rebound after divorceIt’s been a long time since you have been on a date, probably with someone you are no longer married to. How do you know when to start dating after the divorce? The stress and pain of it is behind you, but maybe not far enough. Let me help you navigate this tricky transition time between divorce and dating.

Knowing when to date after divorce means you must know yourself. Getting to know you after a divorce is a process you don’t want to shortchange. It is just as important to know what you are looking for in a relationship. What do you need? What would be nice? What could you live without?

Being ready to date again also means being prepared mentally, emotionally and physically.  Don’t date until you are ready.  You want to set yourself up for success.  Give yourself the freedom of a little time to make sure your past is firmly in the past before giving love another chance.

The post-divorce danger zone is the rebound relationship. If you start dating too soon, your chances of entering this danger zone increase. But so many people are drawn quickly into a relationship after a break up. Why?

A rebound relationship is often a distraction to keep you from experiencing the emotional pain of a recent divorce.  You may simply want to avoid any sadness, guilt, and anger you are feeling, or anxiety about being alone.  Or it may be a misguided attempt to move on quickly with your life. In time, you see it as a little desperate, after jumping into a bad relationship that you would never have chosen if you weren’t feeling reckless.

Here are some clues that you may be in a rebound relationship:

•Divorced one week and dating the next? That speaks of urgency – probably borne of a natural desire to simply get it right next time around. However, that urgency may cause you to rush in the wrong direction.

•Dating an exact clone of your ex? Are you trying to get back a relationship that didn’t work? Ask yourself, “Why?”

•Dating the polar opposite of your ex? You may have sought out this opposite, not for specific qualities you like about him or her, but simply because he or she is not your ex. Perhaps you expect a partner to make up for the pain you experienced in your previous relationship. Maybe you are looking for someone to save you from your heartache.

•Dating just anyone who comes along? If you are pretty sure you just took the first person who came along, it may be that you are trying to fill a void with intimacy and security, even if it is a poor match.

•Taking your new date to places you and your ex used to go? You may be using this person to fill a space in your life so that you can relive the past. Is that wise?

•Feeling indecisive about relationship commitment? That makes sense. You are likely still adjusting to a single life by keeping your options open because you settled the last time. Maybe you started dating too soon.

•Dating to distract yourself? Finding distractions from the pain of a broken heart or simple loneliness can be helpful in getting you through the rough patch, but if you are dating someone to do it, think twice. You may be simply using someone. When that person has served the purpose, you will move on, leaving him or her to pick up the pieces.

There is no formula I can offer to calculate the perfect amount of time between relationships.  Everyone adjusts differently.  But the magic word is time – give yourself plenty of it. Use it to evaluate your previous relationship, and learn from it, so you won’t repeat the mistakes of your past. Use it to know you are okay, so that you have something genuine to offer the lucky person who gets to date you when you’re ready.

Most importantly, use that time to get to know the new you. Figure out what you want and need in your life and your relationships.  You will come out on the other side stronger, more confident and ready to open your precious heart to someone new

For Betty Russell’s website, visit

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