Divorce is one of the most stressful things that can happen to a person. Your life is thrown upside down, and thinking about dating is often off the table. However, divorce doesn’t mean that you can’t be happy with another person again.

Getting divorced often helps the person figure out what they really want from a relationship. It can often help you ‘do better’ with a new partner. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to rush into new relationships – take your time. And, when you’re ready, take a look at these helpful tips on dating after divorce.

Date Only for the Right Reasons

Are you sure you’re not looking for someone because of feeling lonely, angry, or hurt? Or maybe you’re not over your ex and want to silence the feelings? This often means you’re not ready for starting dating again – otherwise, you might get hurt even more. Take some time to heal and process your feelings. It may be useful to find a good therapist who’ll help you work some things through and make the next relationship better.

And if you want to start dating more than need it and are ready to experience all the emotions involved – that’s your green light.

Forget About ‘Your Type’

People change, and so do their tastes – in food, style, or dates. You’re not the person you were in your 20s. If there’s an image of an ideal person you established a long time ago – it’s high time to get rid of it. Divorce gives you the perfect excuse for this.

Figure out what is truly important for you in the other person. Know your priorities and dealbreakers. Look for the same core values as you have – but let your ‘ideal type’ evolve. Maybe you’re looking for independence and confidence in women – why not try to meet cougars then? Or if you’re looking for a person you can trust – maybe you should agree to a date with the friend who’s been interested in you since always? Don’t be afraid to try something new.

Be Honest

About your past, about your expectations, about your personal life. Don’t lie in your online profile or in-person – eventually, the truth will come out, and you’ll have to deal with it. If you want to find someone who shares your values and likes you for who you are – show them the truth.

If you got kids – write it in your account. It’s better to know the person is not prepared for children before you get emotionally attached. If you don’t want to mix finances with a partner, and possibly jeopardize your future, talk about it clearly and openly. Issues like finances, sex, kids, religion, and fertility can be dealbreakers, so make sure to discuss them when starting a new relationship.

This also means treating your new partner honestly. Don’t compare them to your ex – it’s a whole different person. Don’t try to make this person happy by doing something you don’t want. If the person wants the relationship to work out – they’ll try to do their best. Trust them.

Take It Slow

You don’t have to rush into intense one-on-ones right from the start. Talk on the phone, go on different dates, try new activities. Use this as an opportunity to see the other person in different lights. Get to know each other’s friends, so you won’t be alone at first. Consider every step as key.

And take your time with sex. Good sex often requires knowing your partner and feeling safe – and you deserve it. Asking someone to wait will also show their priorities and inner motives, and this way, you don’t get hurt.

Respect Your Feelings

Your feelings may bubble up, especially in the moments when you don’t expect them to. No matter how you feel when dating – happy, nervous, guilty – it’s normal. You’ve been in a complicated situation; you may still need to process it emotionally. Allow yourself to experience a wide range of emotions.

Loving yourself is the first step to finding a trustworthy partner. Be patient and compassionate with yourself, take all the time you need to heal. And don’t mute your wants and needs – you deserve to be happy.

Trust Yourself

Getting divorced is never easy, and dating after it can be challenging. However, remember that you’re the person responsible for your own happiness. Don’t push yourself into dating if you don’t feel like it, don’t lie to your possible partner nor to yourself, take care of your mind and body, and don’t be afraid to try something new or different. And no matter what happens, trust yourself.

If you have a bad feeling about something, end the date early and don’t hesitate to move on. Don’t ignore the red flags – and if the person blames everything on their ex, run. On the other hand, if you feel that your date has potential, don’t be shy and say that you’d like to see them again. And always – always! – make sure that you feel happy with any decision you make.

(Beata Hardzei)