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4 min read

What to Know When Starting A First Relationship After Divorce

a couple goes to therapy

None of us are born with an innate understanding of what to know about relationships after divorce, and so it can be easy to fall into old patterns, feel confused in our new dating life, or jump into a new relationship before we're ready. In this article, we'll share therapist-approved strategies for dating after divorce, as well as some common pitfalls in post-divorce relationships.

Are you ready for a relationship after divorce?

It's important to remember that divorce is a serious life change that can be one of the most difficult experiences that a person can have. No matter what the reason was for the breakup, you may need to go through a period of mourning before jumping on to dating sites. In the meantime, here are some things you can do and consider before deciding whether you're ready to start a new relationship.

Process the Things Learned From Your Last Relationship

Don't feel a need to rush forward through any negative emotions you may be experiencing. Feel them, sit with them, and process them. It can be hard for a while, especially if your prior marriage was your first serious relationship.

Not rushing into the dating scene can give you time to explore your feelings, and to learn more about yourself before trying to incorporate another person into your life. The first relationship after divorce can feel monumental, but a little time for yourself can lend perspective and keep you from making a lot of mistakes.

Make Sure You Are Truly Over Your Ex

A part of this process can be to pause and consider whether you are well and truly over your ex-partner. This can either be simple or complicated, based on the circumstances of your relationship. But before embarking on any future relationships, make sure the previous relationship has been completely resolved.

Kids Are Always More Important Than a New Partner

New relationships can be exciting, and when you are in the throes of a new relationship, you may find it harder to prioritize your children's feelings. Often, a child experiences a lot of big feelings after a divorce and may require time to process their own emotions. Their adjustment and mental well-being should be the priority post-divorce.

When you do re-enter the dating scene, it can be best to wait a while before introducing them to a new partner.

Learn the Differences Between Chemistry and Connection

Post-divorce dating can be casual for a while (or forever). There's nothing wrong with that, as some people may choose to simply have casual flings with people of similar interests. If you are someone who wants to keep new romantic relationships simply physical, that's fine.

However, if after divorce, you are interested in seeking a new partner in a long-term relationship, then it's important to understand the differences between chemistry and connection. In a new relationship, you can feel elation and tend to look at everything through rose-colored glasses. When you start dating a new partner, you often inflate good traits, and excuse red flags. This is chemistry. It can be important not to dive in with this new person too quickly. Keep separate bank accounts, and realize that your new partner is not the only person that you can connect with.

Connection is something that is built over time and leads to healthy relationships. This is when you see a person for who they are and are not afraid to share the worst parts of yourself with them. You learn to communicate your needs with them and to consider their needs. Often, after a divorce, it can be a good idea to attend divorce counseling for a while to learn more about communication, especially if your marriage ended poorly or if it was your first serious relationship.

Is the first relationship after divorce doomed?

A rebound relationship is inevitable after a divorce. While it's not common for this first relationship to last, it doesn't mean that they're doomed either. If you've put in the work to avoid the same mistakes you made in your past relationships, and took some time to heal before you started dating again, there's no reason why you can't have a healthy, long-term relationship. And realize too, that if your first relationship after divorce doesn't last, that's also okay.

Don't trash talk your ex-partner with your current partner.

When you start dating again, it can be tempting to talk about how awful your ex was with your new relationship. This isn't a good idea for several reasons. It can prevent you from healing, it can be damaging to others (especially if you have children involved), and it can make you look bad to your new partner.

Should you get back together with an ex after a breakup?

This can be a tricky question. Because very rarely, that first relationship after divorce can offer perspective and give you a better sense of what you may have had with your former spouse. But there are a lot of ifs in this scenario.

If you and your partner had a mostly healthy relationship with many of the same values, if you both feel romantic interest in each other, if you are ready to address the same patterns that affected the relationship quality, and if you're ready to work together through therapy to invest in each other's emotional well being, then maybe it can work. It’s possible, but rare.

Therapy Can Help You Get Ready to Date Again

Your best bet before dipping your toe in the dating pool again is therapy. Before you start dating or even thinking about a new relationship, a therapist can help you work through the challenges you faced in your previous marriage. If your former spouse was abusive, this can be especially important.

A therapist can help you manage feelings of low self-esteem or self-confidence, learn how to communicate more effectively, identify and heal emotional wounds, and offer coping mechanisms to help you move past your past relationship and be in a better mental space to find happiness with a new person.

Dating After Divorce in Austin, TX

If you have recently been divorced and are unsure of how to move forward, therapy can help you get back into the dating scene safely.

At Williamsburg Therapy Group, our doctoral-level psychologists specialize in a number of therapy areas, including post-divorce.

Give us a call today, and our patient coordinator will help you find the right divorce and relationship therapist in Austin to help you process any negative thoughts and beliefs about your previous relationship, and offer you the tools to date again with confidence.

Book a Therapy Session in Austin Today

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