Dating After Divorce

How do you know if you are ready to begin dating after divorce?

Are you single? If your divorce is not final, you are still married. A good way to look at it is: The day before you are married, what are you? Single. The day before you are divorced, what are you? Married. It is wise to finalize your divorce from your former spouse before starting a new relationship.

Is it possible to restore the marriage? In order for the marriage to be restored, all third parties have to be removed from the situation. If you and your spouse have divorced and neither of you has remarried, there is still opportunity to restore the marriage. In 1 Corinthians 7:10 Paul addresses the idea of remarriage with respect to two Christians who have divorced each other. He states they need to remain single or be reconciled to each other.

Are you still living in the past or are you living in the present? If you are still entertaining thoughts like “what if” and “if I had only” maybe we could go back to the way things were, you are not living in the present. If you find you are constantly thinking about and talking about what was and could have been instead of thinking about what can be, you are probably not ready for dating after divorce.

I am sure you are familiar with a scene in a movie or show, or even witnessed it with someone you know where, on a date, someone rambles on and on about their ex. If that is you, you are not ready for a new relationship. You need to take more time for divorce healing and grieve the loss of your previous marriage.

Are your up more than you are down? The beginning stages of divorce recovery are often marked with periods of depression (not to be confused with sustained clinical depression for which you should seek professional counselling ). When periods of depression have become much less frequent, you may be ready to move on. Some indicators of this may be – you no longer cry all the time, you get up every day, get dressed and go about life as normal, you interact with others as you would normally have done prior to the marriage breakdown and, you may even catch yourself humming or whistling a tune.

Are you looking for someone to save you? If you are looking for someone to come in and rescue you from your circumstances that have been created by your divorce instead of looking for someone to be in a healthy relationship with, you may not be ready to date after divorce. Expecting someone to step into your life and clean up the mess that has been created by your divorce is unrealistic, not to mention unfair.

No one but God can save you. If you are look anywhere other than to God to save you and make you whole, you look in vain (Psalm 73:26; Isaiah 12:2).

Are you okay alone? If you are able to be alone and not lonely, you are more likely to be ready for a mutually beneficial healthy relationship instead of being dependent on your partner for your happiness. Even when you are alone, you are never truly alone. God is always with you. In fact, he promises to never leave you. (Hebrews 13:5)

If you begin dating after divorce simply to fight off loneliness, you may be tempted to settle for whoever you can find rather than who God has chosen for you.

Are you secure in your faith? Are you trusting God to work all things for good (Romans 8:28)? Are you seeking God in prayer and waiting on him for guidance? Is your relationship with God your number one priority? If it is, everything else will fall into place. Seek God first – He knows what you need and will provide it for you – including a new relationship. (Matthew 6:33)

Can you handle difficulties? Divorce can be so traumatic that in the beginning stages of divorce recovery, any issue, small or large can provoke exaggerated anger or despair. Emotions tend to be out of balance and something small like not being able to find your keys can bring a fit of rage or bring you to tears.

Are you able to contribute to a new relationship? Relationships are about give and take. If you are still so empty, hurt and needy that you are only able to take, you are not ready for dating after divorce. Sometimes the demands of simply surviving divorce and raising your children are so great that you may have little, if anything, to give to a new relationship.

Ask yourself “Do I have a new perspective on my situation? Am I am able to be thankful for the hard times?” Can you see how God was with you through it all? Divorce is painful but God can work in your heart and life even in the midst of it. If you are still hanging on to anger, bitterness and unforgiveness, you will contaminate any new relationship you enter into. Take as much time as you need for divorce healing before you begin dating after divorce. It will save you a lot of heart ache in the end.

Have you learned anything from your previous marriage? Before moving forward, look back at your actions, behaviors and attitudes you had in your previous marriage that contributed to its difficulties. Spend time in God's Word and renew your mind (Romans 12:2) with his truth so you are less likely to repeat those mistakes. For example, if your attitude in your marriage was that your spouse's sole purpose in life was to make you happy and to serve your needs, you can approach your future relationship with the truth that God wants us to "serve one another in love" (Galatians 5:13) not "be served".

If you have determined you are ready to begin dating after divorce, what can you do to establish a successful relationship?

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