With over two decades of experience as a professional matchmaker, I’ve had the privilege of assisting numerous people in their quest for finding love after divorce. Throughout my journey, I’ve had the opportunity to connect deeply with my clients, who often confide in me about the emotional toll divorce can take on their self-esteem. Many of them express feelings of disappointment and a sense of personal failure.
Nobody gets married with divorce in mind, but that doesn’t mean it constitutes a failure. For the most part, the union of marriage is entered into with pure intentions and visions of love, partnership and long-term commitment.
Despite that, divorce still happens. When a couple has tried everything and arrives at the conclusion that they cannot remain married, it does not mean either partner is a failure.
I wish they could see themselves as I do. I see people who gave it their all and overcame obstacles only to find that the final hurdle was insurmountable. I witness the courage it takes to accept when a situation is no longer worth holding on to. I observe those who get through the darkest days by holding onto hope for a brighter tomorrow. I am a spectator to those who get back up again, despite the pain of the fall.
Jumping from the security of marriage into the dating pool can shock anybody’s system, especially in today’s digital dating landscape. In fact, even a small foray into swiping can cause the bravest people to become inundated with fear and indecision and dulled by monotony. Dating after divorce may be tricky, but it shouldn’t be traumatic.
Navigating the modern dating scene can feel like uncharted territory, especially for those who haven’t taken time to fully process and heal from divorce. There should be a period of introspection, but often people bypass that incredibly important step.
Ultimately, if you haven’t unearthed what you genuinely want, and who you are in this new phase of life, you won’t find your perfect match. If you don’t understand your current needs, desires, values and boundaries, dating may become burdensome, tedious, and even terrifying.
This is where a professional matchmaking service comes in. More than simply helping you swipe, I will guide your journey toward coming to terms with and healing from divorce. I will arm you with the emotional tools needed to successfully navigate dating after divorce.
How to Overcome the Common Mistakes in Finding Love After Divorce
In my experience as a professional matchmaker and CEO of LEVELConnections, I am the “wing man”, or, “wing woman”, who cheers on my clients as they explore dating after separation or divorce. Together, we discover what works — and what doesn’t — as they learn how to date after divorce.
Through each experience, I’ve tweaked and adapted, realigned and revamped, and ultimately unearthed the secret to finding love after divorce.
Witnessing someone experience the exhilaration of sparking a connection after feeling as if their love story was over is an indescribable feeling. I believe everybody deserves a happily ever after, and it is my hope that by sharing a list of common mistakes to avoid, I can inspire people who are feeling anxiety after divorce to embark on a dating journey.
1. Avoid the Habit of Constantly Mentioning Your Ex
Marriage is a partnership, which means you and your ex experienced most things together. It is understandable that they will always be part of your stories, but when dating after separation or divorce, it is important to focus on the present, not the past.
I worked with a woman who had been married for over two decades before making the difficult decision to get divorced. She spent a year immersed in introspection and then reached out to seek guidance on finding her first serious relationship after divorce. She loved being married and was ready to settle down again.
But she couldn’t get out of her own way.
It was an amicable divorce, so she still had fond feelings for her ex and brought him up constantly. While she was prepared to leave her past behind her and step into a beautiful future, she struggled with striking the balance between appreciating history and dwelling on it. So even though she sparked connections, mentioning her ex so often hindered her ability to transform those into meaningful relationships.
We worked closely together and with time and practice, she learned how to move past her past, and before she knew it, she was in her first (and hopefully last) serious relationship after her divorce.
When you are building new relationships after divorce, it’s crucial to focus on the person you are getting to know, rather than rehashing your past.
2. Avoid Seeking Immediate Comfort in New Relationships After Divorce
Another mistake I’ve witnessed is seeking comfort in a new relationship. It’s only natural when the security and familiarity of commitment are ripped out from under you, but it is counterintuitive. While it may feed your need for stability in the short term, without a deeper bond, it can’t last.
Instead, focus on a relationship with yourself.
Learn what makes you happy, what your new desires and needs are, and understand where you are headed. This self-awareness will help you choose the right person to begin building a strong foundation with. And as you experience the inevitable ups and downs of dating after separation or divorce, you will be better equipped to recognize them as simply part of the journey.
Eventually, as you ease into a relationship built on mutual respect, commitment and love, the confidence you possess in yourself and your partner will allow you to enjoy the security and familiarity you desire. In the meantime, enjoy the new feelings of excitement, the occasional nerves and the curiosity of geting to know new people. Dating is just relating!
3. Don’t Restrict Your Social Circle
I remember a client lamenting the isolation he was experiencing after his divorce. His friends were her friends, and as the two parted ways, so did his social circle. As the less outgoing of the two, he was discovering that most of his social interaction arose from her network.
Instead of allowing anxiety to take over and sinking into feelings of loneliness after the divorce, he reached out to me. Together we explored a myriad of ways he could leverage this as an opportunity for growth, rather than the obstacle of isolation. His natural optimism quickly kicked in and he fully embraced the chance to create new connections.
He began seeking out social activities and groups that required him to move beyond his comfort zone. He also focused on deepening connections with those that were already part of his life, such as family and friends. As he rebuilt his confidence and increased his social network, he discovered new things about himself that he really liked. More in touch with himself than ever before, he joined LEVEL Connections, our professional matchmaking service, and began meeting other singles with shared interests and values.
