How to start your first relationship after divorce
Feeling bruised and battered after a marriage break up, and wondering whether you’ll ever love again? Here’s how to start your first relationship after divorce.
As much as we may enter marriage believing in happily ever after or death do us part, it doesn’t always work out that way. In 2017, 101,669 of opposite-sex couples in England and Wales divorced, and 338 same-sex couples.
So that means around 204,014 people re-enter the singles market every year. And of those that venture back into marriage again with a new partner, around 67% will end up divorcing for a second time.
But now we’ve shared that depressing statistic, we can offer up some hope and optimism: just because your first marriage didn’t work out doesn’t mean you can’t find love again. And nor does it mean any future relationship or marriage won’t be a success.
You just need to make sure you heal from your first broken marriage, learn any important lessons and find the right person next time around. Easy, right?
How to make sure your first relationship after divorce is a good one
The good news is that the first relationship after a divorce can work. And it can even turn out to be the relationship you were always looking for. (To put a more positive spin on the statistic we just shared, 33% of second marriages do go the distance.)
So how can you make sure you that your first (and any more) relationships after divorce are good? The first piece of advice for divorce is to wait for the right time. But what is the ‘right’ time?
The best time to start a new relationship after divorce is when you’re emotionally ready for it. For some people, it can take several months to feel ready for new relationship, while for others this process can take years.
Six steps to dating after divorce
To help you identify when the right time might be, and how to get to that point, here are the six steps to dating after divorce from Marriage.com.
1) Don’t rush into a new relationship
It’s important to let the dust settle on your previous relationship, and any emotional wounds heal before you start looking for love again.
If you rush into a new relationship you can risk simply trying to replace the person you left or lost, or the feeling of being in love – and end up with someone totally unsuitable. Or you can find that you’ve transferred all the negativity and resentment, and any bad habits of your old relationship to your new one.
In order to give any fresh relationship a real shot of working, you need a healthy pause. An opportunity to reflect and heal. So when you are ready for love, you’re looking for the right person for the right reason, without any heavy baggage dragging behind you.
2) Work on yourself
Whatever the reason for the end of your marriage, it’s important that you reflect on what happened. This is your chance to make a fresh start, and choose to leave behind any patterns or behaviours that are unhelpful or just make you or other people unhappy.
It also ensures you don’t automatically search out the same type of partner, or repeat past mistakes in a fresh relationship.
3) Regain your faith in love
It’s easy to be bitter when we step away from the wreckage of a marriage. We may resolve never to fall in love or marry again. Or we can seek to heal ourselves with short, meaningless encounters that only serve to confirm our lack of faith in genuine relationships.
But we need to remember that it’s not love that failed; but that relationship just didn’t work. And it doesn’t mean that, with time, healing and work, we can’t fall in love again, and nurture a lasting, healthy relationship.
So let go of any resentment and bitterness and re-find your faith in love before you start meeting new people.
4) Exorcise your ex from your life
Before you start a new relationship, make sure you remove anything that reminds you of your former partner from your life. This includes physical items from your home, but also shared habits and routines.
For example, if you used to have coffee in the same cafe every Saturday, either find a new coffee shop, or change the day, time or table to create a new routine that you can claim just for you.
At first it can be hard to erase memories, especially if they are good memories, but you can’t start a new relationship with the ghost of your ex haunting you.
5) Be open to newness
When a relationship comes to an end, we can find ourselves preoccupied with looking back. Maybe we’re reminiscing about the good early days, or perhaps wondering what we could have done differently to change the outcome.
But too much introspection and mulling over the past stops us from making steps forward into a brighter, more positive future.
So instead of rehashing old times or mourning what you have lost, start building a fresh, new life. You can do this by simple acts like changing your haircut, buying a new wardrobe, going to new places, or trying a different hobby. This is your chance to start with a blank state and reinvent yourself – so have fun!
6) Be open to new people
When you are finally ready to date again, open up your mind and life to opportunities and people. Try dating sites and apps, join new clubs and activities, say yes to invitations and talk to people you meet out and about. You can even ask your friends to introduce you to someone they think may be a good match.
You never know where or when your next partner will walk into your life, and the more you open your life to new experiences and people, the higher the likelihood of you meeting someone interesting and wonderful, who restores your faith in love.
How to build healthy relationships after divorce
So, you’re ready to find love again after divorce. How can you make sure your future relationships are drama free?
Oprahmag.com shares this list of recommendations on what you should and shouldn’t do to build a healthy relationship after divorce:
- Don’t jump into the arms of the first comer – this isn’t the best way to start a new relationship. Be strong and pay attention to the people around you. With patience and clarity you may see a better option.
- Don’t moan about your ex – your new partner doesn’t want to hear about your ex every time you meet. They don’t want to hear how amazing they are, and they certainly don’t want to listen to an endless list of their flaws. Save your focus and conversation for the person in front of you, not the one behind you.
- Don’t stalk your ex – stay off their social media profiles, and definitely don’t spy on their new partners! As tempting as this can be, it’s emotionally draining and likely to lead to feelings of jealousy and insecurity. You’re also more likely to find yourself comparing your very human new partner with an idealised, carefully curated social media image of your ex and their new partner.
- Love yourself and your life – love attracts love, and if you don’t appreciate yourself and build a life you love, you’re not likely to meet or attract someone who is emotionally healthy and happy. If you can’t see why someone should love you, or how to attract women, how will they be able to see it?
- Take it slowly – if you’re used to spending all your time with someone at weekends it’s easy to rush your new relationship to fill that hole. But if you do you could scare off your new partner. Or you’ll get serious too quickly, and find your life entwined with someone you don’t really get on with. So take it easy, and don’t expect your new partner to spend all their time with you.
- Don’t get too serious too quickly – by the same token, don’t seek to move your relationship forward too fast. Let milestones like moving in together and meeting children happen naturally. If this relationship is gong to last, you have all the time in the world to get serious. Take it one day at a time and enjoy those precious, romantic early days and weeks of a new relationship without the pressure of wondering where it’s going.
Open your heart to love when you’re ready
In the first awful days and weeks after a relationship ends it’s easy to think you’ll never love or be loved again. That you’ll never want or fancy anyone else.
But time heals, and when you’re ready, if you want to, you’ll meet someone new. And love will come with all the wonderful feelings and excitement you’ve experienced in the past – but this time all the sweeter for the experience you have, and the gratitude for being given another chance.
So, when you are ready for love, please do open your heart. And keep your eye out for the next Mr or Mrs Right.
And finally, if you’re looking for reassurance that you CAN find love again after divorce, the photo in this article is of Talented Ladies Club founder Hannah Martin’s very happy second wedding!
Love more relationship advice?
You can read more tips on relationships and divorce in these articles: