Life After Divorce-5 Signs You’re Probably Not Ready to Date
By Dr. Laura Dabney, the Intimacy MD
I’ve spent nearly 20 years helping men find their way into happy, long-term relationships. And after all these years, I’m amazed by the amount of misinformation that exists about what it takes to build and maintain a relationship. Most people assume we’re more prepared to pick the right mate the second or third time around, but the data tells a much different story. 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second, and 73% of third marriages end in divorce.
We don’t get better at picking our partners—we actually get worse. Unless we invest the time to learn from the past, if you’re reading this, you may be thinking it’s time to re-enter the dating scene. Here are five revealing signs that you’re vulnerable to repeat the mistakes of the past and why you’re probably not ready yet:
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: My ex was exactly wrong for me, so I’ll look for her exact opposite. When you swing from one extreme to another, however, you risk picking someone who eventually makes you as miserable as your ex, but for different reasons. Dating after divorce is not as easy as picking someone the complete opposite of your ex. Choose your partner because of who she is, not because of who she’s not.
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. In fact, I teach a method called Precision Dating, in which I recommend men take their time before committing. Most men rush too quickly into commitment, then spend the next several years trying to make the relationship work. If you don’t like being single, recognize that you’re at serious risk of committing too early to the wrong woman. You’re far better off to play the field and date lots of women than you are to commit to the wrong relationship.
3) Dating takes your mind off your troubles.
Life after divorce can be tricky. Life happens within and without our relationships, and often because of them. Losing yourself in a relationship can feel like a relief, but it’s nothing more than a temporary escape. Your troubles will return, and when they do, they’ll likely be bigger, hairier and more worrisome than they were before you deserted them. Wait to date again until you’re emotionally, financially, and physically stable.
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. Great relationships aren’t built on great sex; they’re built on intimacy, which, in turn, takes time and commitment. The good news, though, is that when you invest the time to build a healthy, intimate relationship, the sex also improves. In the long run, waiting for the right person is a small payoff. If you do find yourself vulnerable to one of these common mistakes, don’t take it to mean you’ll never be ready to date again. Take it as a sign that you now know building a solid foundation for your relationships 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, allowing yourself insufficient time to recover and learn from your divorce is one of the riskiest choices you can make. I call these “boomerang relationships” and not only do they have higher failure rates than average, they actually extend the time it takes to recover from your initial divorce. While experiencing life after divorce, take your time when it comes to dating. Play the field, fully test a relationship before committing. You could ultimately end up with whoever you have in mind today. If you don’t, it will be for good reason.