It can be hard to imagine ever dating again while you are going through a divorce. It takes most of your emotional energy to remain present with the practical decisions that need to be made while you are navigating the heartbreak and loneliness that can often come along with a divorce. Like most things, it simply takes time before you feel you are ready to get back out in the dating world. One of the benefits of a collaborative divorce is that it is designed to reduce conflict and the resulting drama that can occur in a traditional divorce. When you approach your divorce with a healthy, communicative attitude, it can make room for you to begin to nurture yourself, and eventually, relationships with other people.
Once you have turned the corner in your divorce and are starting to consider the future, it can be beneficial to begin by focusing on yourself. This can look like talking to a therapist, returning to a favorite hobby you haven’t had time for in a while, or going the extra mile to pamper yourself. A good diet, exercise, and lots of sleep are always important, but perhaps more so when you are going through a big life change. Even with a collaborative divorce, going from a married lifestyle to a single one can be take its toll. By giving yourself the necessary time out to nurture your own well being–both emotional and physical–you may find you have more to give when the time comes to date.
If you are beginning to feel an interest in dating again, a great way to approach this with less pressure is to organize group outings. Whether you go to a new restaurant with your best girlfriends or get people from the office together for a night of bowling, you can start to exercise your social muscles as a single person while you meet new people. This can be more comfortable than jumping right into one-on-one dates, and by participating in fun activities you enjoy, you will naturally meet people with similar interests.
If you meet someone who sparks your interest, remember that there is no rush. You can take it as slowly as you need to, and it’s important to be honest with the person about your emotional availability. A supportive, mature individual who is generally interested in you will be willing to wait and develop a friendship while you are processing your divorce. There is no “right way” or “right time,” so go with what feels healthy and natural. If your ex-spouse is still a part of your life (which is often the case if there are children involved), it can be thoughtful to let them know that you are dating again. If he or she was able to work with you through a healthy collaborative divorce process, chances are he or she will be willing to behave respectfully towards you and any new people who come into your life.
If you are just starting the divorce process and can’t imagine dating right now, that’s ok and completely normal. Every relationship, couple, and divorce are unique. Listening to yourself, your partner, and your collaborative divorce team as you move through the divorce process is a great first step towards maintaining a healthy mental and emotional state that will serve you once you are ready to explore dating again.