How Do I Know If I am Ready to Date Again?
By: David Lechnyr, LCSW
After a painful divorce or if a relationship falls apart, it is important that we take a honest look and understand why the relationship fell apart to ensure that we are whole and ready before we can be a good partner to someone else. Getting involved in a new relationship or getting re-married because you are bored or lonely will only ensure the same disaster and heartache that you have already experienced. We do this to avoid struggling, growing and learning to live as a whole person.
Before you start a new relationship, make certain to ask yourself these important questions:
- Have I forgiven my former spouse as well as myself?
- Have I experienced being successfully single for all the seasons of the year?
- Am I still playing get even games with my former spouse?
- When someone asks me about my divorce, do I have a hard time recalling events and situations?
- Do I think of myself as a divorced person?
- Has my self-esteem grown measurably over the past year?
- Do I enjoy my work?
- Do people tell me they can’t believe how well I am doing?
- Am I always looking for a potential mate?
- Am I comfortable doing things by myself?
- Am I haunted by loneliness?
- Do I enjoy making my own decisions?
- Am I okay with coming home at the end of the day and spending the evening by myself?
- Do I resent the word single?
- Am I envious when I see happily married people?
- Can I measure my growth since I became single?
- Am I looking for someone to take care of me?
- Am I looking to take care of someone?
- Do I enjoy hearing other people’s divorce war stories?
- Do I believe I can be a good wife or husband for someone?
- Do I still largely fear marriage?
- Do I feel comfortable with my singleness?
- Am I excited about possible career advancements or changes?
- Do I usually wait for someone to tell me what to do?
- Am I angry that I am single at this point in my journey through life?
- Am I still bitter about my divorce?
- Do I feel good about my personal growth and accomplishments?
- Do I make plans and work towards goals in my life?
- Do I think that all men/woman have a hidden agenda in remarriage?
- Do I believe I am lovable?
- Do I believe I can contribute to the happiness of another person?
- Am I a happy person?
- Have I forgiven myself for my contributions to my divorce, regardless of what other people think?
- Is my lifestyle mergeable with another?
If children are involved, the issue becomes more complicated. Children of divorce tend to show more emotional and aggressive problems. There are ways of developing preventive programs that parents and others can use to help children cope with a major disruption in their feelings of security, trust and consistency when divorce happens. In fact, children are good actors in that they pretend that everything is normal, even though they tend to continue having poorer adjustments even into adulthood compared to their peers. Some of the problem may be related to the fact that the parents are modeling ineffective coping techniques themselves which provides a poor example for their children.
These are important questions to consider as you walk towards new relationships. It’s helpful to talk these over with a counselor or therapist in order to look at the areas that you need to work on and consider. Remember, it is okay to be single. Many people in a relationship can still end up being lonely. A relationship does not cure or make you whole; you must be whole before you are a worthwhile partner to someone else.