my divorce is a huge part of my life. It doesn’t help that I am currently working on my memoir. Writing a book isn’t exactly a casual affair as it tends to take up most of my thoughts, most of the time. So I am in an especially strange situation of working for hours on something I shouldn’t talk about when meeting someone new. Hopefully you aren’t writing a book about your divorce! So talk about anything and everything else!
Also try getting your feet wet without plunging into the pool. Don’t set out to have a committed relationship right off the bat, and do NOT think of terms of replacing your ex. Try to date multiple people casually, maybe even without much of a sexual component to the relationships. Go on group dates with your friends instead of forcing yourself to sit across the table from a virtual stranger before you are ready. Surround yourself with people who love and support you, rather than putting yourself out in a dating pool full of sharks. Some men and women seem like the answer to your prayers at first, only to drop you like a hot rock when they find a less complicated mate. Some are just player types who want to bed as many people as they can and care little about your feelings. Others might be just as screwed up as you are after a divorce and you could find yourself in a co-dependent nightmare. You don’t want to be a burden on someone, you want a balanced healthy relationship. In order to have a healthy relationship you have to be able to stand on your own two feet before involving another person.
I really don’t have a definitive answer on the exact length of time post-divorce and anyone who gives you an exact time frame should be viewed as suspect. You will know when your divorce and your ex does not consume your every thought. You will know when you are not so desperate for a replacement for what you thought you had with your ex. You will know when you are comfortable and happy on your own, and it could take a few months or maybe a few years before that happens. Again I say this from experience, as a very deeply flawed person that I am myself.