A-Z of Divorce: D…is for Dating

Chances are, you never thought you’d have another first kiss. You didn’t think you’d need to figure out what you talk about on a date, or how in the world people actually seem to get together; it all feels alien. But now, you can date again! What an opportunity! What an absolute minefield.

Now if you’re hoping I am about to reveal these secrets you’d better stop reading. I’m as clueless as the next person when it comes to knowing those things. So perhaps these are more pre-dating words of potential wisdom.

Divorce though, does open up the possibility of dating again which with all it’s ‘exciting’ and ‘new’ possibilities brings ‘slightly terrifying’ and the world of the unknown.

Becoming newly single might feel like the best thing that’s ever happened to you. Equally, it might feel the destruction of all your dreams. Either way, at some point the dating question might come up. People will likely begin asking if you’ve met anyone yet, the answer not being ‘yes I’ve met loads of new people’ and the obvious subtext being ‘have you met anyone you find attractive and would like to date?’.

But before you even begin to think about dating, be okay with being single. Enjoy being alone, even if that’s superbly difficult at first. And I don’t mean just feeling released from a marriage you may have been unhappy in. I mean enjoy being by yourself. I’ve lived through this advice the hard way – but actually, it’s incredibly worthwhile. Now I love being single – who knows, it might last forever, so I might as well enjoy it.

There is a lot that singleness offers us, in the same way that there’s a lot that dating offers, and marriage offers. For some, being content with singleness won’t be a challenge, and for others it will.

When I knew I would ‘soon’* be divorced, I made a decision. I wouldn’t date while I was still married. I felt that if God had called me to commit to and honour my marriage, then I would do so up until the end. It wasn’t (sadly) due to a flood of offers, but because I wanted my attitude to marriage to be one I could hold up to my own scrutiny and not find too wanting. So my second piece of advice would be think about the timing of your dating. Society would have us think it is a goal to be achieved, like a 100m sprint, but there is time. The moment you separate or that your divorce comes through isn’t the start gun to dating. There’s no hurry to find someone new. The best advice I ever heard was to run towards God, and then see who is keeping up. If you’re not a Christian – run for the heartbeat that’s in you. Don’t, as I think we’re all wont to do (hopefully it’s not just me…), run and look around as you go. World class athletes don’t spend the whole race looking over their shoulders. Pursue what you were made for, rather than focusing on the next guy or girl you find attractive. There’s nothing wrong with pursuing them too, but don’t make that your primary pursuit. No one person will fulfil all your dreams, so don’t be drawn in to finding perfection. Pursuing your dreams makes you more attractive anyway, so that’s a win-win scenario!

Something I have become increasingly aware of, is that if you are going to date, be intentional. I do not mean marry them. I mean, feel free to marry them in the end, but if you’re going to date, give your time to that one person. Maybe it’s for two weeks, maybe it’s longer. But while you’re seeing how things go, enjoy their company and choose to honour them by how you look at and interact with others. It’s all too easy in a world of internet dating to keep your options open once you’ve decided to meet someone. Be different, be intentional. Two weeks isn’t that long to invest in someone if you might want any sort of future with them.

Tempting as it is with the much missed closeness, jumping into another relationship also isn’t going to heal the problems from the last one. So take stock and reflect. I was not a perfect wife – so where could I have been better? This is also not saying you should marry whoever you date, but being aware of your own weaknesses means you can work through those and improve on them, or leave them behind, before you lug them into another relationship with you. No relationship is perfect, so while any new partnership might have difficulties and strains, let them be their own and refuse to create damaging patterns by considering your own behaviours and being released from these. This takes time. The longer I’m single, the more I seem to find things I can work on.

And finally, grow. As a Christian I would say grow in God, grow in patience, generosity, self control… But grow. Grow into who you are and what you love. Grow into a person who’s beautiful inside so that it shines out.

So while this may not help you get an actual date, hopefully it might help in keeping one. There are no time limits, there’s no ‘too quick’ or ‘too long’, and it’s not a race to the altar – there is time to grow, to consider, to enjoy and to reflect. And apply this to dating…while you might not want to date for five years and not know what will happen next, it’s not a race, and chances are you’ll learn as much along the way too.

*By ‘soon’ I mean the decision has been reached and the paperwork trail begins…turns out this takes a while.

Explore the rest of the A-Z…

A…is for Adulting

B…is for Belonging

C…is for Counselling

D…is for Dating

E…is for Eating (or not)

F…is for Failure

G…is for Generosity

H…is for Hope

I…is for Intimacy

J…is for Jealousy

K…is for Keepsakes

L…is for Love

M…is for Marriage

N…is for Naught

O…is for Overcoming

P…is for Possibilities

Q…is for Questions

R…is for Regret 

S…is for Social Media

T…is for Thoughts

U…is for Upfront

V…is for Version

W…is for Weddings

X…is for Ex-in-laws

25 thoughts on “A-Z of Divorce: D…is for Dating

  1. Love the idea of an A-Z and this rings so true about dating. 2 years on from my wife ending our marriage and a year on from a subsequent break-up (yes, I dived straight back in) I’d say I’m only recently felt comfortable being single and haven’t felt the need to put myself under any pressure to be in a serious relationship. Life after divorce isn’t easy but it isn’t so bad once you’ve gotten used to it, and you certainly learn a lot!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There’s an awful lot of wisdom in this series of posts, as far as I have read! I’m at the “paperwork stage” of divorce now, and I resonate with a lot of what you went through too: that alien sense of being on your own after a long marriage (and we were together since 18 too, which exacerbates that); the sense of opportunity that you somehow can’t quite grasp. And a loss of sense of purpose or direction too.

    So I am trying to take the opportunity to re-centre my life around God (which seems the logical thing to do as well as the natural), but sometimes I find myself feeling confused or else generally listless. I suppose it’s a part of the grieving process which comes with all of this, and I know what God is capable of making out of messy situations and broken people.

    And yet it still feels like there is a large hole which was left by my wife, even though the breakup was in fact well over a year ago: like you, I had felt committed to my marriage to the bitter end, and perhaps I still do even now, though that idea somehow *also* feels strange now! In some ways, I suppose I think maybe it was for the best, even though I have lost my best friend, my closest confidante, and my first love. Not to mention (as far as I can interpret it) the wife that God prophesied I would one day have!

    But I live in hope, though there is yet a long way to go before I recover from all of this! I feel like at this stage, it’s important to take each day as it comes, and to enjoy the opportunities that present themselves, be that something new and exciting or simply a cup of coffee with an old friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you David. I’m sorry you’re finding life so challenging. I agree with you though – it is a process, and although it was the hardest time in my life to date, it was also the time I felt closest to God and felt I really knew love and support around me in a meaningful way. There is definitely hope!

      I would recommend the ‘restored lives’ course if there is one near you, meeting others in the situation and who have come through the other side. Definitely enjoy moments of joy and happiness – eventually it becomes the norm!

      Like

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