Dating After A Divorce
When a marriage ends.. what's next? When can you start dating? How do you get over the anxiety, the nerves? What will my in-laws say? What about the kids? Will it be okay? What if its the same? These are some of the questions that might be going through your mind after going through a Divorce and thinking about meeting someone new.
Let's face it, divorce or not; dating can be both exciting and frightening all at the same time. Thanks to our two listeners who wrote in and asked us to talk about:
When is the best time to date after a marriage ends?
Why is there a high rate of divorce among millennials?
We wanted to do this topic justice, so we thought long and hard and brought in the big guns! This week we had the pleasure of being joined but Hannah Pillow of The Refreshingly Human podcast! If you haven't listened to our latest episode, have a listen here.
With what appears to be a high divorce rate in today’s culture and society, it’s become the norm to have been through this or at least know someone who has. Hannah talks about her journey and what she went through when her 7 year marriage came to an end. It’s interesting to hear how she knew it wasn’t working from the beginning – this is one of those perspectives that people don’t tend to understand as they ask “so why did you get married?” or “why did you stay as long as you did?”, so we delve into the cultural expectations of women, the sense that you will be ‘failing’ if you give up on your marriage, and that your family and in-law’s involvement in the marriage and divorce.
Bearing all the above in mind, it is easy to see how beginning to date again could be the last thing on your mind because of all the emotions you would have just gone through.
There’s also that very natural fear that if you give up on this one then you will never meet someone who wants to date you, let alone spend their life with you. In the middle of all those raw emotions, you may actually sit there and feel like you have to start from scratch, but when you really look at it, you’re starting from experience. Provided you have done the necessary healing, then your approach to dating is probably very different than before you were married. You’d have a much clearer vision of the partner you want, the relationship dynamic that works for you, and exactly what you intend to bring to the table – this is dating with purpose.
It’s clear that love isn’t enough to make a relationship work, there’s a plethora of aspects that make you compatible with another person. But in the last couple of generations, we’ve idolised the idea of falling in love and living happily ever after. This may also be owed to the many millennials who grew up in single parent households. So much so that you would be glad to know that the divorce rate among millennials has actually fallen by 24% (Well in America at least) But also in varying percentages around the world! It’s very few people who step into a marriage with the intent to divorce, so if you’ve gone into it in good faith and it comes to an end – this can be an unpleasant new realm for you. We’d always encourage you to seek counselling. Talking to someone always helps to unpack those repressed feelings and address them head on. We also recommend getting guidance from some great self-help books, podcasts, family and friends can be a good support network! The main key point is that you are not alone. You’re always better off learning about your situation and how other people have dealt with it, then adding in your own instincts and personal preferences.
Everyone has a vision for what they want their life to look like and they make their decisions based on that vision, so when it turns out that your vision may have been wrong or wasn’t meant to last forever, then this is an understandable shock to the system. There can even be a loss of your sense of identity as you realise you have to reformulate this for your future self. Thankfully, the one this we do know is that second chances at love do exist. Sometimes you can learn that ‘soul mates’ can be for just the season – they may have been perfect for you when you were choosing a partner the first time around, but with all your growth and self-discovery, they won’t be suited to your future. When you meet that person who is right for you, you’ll realise that they wouldn’t have been suited to the past you! Life can show you that everyone has a reason and a season, this season may last days, months, years or a lifetime – but the real trouble comes when you try to hold on to someone whose season has ended
On that note; we share some helpful steps to take:
Love and respect yourself and the others you will date
After a Divorce, you may be going through past trauma where a partner made you feel worthless and unloved. Use this time to re-discover your worth, love yourself and respect your heart and body. We find positive affirmations everyday will go a long way
Have fun and don't take it all too seriously
Literally just that! Enjoy dating, the excitement of meeting new people and learning something new about the outside world and about you!
Focus on your date not your past partner
As a divorced individual, especially if the breakup is recent or was quite painful, you might inadvertently go into song and dance about your ex-partner either how bad he treated you or how horrible the whole ordeal was. Your date might be happy to lend a listening ear but try not to turn them into an agony aunt. Focus on them too. Make them feel comfortable and focus on the present more than the past.
Sometimes we tend to doubt if people will like the real us. So we put up this persona of what we think people will like. Most feedback we have received when we have shamefully not been ourselves on a date, in an interview or during a Speech has been; "you didn't sound genuine", "you seemed off", "you were trying too hard" or "it seemed like you were mocking me". The best thing you can do, is for you to just be yourself. It's the sure way for someone to fall in love with the real you and love you for YOU.
You might want a bit more help and guidance, we have got you! Here are two books we have found most helpful:
Single, Married, Separated and life after Divorce by Myles Munro - Get it here
A Woman’s Guide to Divorce by Phyllida Wilson & Maxine Pillinger - Get it here
About our Guest; Hannah Pillow
Hannah is the host of Refreshingly Human. Refreshingly Human is a podcast that brings refreshing conversations with a wide range of people across the world. Hannah believes that when we don’t see the colour of someone’s skin or the many assumptions that we label people with, we can actually connect with their stories more than we realise.
Hannah has spent a large part of her life living amongst a wide range of cultures. She was married into a Pakistani family, grew up in a South African Indian family, lived in Istanbul, Turkey for two years and is now married into a British family and living in the UK.
Having not just travelled, but immersed herself in other cultures, she has learned that we are all a lot more similar than we realise! Which is why she started this podcast. She would love it if we all opened our eyes to how similar we all are while appreciation the things that make us unique.