There is no exact time you should start a new relationship especially after a divorce a break-up or being widowed, and certainly not when friends feel you should, or you’re being pressured to start dating again or a new relationship. Our emotions are raw after such events, and each of us has a different time clock with each situation a time of reflection, healing and acceptance of what has happened, so take your time as there is nothing worse than to embark on a new relationship only to find yourself overwhelmed with conflicting emotions due to entering a relationship too soon. Not only do we have a duty of care to ourselves, but also to others, who may become involved with us and become one of the emotionally injured.
The 7 tips below are a good guide but there are always accompanying reasons why "you" might not be ready or totally ready within certain time frames. Let me expand on this - You believed upto your divorce, you were happy, you loved your spouse, you were surprised, shocked they wanted a divorce when you felt you were jogging along nicely. You felt there were no real tell-tale signs (or like so many, ignored, brushed aside differences, changes in your spouses behavour and put it down to 25 years of marriage) In these circumstances YOU the injured party have not had time for your emotions to catch up with what has happened, your spouse has, they have planned and adjusted emotionally, and in their mind separated from you already. This is not you, not only will you have the fall out emotionally from not seeing it coming, but also the hurt of losing someone you still love, not forgetting, that your entire life, current and future will change from what you've known, including financially. This is a situation you need time to process everything, not rush into dating, regardless of the emptiness you will feel, when this happens, the last thing you need is a "rebound relationship" as your feelings for your spouse are probably still very mixed, and as I say, we have to be responsible for others too, and not create further mis-matched relationships.
Equally if you reverse the above scenario, to being aware of your marriage or long term relationship was on the way out a long time ago, but you remained together in an effort to re-ignite your relationship, or sadly as happens these days, you've stayed together under the same roof due to financial needs, and basically have been leading separate lives under the same roof. This situation has allowed both parties to adjust emotionally, sever whatever bond you had naturally and to gradually become single people in every way before the legal process of divorce has taken place. This situation lends itself to being far more flexible as to when you may be ready for a fully committed relationship again. The points below hopefully you can relate to and help you move forward at your own pace.
1. You no longer feel angry or want to air your anger with friends; or even your ex.
2. You understand a break-up/divorce always has two sides, and even if you did not instigate it, you’ve gained insight and realize better now what does and does not make a long term relationship work.
3. You no longer want, think about; or are obsessed with your ex, what they’re doing, who they’re seeing. They no longer take up your waking day, you can’t remember the last time you thought about them.
4. You feel being single is not shameful or disease, in fact you are starting to enjoy your own space and finding out about who YOU really are not as a twosome. You feel confident and want to make choices on your next relationship not based on being alone or you feel a void, but because someone can enhance your life, not complete you.
5. The thought of starting a new relationship makes you smile inside and out, you no longer feel daunted by it, you feel better placed to make the right partner choice, what is and isn’t compatible with you, your values.
6. You’re starting to feel a lot more confident in the way you look, interact and portray yourself to the opposite sex. You’re projecting yourself with self assurance, warmth and an open mind.
7. You’re acting on your OWN feelings, not a date or time when you think you should be ready to start a relationship again.
Remember there is no time frame that exists when anyone should be ready, it depends on how and why the relationship ended, how long that relationship was part of your life, for some it’s weeks, months or sometime years before people reach the stages above. Never let others push you into dating, go with your natural instincts.
Jill Rhodes Harvey Dip.Couns, EQ-i Dip Dating & Relationship Consultant