Go slow when it comes to dating after divorce

Aloha Cary,

My divorce finalized 10 months ago and I still have moments of anger and frustration. Some of my family and friends say I should start dating to get over my ex and move into my new life. Do you agree? Also, any suggestions on dating and juggling two kids — 9 and 11?

Cautious For New Love, Poipu

Aloha Cautious For New Love,

Dating after divorce is best when it’s not rushed. Sounds like you are still clearing out emotions from your past marriage; my suggestion is to not force the issue, yet be proactive in clearing out the pain. Naturally in time, the difficult emotions will melt away from the warmth of love in your heart and a desire to have a new companion. When you feel ready, go forward.

By following a few steps, you’ll easily prepare yourself for dating:

Clarity

Here are some self-reflection questions to ponder and get clear on: What happened in the marriage that created the divorce? Anything I could have done differently or better to transform the relationship? Did you both desire to make it better? Did you seek out a relationship coach or counselor to guide you and offer you tools to turn the challenging issues around? Do you know now, how to have a better relationship in the future?

Time to heal

How much on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the most intense) do you still feel angry, abandoned, hurt, overwhelmed, scared, self-pity, etc., about your past relationship?

A sign that you are ready to move on is: when you have transformed your emotional pains, forgiving yourself and him, can see the good and the not so good parts of the marriage and be OK with it.

Have fun

Begin the road back to dating by changing your norm. Maybe get in better shape. Take a yoga class, get some flattering new clothes or newly styled haircut. These will make you feel better emotionally, physically and spiritually. Be strong on your own, feel more self-confidence and joy, before dating again. Today’s dating game is different than years ago; approach this new time as a playful adventure. You may even try going out with someone who isn’t your type, just for the fun of trying something new.

No need to find Mr. Right quickly. Relax. Resist going overboard with the first person you date, because it’s new and you’re not used to feeling good around a potential partner for a while. Therefore, before calling your girlfriends and telling them how dreamy he is, go out on a number of dates with this person and others, then take an honest inventory of how things are going. No need to rush into seeing each other exclusively.

Are you ready?

In preparation of getting your dating muscle in shape, it can be very helpful to think about this new time in your life, attracting the kind of person you’d like to meet, so you don’t recreate the situation you just left. Write down your answers to the following questions:

What do I envision dating to be like and describe the perfect first date? What would I talk about? How do I want to be treated? How will I treat him? What would need to happen to consider a second date? How soon might I get physically intimate and make love? When would I introduce my date to my kids?

Jumping back into the relationship waters and going out on dates will give you an honest perspective of how truly you are over, your ex.

What about the kids?

Talk to your kids about how they’re feeling about the divorce. Seek out professional assistance for them if needed; as kids often hold in what they are truly feeling. Create “play time” to be with your kids. Hug them often and tell them they will always be your priority, you love them and appreciate their different personalities and talents. It’s highly beneficial to not introduce “your friend” to your kids until: After you are very comfortable with your new beau, have been dating for 3-5 months and are now seeing each other exclusively, you both have been honest about how you feel meeting your kids (and his?) and you feel confident he’ll treat your kids well.

Have fun dating. Keep in touch.

Malama Pono,

Cary

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Cary Valentine is the author of the forthcoming book In Love Forever, Relationship Expert & Wedding Officiant Facebook.com/InLoveForeverCaryValentine

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