When Not to Date After Divorce

By: Jeremiah Kiehl

Divorce can hit you with a tidal wave of emotions and tear a hole in not only your heart, but your self esteem and confidence as well. It leaves you with overwhelming feelings of doubt, fear, and loneliness and can cause us to act in ways that are normally completely foreign to our character, and understandably so. When you are prepared to spend the rest of your life with someone you give them not only your heart, but your time, attention, and body. You become comfortable in your rituals regardless of how healthy or unconventional they might be. Then all of a sudden you wake up and your world has been devastated. You’re alone, afraid, and asking yourself questions that you haven’t even considered in years. Questions that in a emotionally sober state you already know the answers to, but in the aftermath of having your life flipped upside down these questions become all too real and frightening. 

Am I going to be alone forever? Does anyone want me? Will I ever have a family? Will I ever find somebody to help me with my family? Whatever the particular questions are we often rush to answer them with the first person who feigns interest in us, and let’s be perfectly honest, often its easier to get over somebody with somebody else. But therein lies the problem. In our desire to just feel anything we often drag somebody else into our emotional rollercoaster, which is not fair to them, and we further confuse ourselves by mixing one cup of unresolved pain with another cup of whatever is on the shelf in front of us.  

Now listen, if you simply need a warm body to help you recover, then do you. I don’t judge anyone, but just be honest with that warm body. Lay out your situation, let them know you are working through turmoil and that you aren’t there for a real relationship. But what none of us should do is try and settle down with the rebound. I don’t want to say that it never works, but usually it never works and here is why. You are both unconsciously and often unintentionally using each other and that can only last for so long. You need comfort, somebody to make you feel wanted and desired, but your heart can’t be ready for more because it is still broken, and in that anger and sadness we often confuse attention for true feelings. That other person may also be using you, sometimes for physical needs and sometimes for what they think is love. Newly divorced people can be the easiest to fall in love with because we are so ready to be treated well that we give way to much way too fast. That is totally unfair to the new person we are giving it to, because at the same time we are also holding back the most important thing, our truth and broken heart. They aren’t getting to know you, they are getting to know a broken vulnerable version of you.  

So how and when do we start dating again? I don’t have the perfect answer to that, but I do believe that it is absolutely crucial to take some time and get to know yourself again first. Don’t hop onto a dating website and try to replace your last with the next. Surround yourself with a uplifting support group of friends and family and fall back in love with you. Pick up some hobbies, travel, read, whatever you need to do to pass the time; however, don’t ignore your scars or, even worse, bandaid them with somebody else. Eventually that bandaid is gonna tear off and there they will be again, those deep unresolved wounds that you still haven’t addressed; however, time does fix all. With a lot of crying, self-discovery, and possibly counseling you will slowly start to rise from the ashes a better, stronger, more self-reliant person who is truly ready to move on and start again.  

Then when you are finally ready, let it happen organically.  Instead of being consumed by looking, simply live your life and at some point someone will come into it and totally take you by surprise.  But until you're strong enough to honestly forgive and then love yourself again, nobody else can truly love you back, and if nobody does come along who rocks your world then it is better to be alone because you have already been with the alternative.  

Jeremiah is a broker and founder of OutFitnw, a site dedicated to fatherhood, fitness, fashion, and outdoor fun. He is a single dad of 4 awesome kids who loves sports, travelling, and writing. You can catch him on his site, or instagram.