Divorce will be life-altering. There is no way around that, but if you make the conscious choice to create new experiences and meet new people you can adapt to the brave new world you find yourself in.
4 Tips for Rediscovering Dating After Separation or Divorce
Now that you have gained a greater understanding of some of the biggest mistakes to avoid at all costs, let’s complete the recipe for success by exploring four of the most important strategies for rediscovering dating after separation or divorce.
1. Overcome Your Trauma and Find Inner Peace
I’ve mentioned how important it is to let the past go, but I recognize that is not as simple as it sounds. The end of any marriage can leave both partners questioning their worth and ability to ever find love again. After all, if you failed once, isn’t it likely you will fail again?
It’s important to remember that divorce does not equal failure.
I love this article in Forbes magazine which offers a great explanation and better definition of success and failure. Success is defined as the state of living and working according to our values and failure is the state of living and working in a way that isn’t aligned with our values.
So, you can see that deciding to have a new life that’s aligned with what is most important to you is the truest definition of success!
Every ending leaves room for new beginnings. Before entering the dating world, ensure you are ready by engaging in self-reflection and reconnecting with your core identity. Prioritize overcoming trauma and finding inner peace by understanding who you truly are. Building a solid foundation of self will allow you to confidently jump into the dating pool without drowning.
It’s also critical to recognize that another person can never fix you. If you enter into relationships after divorce without proper healing and self-discovery, you may attract someone whose core values and aspirations do not align with yours. This can be harmful to your future as you want to be in a neutral place of health and happiness in order to have a healthy relationship. Can you date when you’re still sad, angry or upset from your divorce? Sure, but your future will be so much brighter if you take the time to get a coach or advisor to help you get a handle on your past and a clear vision for your future.
2. Rebuild Trust in Yourself and Others
It’s extremely challenging to get back out there after a divorce. And it is tough to trust another person, or even yourself, again. One helpful tip is to realize that you’re not starting over. You’re simply moving into your next chapter.
Regardless of the outcome, marriage taught you what it means to be in a committed partnership and how to meet another person’s needs, while not losing sight of your own. This offers you a distinct advantage over those who haven’t yet experienced such depth of connection. You already have a solid foundation, you simply need to revitalize your confidence and hone your ability to communicate your emotions. You may not have dating skills yet, but you do have relationship skills!
Building and rebuilding trust takes time, and it begins within. Be patient and gentle with yourself while navigating the healing process, and you can use your experiences as the catalyst for growth.
Trust arises out of full transparency. It is vital to express your feelings, needs and boundaries to a potential partner so that they are equipped to respect, understand and embrace all of you. You don’t need to nor should you express your fears and concerns to potential partners. That only pushes love away and gives the impression you don’t trust yourself. However, asking for what you need is essential to dating. You deserve someone who values and cherishes you, every moment of every day, forever.
3. Recognize When You’re Emotionally Ready to Date
The emotions divorce evokes are messy, complicated and chaotic. While this is normal, it’s important to postpone dating until you have reached the point where they no longer weigh you down.
You will get there, I promise.
Once you have healed from emotional wounds, you can access the emotional capacity to enter the dating world again. When I work with someone who has endured the trauma of divorce, we begin by establishing their needs, goals, boundaries and desired lifestyle. Once these have been identified, we spend time exploring them until he or she has a strong grasp of their inner self and true expectations. This is how we know they are ready for this wondrous new chapter. I like to say that getting to a place of neutrality is your goal and green light for dating. You wouldn’t want to meet someone who doesn’t feel good about themselves or their life and you shouldn’t do this to someone else either. You and you alone are responsible for your healing.
4. Prepare Your Authentic Self to Re-Enter the Dating World
My goal is to remove the mystery from the dating process. Once my clients are ready to date again, I aid them in becoming more relatable and desirable by developing their communication skills and learning how to embrace their most authentic selves.
For those feeling hesitant or overwhelmed, I recommend starting slowly and shifting your perspective. Rather than viewing dating as a daunting task, try viewing it as an organic step in your life path. At its core, dating is simply connecting with others. Every first date you brave is an opportunity to learn about another person, engage in meaningful conversation and maybe even spark a genuine connection. If you can fall in love with meeting new people and simply being curious about them without an expectation of a relationship, you’ll be happier in your dating life.
It’s important to experience dating as a journey and not simply a destination.
Navigating Post-Divorce Dating with Confidence
Navigating the turbulent waves of dating after divorce can feel overwhelming and uncertain. There is no way to see what is lurking below the surface, so it’s important to keep your eyes on the horizon. Recognize that you are in uncharted waters, but smooth sailing is ahead if you remain on course.
Steering the ship to safety is where I come in. As a matchmaker and relationship expert, my role is to offer guidance, support and strategies for mastering dating after divorce. Together, we will dive beyond the surface with deep self-reflection and healing as you embark on a thrilling dating adventure. Through LEVEL Connection, you will be empowered with renewed confidence and a sense of purpose as you learn how to successfully date after divorce.
Your love story is not over, you simply need to turn the page to the next thrilling chapter.