When your divorce decree comes through, the idea of dating is daunting. But don’t let that stop you!
Your divorce is a major life event. Depending on your circumstances, when that final divorce decree comes through, you may have many different emotions. You may be thrilled that the long process is over and you’re finally free to move on. You may also be sad that your dream to live happily ever after with your ex didn’t pan out. You may be angry for a number of reasons. Maybe the divorce process didn’t go your way or perhaps you are angry with yourself for letting a good relationship go south; maybe you are still angry at your ex for cheating on you. You may even be afraid of your new life alone and the prospect of asking women out (and you thought you were done with that when you got married!). Finally, you may be ashamed that you are now a divorced man.
Below are tips to navigate the post-divorce turbulent waters. You can find confidence and new love.
1. How Ready Are You?
The biggest mistake that men make after divorce is jumping into the dating scene too quickly. This is a time for you to get in touch with your feelings; admittedly something we men generally don’t do well. This is a time to heal and regroup, to look within to heal your battle wounds from the divorce. The worst thing you can do is quickly get into a rebound relationship. From a practical viewpoint, women want to have fun with you. But if all you can talk about is how angry you are at your ex or how sad you are that your relationship is over, you won’t be fun to be around. Most importantly, you don’t want to make the same mistakes from your marriage in your next relationship.
Find support for your healing process. Join a men’s group, go to therapy or talk to friends who are willing to lend an ear. Just make sure you give yourself the time to get in touch with and resolve your anger, grief, and shame. It is typical to feel like the anger or sadness have subsided, and then to have them resurface again. Don’t worry! Although you feel like you have slipped backwards, you really have made progress.
Finally, this is the time for forgiveness. While a door has closed, a new one has opened. Work with a coach, counselor or clergyman on accepting what has happened and moving on. To do this, you must forgive yourself for whatever you feel you did wrong or could have done better. You will also be better off if you can forgive your ex. This doesn’t condone her actions; rather it acknowledges that she is human and could have done better or done something different. Forgiveness is not about who was right or wrong, it’s about you finding a space of healing and peace of mind. These are all great traits to bring into your next relationship.
2. Is Your Life Purpose And Life Vision Clear?
We men often need a purpose greater than a relationship to keep us happily moving forward. Since your divorce has upset the apple cart, this is an ideal time to think about your life purpose and your life vision. On the one hand, you may not be able to make major logistical changes since you may have alimony and child support to pay, along with partial custody of your children.
On the other hand, you are back on your own. You made be able to make small, tangible changes in your life. Get in touch with what you really want to do and how you want to live your life. Your life purpose is what really makes you get out of bed in the morning. Your life vision is what you want to have around you, and being confident in that is attractive to other people.
While you may not be able to make major life changes at this point in your life, you can still start moving in that direction. For example, you might start working on a new business plan or gain skills need in your new business or career. These small steps will invigorate you. You’ll be excited about building that dream, and, as such, will be have exciting things to talk about with your new dates.
3. Have You Learned From Your Past Relationship Mistakes?
After my divorce, the last thing I wanted was to repeat my mistakes again in my next relationship. In any failed relationship, both people are responsible for its demise. It is very easy to blame the other person and attribute the failure to her and her actions. If, however, you do not look at yourself and your behavior and what part they played in the failure of the relationship, you are doomed to repeat those mistakes in your next relationship.
You must be brutally honest with yourself. Ask yourself “What did I do wrong, and where can I improve?” Are there skills that you need to develop or hone? For example, I recognized that I needed to learn to (1) listen better, (2) apologize when wrong and (3) validate my spouse’s feelings. These are three great places to start.
Examine all of your key relationships (including family) for the past 20 or 30 years to determine what patterns show up. Since you are the common element in all those relationships, you are likely to garner some enlightening information about yourself. (I know it is hard to believe, but some of the things your ex said about you could have been true). Be proactive: ask your family and friends to provide you with feedback about your behavior in relationships. It’s difficult to look at ourselves and admit that we made mistakes or can improve in certain aspects of our life, but as President Garfield said: “The truth shall set you free but first it makes you miserable.”