It may sound negative to talk about dating after divorce – or even divorce – on a Christian dating site, but the reality is that many of us are familiar with the pain of divorce but really want a marriage that “until death do us part”. I drove this road. Married in my mid twenties, I found myself alone in my forties when my husband left me for someone else he got involved with. I then spent a few years as a bachelor before I met and married a charming man who went through his difficult divorce before we met. Here’s what I found helpful to consider regarding post-divorce dating along the way:
1. Remember that divorce can happen to anyone
‘There is no such thing as a 100% divorce-protected marriage, just as no matter how healthy your life habits are, there is no guarantee that you will never get cancer.’
It is incredibly important to understand if your self-esteem is being crippled by a loved and trusted spouse who is abandoning you. This is not God’s judgment on you or marriage. For starters, “every human connection is ultimately transcended by our individual identity as a very beloved child of God,” as a believing divorced woman put it.
It is also worth remembering the conclusion of a renowned investigative journalist who made a documentary on divorce: “People throw away perfectly good marriages all the time, often for selfish reasons that seem very much.”
But I’m really not in a position to judge anyone. It seems to me that anyone who chooses to read this, whatever the past actions, is someone who still values marriage, hopes and believes that a new beginning can be made possible by a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26). Is not this what our God is about?
2. Do the basic emotional work before dating again
Get the investment in the time it takes to start healing so that all the wounds are not so raw that they will infect new relationships. There should also be ‘clear blue water’ between one relationship and another, meaning do not go out until the marriage has ended legally.
In the search for healing use all the resources you find helpful. Books written by people who have been through a similar experience help you understand that you are not alone even in the loneliest period of your life. My favorite book at the time was by Jennifer Crowley Miss being a lady: Surviving a divorce without losing your friends, your faith or your mind. There are workshops and courses for divorce recovery, counseling and treatment. Do what needs to be done.
Do things for yourself as an individual
I have found doing things just for me a useful way to remind myself that I am not a passive victim, but a woman worth spending time with, even if sometimes, it’s just me spending time with.
One girlfriend who looked back on the years after the divorce from her first marriage recalled, “I don’t mind admitting I bought a lot of clothes! I had a style and color consultation, I joined different groups, I went to movies and concerts if I saw anything that interested me. “So life will pass me by and I was not prepared for that to happen!”
In doing so, you are conveying to yourself a message that you are important, that you are worth messing with and recognizing, that it is a healthy way of thinking to start dating again after divorce.
4. Ask yourself some important questions about the future
If some changes in your current life were necessary as part of a regular relationship with someone special, would that be acceptable to you? Would you move apartment? Adjust your lifestyle? Give up or take on a new job? It’s worth trying some of these size ideas and seeing what your sincere responses are.
Do you have children to consider, or can you have someone else’s children? It is essential that they feel loved and devoted to their time, just as you would a spouse. And when the time comes for first dates, you need to feel confident that your partner is stable and reliable enough to meet all the young people.
5. Find your boundaries for dating after divorce
Here are some ‘do’s and don’ts’ for post-divorce dating that have worked for me:
Keep early dates light and cheerful. Talking about your ex is unappealing and indicates that you are still investing too deeply in a previous relationship to engage properly in a new relationship. If and when you get closer, there will come a time when it will feel natural to share more about the past and what you have learned from it.
Do not be tempted to mentally plan your entire future with someone on your first coffee date. If going through a divorce hurts the fact that someone is interested in you may make you damn careful, then take it gently. Being overly eager can be daunting as well as unobtrusive.
Be flexible and open – for example, I heard people say, “I could not go out with a salesman!” Even without looking at their picture or reading their profile – but respect your core values.
6. Remember ‘Kairos Time’ versus ‘Chronos Time’
During my bachelor years it was too easy to wonder if ‘this’ would ever happen. Then I discovered that the New Testament has two words for time: ‘Cairus’ and ‘Chronos’. ‘Chronos’ time is quantitative and linear, while ‘Kyros’ is more qualitative, a sense of something being realized at the right time. It can be translated as ‘God’s timing’.
Because my future husband decided not to go out until his son was more or less older, we did not meet for several years after our divorce. I’m glad I left there. So take action, get out there, and surely in God’s Cairo’s time.
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