Esther Kane, a Courtenay, B.C.-based psychotherapist who has counseled many women going through divorce, says dating soon after your divorce has its pros – as well as cons.
According to Kane, some of the pros include:
• An immediate boost to self-esteem;
• feeling attractive again;
• having fun;
• feeling younger and free again; and
• realizing divorce doesn't mean the end of future relationships.
On the other hand, says Kane, cons of dating sooner rather than later include:
• Becoming attached to someone who's just not that into you, or vice versa;
• feeling empty afterwards – and missing your ex even more;
• opening yourself up to being treated badly ("When we jump into bed with someone we don't know, we never know what we're getting into," says Kane); and
• health risks, such as STDs or unplanned pregnancy.
Waiting to date
Heather Williamson (not her real name), a mother of two who got divorced in 2001, started a new relationship even before her divorce was finalized. Ironically, she wasn't looking to date at all after the dissolution of her nine-year-long relationship (which included six years of marriage). Heather regards herself as having "waited," having resisted attempts by friends to set her up even sooner.
"I was focused on raising my kids [then a baby and a preschooler] and making money to support them," says Heather, whose ex was reneging on child support at the time. "My work schedule was crazy and included a lot of travel. I couldn't even think about dating."
Nonetheless, over the course of several months, friends pressured Heather to go out with a guy they felt was her perfect match. She resisted, but finally caved when a coworker, knowing of her hectic schedule, commented that "if I went out on the blind date with this guy, I'd be able to at least sit down and eat a full meal without multitasking," she says.
Heather went on the date and had a great time. Eight years later, Heather and her "rebound guy" own a house together, are engaged to be married – and are parents of a baby girl.
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According to Heather, credit for this successful relationship goes to her willingness to wait things out. "I didn't feel like I needed to date," she says. "The bigger picture was, I was busy, and my kids were little and needed me. I had to deal with a challenging job and the divorce from hell,."
Heather says she put dating low on her list of priorities, a fact she was upfront about with her new beau. "I was very limited in when I could see him; I couldn't just drop everything and go out for drinks on any given night. I said, 'I can only see you every other Friday, or Tuesday nights.' I wasn't that flexible," she says now.
Today, she credits her choosiness with her finding a "quality man." Good things come to women – and men – who wait.
Post-divorce dating basics
The good news, Heather reports, is that dating after divorce can be incredibly liberating. "You can reinvent yourself with a stranger who doesn't know your past," she says, adding that even "hen nights" with girlfriends often ended up with everyone discussing her divorce. "On a date, I wasn't going to talk about my ex, or my kids – it was an escape, a chance to not worry about that other stuff."
Are you ready to get back into the game? Here are some tips for dating again after your divorce.
• Take it slow. Don't start your search for Husband Number Two right out of the gate. First concentrate on having a good time and feeling comfortable dating.
• Treat yourself. Eat well, exercise, get enough sleep. If you feel good, you'll be happy – a personality trait that's very attractive.
• Keep standards high – but realistic. Is he a player? Skip him. Does he meet your "Only 6' 2" and over may apply" rule? Maybe it's time to relax that rule – you may be missing out on a great guy.
• Separate your family life and dating life. Don't introduce your kids to your dates. They shouldn't meet your new man until you’re in a committed relationship.
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