You were married for many years and suddenly you find yourself divorced or widowed. This is not how you had pictured your life turning out. You are left to pick up the pieces of broken dreams and start life over as a single person. Where do you go from here?
The first step is to give yourself some time to heal your emotional wounds. Whether you are divorced or widowed, you need to take time to heal and rediscover who you are. How long will the healing take? That depends on whether you are divorced or widowed. As a general rule, it usually takes one to three years for divorcees and three to five years for widows/widowers. Each situation will be different depending on circumstances. It may take more time, or it may take less time. The key is to understand that you are evolving as a person.
When do you make the decision to date again? That is different for everyone because every situation is different. Be emotionally ready to date. As a general rule, don’t date if you are still angry over a divorce. Don’t date if you are still emotionally attached to your deceased spouse. It won’t be a fun date for either of you. There may be a time when you have friends and family that push you back into the dating world before you are ready. They mean well but generally don’t understand the emotions you are dealing with. Don’t start to date until you feel you are ready.
Are you someone that you would want to date? We always think about the characteristics of the person we want in our lives and the things we won’t accept. But, when was the last time you thought about you and what you have to offer as a mate? Give it some thought. If you struggle with this, ask your family and friends for their honest opinion. If there are things that you are not happy with in your life, now is the time to work on those things, whatever they might be.
Dating has changed in the last 20, 30 or even 40 years. For most, you were asked out on a date either in person or by phone. Today, it will more than likely be by e-mail or text. Internet dating is relatively new in the last 15 years. There can be quite a learning curve for some that choose to date this way. Some of the social etiquette has also changed. It is more and more common for a woman to ask a man out. Most men have lost the art of being a gentleman i.e., opening doors, standing when a woman enters the room, seating the woman at the dinner table first, etc. It may take some time to understand some of these changes and to get used to them. Take your time and be cautious.
Finally, when you do start to date, don’t get too serious too quickly. Learn to have fun dating. If you have ultimately decided that you want to be in a long-term relationship again, then take your time to find the right one. This means you will probably date a lot and that is okay. Make dating fun. Go out with the mindset that you are going to learn something new about someone today. You may even learn something new about yourself. Dating is like building muscle, the more you work at it, the easier it becomes. If you have questions or concerns, talk to your friends that have been dating a while or seek out a good dating coach. They can give you insight to dating that will help you move forward in your search.
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About the author.
Over the past 30 years, Rick Soetebier has been a student of self and relationship improvement. He has become and astute observer of people and relationship issues. Over time and through a relationship and marriage that ended after 25 years, Rick started to develop some of the fundamental principles that are found in his book, Dating Backward: A practical guide to dating and finding your soul mate. You can benefit through his observations, education, research and personal experience by letting him help you make better relationship decisions.