What you need to know:
- Tips for dating after a divorce, according to experts
You should wait until the divorce or separation process is finalised
- Once the divorce is final, you will need to work on yourself first
You wanted to live your vows. Till death do you part! You dreamed that you and your spouse would be the ones who found out what forever in marriage means. But things didn't work out. Now you are divorced and wonder if you can ever find love again. Divorce is not the end of the world and you still get your happily-ever-after.
Here are steps to get back on the game:
Is the divorce over?
Divorce is a process that starts way before you go your separate ways. Because of the emotions involved, psychologist consultant Oliver Kibet says that you should wait until the divorce or separation process is finalised. "If you feel there's a chance for reconciliation, then you shouldn't jeopardise it by jumping into the dating scene," he says.
Start working on yourself
Once the divorce is final, you will need to work on yourself first. This is a process that can take time. Endeavor to forgive your ex-spouse and assess what might have gone wrong to improve your chances of success in your next relationship. In any case, your misdeeds could be the reason for divorce. "Don't obsess over whose fault it was. Focus on what you ought to change in your next relationship," says Dr. Chris Hart, a psychologist based in Nairobi and the author of Single & Searching.
How long should you wait?
There is no fixed duration. It will depend on how resilient you are, your support systems, and your capacity and ability to process the emotions and procedures of pre and post-divorce. It might take longer to get ready to date again if there are factors such as children involved or if the just ended marriage was highly tumultuous. "If you were in a relationship where bullying, bickering, and fighting were common, your healing process will take longer to settle," says Psychologist Suzzane Lachmann. If you hop straight into the dating pool, you may find yourself lost in a sea of relief and heartache due to flashes from your just-ended marriage. "You will go through intermittent periods of intense relief and heartache," says Lachman.
One of the best tricks to know if you are ready to date again is by answering a checklist. Psychologist and family therapist Lawrence Kibiru says that your checklist can include the following questions
· Do you constantly think about your ex-spouse?
· Do you still think about contacting your ex-spouse whenever you have a problem?
· Do you still have some of your possessions pending at their place?
· Do you stalk them on social media or physically?
· Do you want to start dating to get over them?
· Are you afraid they might find new love?
If your answer to these questions is yes, then you're not ready to start dating again.
A date's template
This is not the first time you'll be dating. You've played the whole game and lost. You will now need to be very specific and practical about the type of person you want to go out with, their character, and outlook in life. "You probably don't just want someone to have fun with. You want substance," says Kibet. But don't be too stiff either. "Use your dates to know yourself before you can start considering other issues such as remarrying," cautions Kibet. If you have children, don't be in a rush to introduce your dates. They are still processing your divorce. Be reasonable about your past. Don't hide your marital status from a good prospect because the truth will eventually come out.
If you have been married for several years, you may find that dating has evolved. Technology and the internet have changed the way people search and get love. Dating sites and dating apps have become common and convenient ways of meeting new people. Be careful when setting your online profile or when meeting the prospective date. "The net is a fertile ground for genuine people who are looking for love. But it is also a hideout for love scammers and thugs," says Lawrence. Keep your privacy in check. Don't lay out your details for the public to see in the name of dating.
Your new date
When you start dating, the biggest mistake you can make is to turn your new partner into a shoulder to cry on over your failed marriage. Dr. Christie Hartman, a dating expert and the author of Back in the Game says that you must avoid overwhelming your partner with the need for attention and emotional selfishness. "Avoid bringing drama into your new partner's life. Shield them from your former spouse," says Dr. Hartman. Don't start making comparisons between them and your former spouse but be kind to yourself and know which of their traits trigger flashes of your former spouse. Flashes can be detrimental especially if they evoke negative feelings.