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Dating After Divorce: Part 1

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UPDATED: Divorce is the end of one chapter of your life, but it’s also the start of another. Ideally a better, healthier one. The topic of dating after divorce is one that comes up frequently. Since you were married, you were probably out of the game, so to speak, for a long time. It’s often scary and daunting to put yourself out there again, maybe for the first time in many years.

There’s no shortage of dating advice waiting out there, from friends to apps to so-called experts online. Everyone has tips and suggestions for improving your romantic life and relationships. In fact, there’s so much out there the sheer amount may overwhelm you, especially at first. Just Google “dating advice” and prepare for a landslide. 

Related Reading: My Ex Lets a New Partner Make Parenting Decisions

Expert Dating Advice

It’s difficult to know what’s real and what isn’t, what will work for you and what won’t. Sifting through everything you find to find quality advice isn’t as easy as it should be.

Knowledgeable, relevant advice about dating after divorce can be invaluable as you reenter that world. To that end, we sat down with Torr Lindberg, a local mental health counselor, looking to uncover useful information for men looking to explore romantic relationships post-divorce.

Torr has a focused practice that serves men in the Puget Sound area. He holds a Masters in Applied Behavioral Science, is a trained level II EMDR and Lifespan Integration therapist, and leads regular support groups in anger management, depression, and workplace anxiety. His practice helps men who struggle with anxiety, stress, and depression.

Torr’s advice comes from not only his education, but his personal experience. Being a man in the twenty-first century can be an intimidating prospect. Gone are the clearly defined roles of masculinity and the social expectations that were abundant in generations past.

The idea of what it means to be a man has changed and evolved into something much different than it once was. Men are often set adrift to sort out their masculinity without a guide and without a map. The result is an erosion of self-esteem and a struggle to establish a mature sense of self.

Related Reading: Breaking Down Divorce by Generation

Dating After Divorce

Wading back into the dating pool after divorce, you face many common pitfalls. Problems can undermine not only success in romantic relationships, but also derail self-esteem. Dating after divorce, it’s all too easy to feel out of place and uncertain about what lies ahead.

To that end, Torr offers advice about how to approach dating after divorce. He notes that it’s important for you to look at your past relationships, the unsuccessful ones, and examine and understand the patterns that have played out before. As the old adage goes, if you don’t remember the past, you’re doomed to repeat it.

If you don’t look at your earlier relationships, it’s far too easy and common to fall back into familiar patterns. A new situation may seem like a drastic departure from what you’ve experienced before. But if you don’t take steps to enact change, they often quickly turn into versions of the unhealthy relationships you’ve already experienced. More of the same is not what you’re looking for; to achieve a different result, you need to do something different.

Related Reading: 5 Scary Divorce Facts

Setting Expectations

Another key point Torr raises is the importance and benefit of setting expectations, especially setting realistic expectation. There’s a common misconception that dating after divorce will be simple. After all, new relationships are free from other attachments and ties to previous partners.

Torr is quick to point out that, even in new romantic endeavors, your ex is never entirely absent. The specter of that relationship looms large, even when you try to keep it separate.

Then there is the actual presence of your ex. If you have children, your ex is going to remain a part of your life going forward. You may not like it, but, outside of unusual circumstances, that’s a fact you need to accept. Unresolved issues don’t just evaporate when you sign the divorce papers.

New partners will likely meet your kids and probably encounter your ex eventually. It’s important to prepare for that as well. Even if you’ve both moved on, it’s rare for exes to be super excited to see each other with new people. On the other side of that equation, prepare to be somewhat involved in your ex’s dating life following the divorce.

Understanding the lasting impact and presence of an ex goes a long way to determining how successful you will be dating after divorce. It’s vital to establish realistic expectations for new relationships and not continually compare them to what came before.

Related Reading: How to Deal With Your Ex at Special Events

Looking Ahead

In the second part of this two-part series, we further discuss dating after divorce with Torr. Next up, he offers actionable advice for post-divorce dating life. This includes questions to ask yourself, ways to approach dating, and practical tips for how to proceed.

Related Reading: 6 Best Ways to Celebrate Divorce

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