Divorce seems to be an epidemic amongst people my age (meaning in the middle of expected life). At least ten friends of mine have gotten a divorce in the last two years or are currently in the process of getting divorced and it the national average for divorce in the U.S. is holding steady at 50% according to National Center for Health Statistics. As a result of so many people finding themselves suddenly single, the question of when to begin dating is a regular topic of conversation.
My take on that issue is this: When you are ready. Now I must define what I mean by “ready”. It is disturbing to witness so many people jumping onto online dating sights minutes after they or their spouse has moved out of the primary residence. (or in the case of my tennis playing friend from a previous post, prior to even a verbal agreement to divorce between himself and his wife). In my opinion the mere physical separation of spouses does not constitute availability. (See the aforementioned blog post for my definition of available.) According to Charlotte Kasl, of IF THE BUDDHA DATED fame, a newly separated person is just beginning on a painful path of deconstructing a marriage and lacks the energy and attention to nurture a new love.
Of course, there is the possibility that these people are not looking for a new love but just want a hook up – which is fine if that is what they want and the other party involved is OK with that as well. But I smell a desperation about this behavior of dating before the marital bed is cold. I think people react out of fear of loneliness.
When people ask me what my thoughts are on when to date, I suggest that they get the divorce settled and then work on themselves for a while. Fill the space of the former spouse with things for yourself rather than another person. Go to therapy, sign up for a class in a subject area or for a hobby you have always wanted to try, take that trip you have always talked about- basically get to know yourself again. You will know you are ready to date when you can be discerning. When you know yourself better so that you can better identify what it is you want in a partner.
The other sign that it is the right time to start dating is when you feel confident enough in yourself that you can cull the undesirables easily because at this point in life there is no time to waste on the men that simply are not right for you.
What are your thoughts on when is a good time to begin dating following a divorce?