Updated: Nov 6, 2020
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Madeline is a single woman who recently divorced. Even though she has decided to wait a few years until her daughter is grown to reenter the dating scene, she’s confused about how to proceed. “When Emilio is out of the house I want to date, but I don’t know how.”
Samantha has been divorced for only a year, but would like to start dating again even though her two boys are still in elementary school. Like Madeline, she needs some advice but is concerned about how she can make the transition into dating easy on her children.
John is separated from his wife. He’d like to date again, and some of his friends say he should start looking for a woman now — after all, he’s getting divorced soon. But John knows better because he’s still married, and dating now would go against God’s desires.
Madeline's, Samantha’s and John’s concerns are common, because according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 19.3 million Americans get divorced each year, and many of them date and eventually remarry.
Perhaps you share their concerns, as you’re also wondering how you can reenter the dating world after divorce- Here are four practical ideas.
Heal First, Date Later
Divorce is the death of the dreams you had when you committed yourself “for better or for worse.” As a woman, you can’t simply separate from your spouse one day and hit the dating field the next. And as with any loss, big or small, time is needed to grieve and to reassess who you are, where you’ve been and where you to go. Healing is also necessary. If you start dating prematurely, you could be hurting — rather than honoring — those you date.
To begin healing, you’ll want to seek counsel who are willing to walk through the grief process with you. This may mean seeking out your rabbi / pastor for support, joining a Divorce Recovery group or visiting counselor.
Guard Your Sexual Integrity
Don’t wait to put some practical boundaries in place, such as not staying at your date’s home overnight. You can also establish an accountability group made up of those who know and love you. That way, when you feel tempted, you can call on them for support. It is easy for us to fall into bed with someone who is directing their attention and affection. We long to be wanted again and the feeling of worth is ever present. Wait... is all I can say til you ready.
Be aware, if a date pressures you, don’t compromise. Instead, run the other direction and resolve to date only who share your convictions.
Think Before Involving Your Kids
For the single parent, this means that you will have to do some “guarding” for your children by not involving them with your suitors too soon in a relationship. Some people hold off until engagement before introducing their significant other to their kids. (Granted, this can create other complications because you want to know how your children will respond to a potential mate prior to engagement.)
If you do choose to involved your children, I suggest meeting your dates on neutral ground, such as at a shul /church picnic or at movie theatre with friends. Never introduce your date as his girlfriend, but a friend. This spares his children from the complicated emotions that will inevitably come with adjusting to a new stepparent prematurely.
Stick With Your Plan
After experiencing the comforts of marriage, it can be tempting to settle for less than what's best. You may believe the lie that you’ll never find a man or woman, that you’ll have to accept whoever comes along. One way to avoid the temptation of settling is to know what’s acceptable and what’s not, before you start looking for love.
This is where slowing down before getting into a serious relationship helps. Not only does going slow give you time to heal, but it also helps you better assess those you date. If you have taken the time to understand yourself and the dynamics that contributed to your divorce, you are more likely to make a godly choice in choosing the second time.
If you’re contemplating dating someone new, take your time in getting to know them, and if they fall short in one of your major criteria such as faith, children or sex before marriage, make the wise choice early on by saying no to the relationship. Remember, too, that navigating the dating jungle is not easy.