We’ve all heard the statistic that 50% of all marriages end in divorce. However, recent statistics actually put that figure closer to 39%. Yay, doesn’t that mean more people are living happily ever after? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Clearly, divorce does happen and, even worse, so does being widowed, but the real reason the divorce rate is lower is that people are getting married less frequently. This also means that the number of couples that end up splitting up through death or divorce is closer to and fluctuates around the historic 50% rate.
Finding ways to cope with the pain of loss and returning to a state of peace can be difficult in even the best case scenarios –and seemingly impossible in the worst. So much so that even thinking about “getting back out there” can be overwhelming as you move through your healing process. However, we are all human which means sharing our lives with a significant other and experiencing romantic love and partnerships are critical to our core happiness and overall well-being.
The question most often asked when it comes to dating after divorce or the death of a spouse is where do I start? Many in this situation haven’t dated in a long time and, unfortunately, the game done changed. Nevertheless, beginning again is far from impossible. Here are five ways to help you get out there and find your way back to love.
1.) Date When You Are Ready – Grief has no time frame and picking up the pieces in the aftermath takes as much time as it takes. Even though it will come from a place of concern and love, don’t let others influence you or try to tell you when the “right time” has come. That said, it may be difficult for you to know that you are ready, so sometimes the best way to know whether or not you are ready is to go out on a date.
2.) Let The Negative Feelings Go – This is especially true for widows who may feel they are somehow betraying or “cheating” on their late spouse and of course you are not. You may feel shame or social embarrassment that you are trying to move on. Know that dating and wanting to find love again is not wrong, and if you are ready to do it you should. After a few dates the negative feelings should start to subside and if they don’t consider taking a step back from dating and giving yourself more time to heal and process.
3.) Take Your Time – Don’t Rush – Losing a spouse through death or divorce is a major shock and requires time to transition. Suddenly you have lost a companion, the person you have built a life with, possibly had children with. Even if you are ready to be away from your spouse it is still an emotional and real shift. Sometimes we overcompensate and jump into dating with full gusto because we are looking to fill the void our spouse previously occupied and to feel close to someone again. Bottom Line: Take your time and make sure the feelings you have for a new person are genuinely for them and not “replacement feelings”. When you take your time, and truly realize where your new feelings are coming from and what is motivating you it will be better for you and the potential new love interest down the road.
4.) A “Temporary” Relationship Is Fine – Continuing on the take your time theme, a temporary or transitional relationship is perfectly acceptable and shouldn’t be something you are afraid to do. As you transition from one normal to a new normal, your relationships will also reflect where you are in the process. You don’t have to rush into a serious relationship right out of the gate. Even if that is what you are looking for sometimes a lighter relationship or one with less investment, where you just have fun and where you can rediscover what you brings you joy and let’s you live a little is exactly what you need as you transition.
5.) Be Yourself – Rising from the ashes of divorce or the pain of loss can be hard because for many there is also a feeling of a loss of identity associated with the conclusion of a relationship. Best thing to remember here is to be comfortable and confident in yourself as that will in turn bring people around you who genuinely like you for the person you are instead of the person you think you should be.
The idea of facing a new reality when you lose the person you were supposed to face that reality with can be scary and isolating. However, if you take the time you need to heal, process, and transition to your new normal, you will find yourself in a place where you are ready for another love and ready to share your life with someone again. These tips can help you navigate the process and find your way back to love, at your own time, and on your own terms.