Getting back into dating after a divorce or a breakup is never easy. It can be nerve wracking to put yourself out there again as all sorts of doubts and insecurity start to creep up. What’s important to know is that you’re not alone – there have been plenty of people who had the same fears as you and still were able to mend their broken hearts and fall in love again.
One thing that’ll give you an advantage in the dating world. Soaking up wisdom from relationship and dating experts who’ve been in your shoes before. We’ve shared the best tips from experts that will hopefully help you get back in the dating game.
When to start dating again
“After my second husband left me, I was devastated. I always wondered when I’d be ready to date again. The answer: When I had the ability to handle a full-time job and didn’t wake up crying anymore,” dating and relationship coach Dawn Ziegerer said.
“For that first year after he left, I was so frazzled because he left me (on purpose) the day I left my job. And then I lost my house since I could no longer pay the mortgage,” she said. “It felt like the carpet had been ripped out from under me and it took some time before I could handle working full time. I had to get my bearings, find a new place to live, get rid of most of my stuff, and find a part-time job.”
Looking back, she says all of those things were transitions to help her get settled before she was ready to find love again.
“Feelings of massive sadness and grief are indications you’re not ready yet. Avoid looking for a person to ‘solve’ your grief.’ It won’t work and will attract the wrong type of partner,” she said. “Your life does not have to be perfect, but you need to feel like you are on decent footing again.”
An inspiring tale of dating success
After going through a breakup, Mark Joseph, founder of Parental Queries, remembered how lost and confused he felt. He went on to date many different people and finally found the love of his life, who is his wife now.
“What helped me the most when it came to dating again after a breakup was realizing that I didn’t have to do things the way I did before. I could be more open-minded and try new things,” he said. “I realized I couldn’t live my life in fear. I had to take the risk and trust that things would be different this time. I realized that if I never took any risks, I would never find happiness again. So, I decided to take some risks, and it paid off.”
That led him to go on a date with someone he had been friends with for a while.
“We had always gotten along well, but I never thought of her romantically,” he said. “But we went on a date, and it was great. We ended up dating for a year and then got married. So, taking risks did pay off.”
Embrace the unexpected in your search for love
“Keep an open mind. You never know who you’re going to meet and when you’re going to meet them,” Chloe Ballatore, relationship and communication expert, said. “You may have already met your beloved and written them off! That’s why it’s so important to stay open. Humans are notoriously bad at predicting what will make them happy.”
Ballatore shared her own story as an example.
“When I was 29, I started a new job. After a couple weeks, I told one of my friends: no cute guys here. Six months later, I was dating a colleague who later became my husband! He wasn’t anything like the man I thought I wanted to marry. But my experience of being with him, how he made me feel, who he was as a person, made me fall in love with him.”
Ballatore said she has clients who have shared a similar experience. They met someone on a dating app and though they liked the guy personally, didn’t feel chemistry and thought it would go nowhere.
“But they kept an open mind and lo and behold, found out over time that they did have chemistry and wound up falling in love,” she said. “Expect the unexpected.”
The power of honesty and patience
“My best advice is to take all the time you need before jumping into the next relationship,” Nina Nguyen, sex educator, LGBTQ+ expert, and racial/social/gender justice educator, said. “Having been in various long-term polygamous relationships over the years, after the last breakup I chose to completely abandon the dating scene for almost a year.”
She spent her time traveling, meeting new people, and discovering herself.
“Only with that much time for self-reflection was I able to finally come to terms with my own self and understand what I wanted from my next partner – to accept polyamory,” she said. “As this was a major issue in my past relationships, I discovered that this was the root cause of many breakups, and I was too young to realize that then. Not everyone is cut out to be in monogamous or traditional relationships, and it took a lot of pondering for me to finally come to that realization.”
So, when Nguyen got back into dating, she was upfront in all her dating profiles and to the new people that she would meet about the type of partner she was looking for.
“I found that being honest and direct with what you want out of a relationship is the best way to avoid a potential disaster in the future,” she said. “Being direct about my preferences also helped weed out all those people who are on the fence about it or that would pretend to be ‘OK’ with polyamory with hopes of convincing you otherwise in the future. That is, only people that legitimately shared my same view on dating ended up matching with me, favoring quality over quantity.”
She admits it took longer to find a suitable partner this way, but now she’s “happier than ever having found long-term partners that I love very much!”
Dating success through personal growth
“I was married and then I got divorced. After a few months, I felt ready to start dating again, but I wasn’t,” Elliot Katz, dating coach and author of Being Strong Man A Woman Wants: Timeless wisdom on being a man, said. “The woman was a librarian. She asked me what books I was reading. I told her I was reading legal books about divorce and that got me talking about the divorce. Quite a turn-off.”
Katz said he realized he had to first take the time to learn what he needed to learn about being a man in a relationship and how I needed to change and grow.
“This meant moving beyond blaming my ex. I realized that if I didn’t go through this learning and growth, my next relationship would probably be a repeat of the one that just ended.
As a result, he learned to never badmouth his ex.
“Nobody wants to hear it and if I did badmouth her, it meant I wasn’t ready for a new relationship. Often a woman would ask me, ‘Why are you divorced?’ I took responsibility. I told them that I realized I had a lot to learn about being a man in a relationship. Women liked hearing that. In fact, I told them that I learned so much that I wrote a book about it, and I’ll give them a copy. In other words, I’m an open book.”