When you have gone through a divorce and want to get on the dating scene again, you may feel like you’re jumping into the ocean without a life preserver. You’ve just been through a life-changing experience that can undermine the confidence of even the most self-assured people. You can shift your doubt and fear that by working on your self confidence, both before and during the process.
- know why you are dating
- fall in love with yourself
- internalize the Truth that you deserve love
- create a clear description of your ideal partner
- date yourself
- date for the wrong reasons
- get hung up on thinking you won’t get it right the next time around
- think just because you aren’t perfect you don’t deserve love
- take it personally if it doesn’t work out
Be honest with yourself and up front with the people you meet about why you are dating. This is another way of making sure you are ready. You can be ready for different things at different stages after divorce. For example, informal companionship earlier on vs. a long-term serious dating relationship after you have gotten clearer on your long-term relationship goals. Set expectations and communicate boundaries for yourself and those you meet to minimize misunderstanding and disappointment.
Get to know yourself and believe deep down how amazing and lovable you really are. Pay close attention to why you are lovable and own it! No one can love the way you can. No one else has your unique gifts that you can bring to a relationship. Write down in a daily journal at least 3 reasons you are lovable. This can be helpful when you repeat qualities from day to day to reinforce your beliefs. Adding at least one new one each day is also helpful.
Consider the possibility of a universal Truth that everyone deserves love. Yes, even your ex. When you start from a place of inner knowing – beyond intellectual knowledge – that you deserve love, you can increase your confidence and spend less energy on baggage about your ex and your feelings of failure or rejection. Your inner belief system can increase or decrease your confidence.
Brainstorm about the qualities you are looking for and then write a description of your ideal mate. This can include values and personal interests. No one is perfect. Evaluate what your non-negotiables are, and consider what sorts of personal imperfections you can live with compared with the personal qualities that really matter and contribute to a sustainable relationship. Have this vision in mind when you start dating.
Connect with what you love about life and what you enjoy doing. Identify activities you used to do and activities you’ve always wanted to do and start doing them. Do these things even before dating. You can do them on your own, with friends or family, or in a community setting. For example, you can take a class, join a meetup, or other social group such as one affiliated with a church, synagogue or other house of worship.
If you are dating to fill a void, and get a quick fix for feeling rejected, discarded and like a failure after your divorce, you may regret it later. In this case, you may make decisions that are hurtful to yourself or the people you meet. Although you may be eager to prove to yourself that you are desirable and attractive, it’s helpful to do the inner work from within before you seek validation from potential future partners.
If you meet someone and you know they he or she isn’t right for you, don’t settle. Work on having the confidence to go solo until you find a partner who’s right for you. The more you work on yourself and enjoy life based on your true interests, the more confident you will be in finding someone to share these joys with based on your common interests, passions and values, not your common experience of looking for someone.
Just because something happened before doesn’t mean it will automatically happen again. Some of what you experienced in your marriage is probably due to the dynamics between you and your ex. You each brought something to the table and each of your responses were a part of what happened between you. A willingness to learn from your experiences in your marriage to help inform how you would like to show up in a future relationship can help you approach that potential relationship with more confidence. Owning who you are at all stages of personal growth and development can strengthen the foundation for your next relationship.
Your marriage didn’t necessarily fail because of your personal imperfections. You are as worthy of love as anyone else, even if you have personal growth areas to work on. Who you are is truly enough. You can shift your beliefs to know you deserve to be loved by someone who loves you the way you are and is willing to do the work to build and sustain a healthy, loving relationship.
It’s not personal if it doesn’t work out with someone. This is easier said than done, but the perspective can help. Remember that if you show up as the person you think your date wants to be with but it’s not the real you, eventually the real you will surface and it won’t work out later anyway. It’s more important to be who you are than to pretend to be someone you are not. Better to be yourself and know early on if you two are a good fit.
It’s natural to feel unsteady when thinking about dating after divorce. It’s important to do the inner work to know why you are dating, set expectations and boundaries, know and love yourself, and have a clear and realistic vision of what you want in an ideal partner. Shoring up your inner confidence even coming from a time of personal doubt, fear, and rejection can help you sustain your confidence when you step into the dating world again.
You may choose to get help from a professional, such as a therapist or a life coach, to support you in this journey of self-discovery and new possibilities. The tips presented here are not an overnight fix, rather, they are steps you can take in your post-divorce process of regaining your confidence as you reenter the dating scene.