You know what would be helpful? A litmus test for post-divorce dating. Something you could dip into your mind, heart, wallet or family life to see if everything lined up correctly, causing the paper to turn the right color and indicate a green light on dating again. Obviously, this magic bit of paper doesn’t exist, but you can perform the test yourself by taking an honest look at a few questions.
If you can answer yes to most of the questions below, you’re probably ready to test the post-divorce dating waters.
Do you know why you want to date?
Knowing what you want from the dating process reduces a lot of the confusion and angst, for yourself and any potential dating partners. Are you looking for conversation, sex or just a karaoke partner on Saturday nights? Do you want monogamy or just casual companionship?
Be honest and nonjudgmental with yourself, and demand the same from any potential date. While it’s true that 40 percent of marriages are remarriages, not everyone is looking for that type of endgame, and that’s okay.
Are you ready to be yourself and be honest with another person about what you want?
Once you know what you want, are you ready to let other people know? Dating doesn’t have to mean opening your entire life up to someone else, but it does mean being emotionally available enough to communicate what you want. If you can’t be honest with dating partners, you may not be ready to get involved with someone again, even on a more casual basis.
Can you handle some rejection?
The dating game can come with a bit of sting, so make sure you’re mentally and emotionally prepared for a “no” before you start the journey. People date for many reasons, and they don’t all date the same. Someone may only want to see others once a month, and if you’re looking for more connection, that could feel like rejection. You’ll also come across people with a lot going on in their lives, and sometimes the timing for them is just not right. When you come across a “no,” move on and don’t dwell on it.
Are you ready to approach dating with a positive, hopeful outlook?
Are you ready to let yourself have fun and enjoy the dating process? If you are still holding on to the grief process after a divorce or aren’t prepared to be positive about dating again, it might not be quite the right time for you.
Do you have a plan for dating?
Have you considered how dating will impact the rest of your life, and do you have a plan in place to cover your bases? This might include setting up babysitting, preparing a dating budget or drawing some lines in the sand about the type of dating and activities you’re willing to engage in.
Whether you’re looking for long-term romance or flirtatious fun in the moment, getting ready to date again after divorce does mean considering the practicalities. One of those is the financial aspect of dating. Here are a few numbers to consider and some tips for diving into dating on any budget.
- Babysitting rates average around $16 per hour but can be higher or lower depending on where you live. If you have kids, budget for babysitting costs or consider scheduling dating activities when kids are in school, with the other parent or family members or at their own functions (such as with church, school or community groups).
- Traditional dinner-and-movie dates cost on average around $102, with average costs in states such as California and New York well over the $200 mark. Determine what you can feasibly spend on dating, and don’t be pressured to go above that amount. You can have as much fun getting coffee, exploring a park or splitting appetizers and dessert as you can with a full-course meal and movie.
Be cognizant of negative dating commentary, and try to avoid it. As you get to know someone, think about what you say and anticipate their reaction before you say it. Stay away from passive aggressive comments, and try to focus on positive, active language.
But you don’t have to pretend that something is going great when it’s not. While you might want to put someone in their place for something you perceive, remember that you carry yourself with dignity and don’t have time for people like that. Ultimately, you decide how you spend your post-divorce dating time, and you don’t have to stick around if you don’t want to.
Every person comes into the dating game with a different background and individual baggage. Being honest about your desire for dating helps the other person decide if they’re up for a similar journey. And if they aren’t, it’s okay; you’re better off moving on and finding someone who is.
Sit down and consider each of the questions above to determine if you can honestly answer yes to them. Break out pen and paper to make pros and cons (or yes and no) lists to help you consider your answers. Being honest with yourself now will improve your dating life later.