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11 Expert Tips for Dating After Divorce

We asked relationship experts to share their best advice for the newly single.

Dating can be a challenge no matter what stage of life you're in. Still, re-entering the dating scene after getting divorced is sure to bring about a certain number of unique concerns. Thankfully, getting back out there after the end of your marriage doesn't have to be an impossible feat—you might just need some additional advice to help you navigate things the second time around. Ready to take the next step? Read on for 11 expert tips for dating after divorce.

RELATED: 7 Steps to Take After a Great First Date to Guarantee a Second One.

Wait until your divorce is finalized first.

Hands of wife, husband signing decree of divorce, dissolution, canceling marriage, legal separation documents, filing divorce papers or premarital agreement prepared by lawyer. Wedding ring.

You might be eager to start dating again as soon as you and your ex decide to separate. But Derek Jacques, divorce attorney at The Mitten Law Firm, strongly recommends people wait until their divorce is finalized before they jump back into the dating pool.

"If you start going on dates while your divorce is still working its way through the court system, you could end up complicating your legal situation. Your soon-to-be ex spouse could use this as ammunition in a custody hearing or even when it comes to the division of property," Jacques cautions. "Instead, focus on the divorce itself and then once your marriage is officially over, you can hop on Tinder or ask out a cute person you've had your eye on."

Take some time for yourself beforehand.

Pensive relaxed woman reading a book at home, drinking coffee sitting on the couch. Copy space. Lifestyle concept.

Even if everything is already finalized through the legal system, one of the biggest mistakes someone can make after divorce is to direct all their complicated emotions into the search for their next partner—especially before they've had time to really understand how they feel about what happened with their marriage.

"Dating can be difficult. It can trigger emotions from past relationships and often brings the experience of rejection," says Jessica Small, LMFT, premarital counselor, parenting coach, therapist, and life coach with Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. "If you're still reeling from the divorce or constantly fighting with your ex, it is going to make dating difficult and potentially put you into a relationship with someone that isn't good for you. Make sure that before you date, you reconnect with your single self."

RELATED: 8 Things You Should Stop Buying After a Divorce, Finance Experts Say.

Work on building back your self-confidence.

Portrait of a senior man on the tennis court

You need to be purposeful with this time. Small advises using it to do things that make you feel confident and complete before you start trying to get those positive emotions from others.

Stephania Cruz, relationship expert with Dating Pilot, echoes these sentiments, explaining that "only after you have healed, processed, and learned from your previous relationship" should you dive into searching for another one.

"This healing process also brings about self-discovery," Cruz says. "This self-discovery and healing will not be attainable if the person rushes into a new relationship right after a divorce."

Refine your divorce story.

Hand or finger, ring and divorce of a woman at table with doubt, anxiety or thinking about depression. Female person taking off wedding band jewellery for separation counselling, cheating or mistake

Once you've sorted out your own complicated emotions, you'll need to be prepared about how to discuss your divorce with whomever you're dating—without going into too much detail.

"Can you safely go on a first date for two full hours, with only two drinks, and not mention your ex?" asks Tammy Shaklee, relationship expert and founder of H4M Matchmaking.

She recommends practicing at home before going out on a date, maybe by getting a friend to help you try out a short response of one or two sentences you can give when asked about your ex or divorce.

"Have your statement prepared, and the quick segue on to the next more interesting subject," Shaklee advises.

Practice talking positively about your divorce.

man and woman talking through divorce

It's normal to have less-than-positive feelings about an ex-spouse. But don't let that negativity seep into your new life once you start dating again.

"When someone first meets you, they want to know if they like you enough to continue spending time with you," says Kathy Nickerson, PhD, licensed clinical psychologist and relationship expert. "Most people prefer someone who is kind in their recollections of the past and optimistic about the future. So find a positive way to spin your divorce; focus on lessons learned. Then talk about what you're looking forward to in the future."

Figure out what you are looking for in a future partner.

A smiling woman and her boyfriend enjoying spending their leisure time together.

After leaving a committed relationship, your perception of yourself has likely been shaken or otherwise impacted by your partner. So, as you get back into dating, you should be clear about what it is you're looking for, and what you have to offer.

Ellen Kenner, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice and co-author of The Selfish Path to Romance, says that a recent divorcée can take what they've learned about themselves from their last relationship into the dating scene.

"If your spouse was not affectionate and you long for hugs, words of endearment, and a playful quality to the relationship, then that is a deep value that you will be looking for in a partner going forward," Kenner notes. "If your partner lied, then obviously, you want to look for someone with better character."

RELATED: 10 Signs You Have Amazing Chemistry With Someone, Dating Coach Says.

Determine what you have to offer your next relationship.

Young man hugging his girlfriend standing in cafe. Young guy expressing his love for his lady giving flowers and a warm hug during a coffee shop date.

At the same time, those returning to dating following a divorce are also at an advantage, because they may be able to understand what they can do better in a future relationship. Before you start dating again, make sure you take time to determine what you have to offer going forward.

"You want to know how you might have contributed to bumps in the marriage, not as an opportunity for beating up on yourself with endless regrets, but to learn and grow," Kenner explains. "You can grow from discovering things you want to improve."

Change the way you think about dating.

Senior couple eating food on vineyard, lunch at wine farm during holiday in Italy for retirement and luxury vacation in the country side. Happy, smile and love elderly man and woman in nature

There's a tendency to group people into "leagues" when it comes to dating, as in someone is either in your league or out of it. Simone Collins, co-author of The Pragmatist's Guide to Relationships, recommends tossing out this way of thinking when dating post-divorce.

Instead, start thinking about dating in terms of market value and individual value.

"Market value is the average price a fish will sell for at a market, while individual value is how much I am willing to pay for a fish," Collins says. "Your goal in dating is typically to find an individual who has a much higher individual value to you than their market value. The higher this ratio, the more stable your relationship will be."

Adjust your expectations to better match today's dating scene.

Happy couple communicating while drinking cocktails during social gathering in the kitchen.

No matter how long you've been out of the dating scene, things have probably changed. You'll likely need to adjust your expectations for how dating will play out today compared to how it was even just a few years back—let alone a decade or more.

"Maybe you were accustomed to dating and getting to know people one person at a time even when there is no exclusive relationship established," says Kevin Darné, relationship expert and author of Online Dating Avoid The Catfish. "In the dating world of today there are dating apps, and casual dating [and] 'shopping around' before committing is oftentimes the norm. Just because you've had a couple of great dates with someone or maybe even have had sex doesn't mean they're not keeping their options open, and so should you."

RELATED: Divorce Rings: How to Repurpose Your Engagement and Wedding Jewelry.

Get more familiar with online dating.

Young man using a dating app

If you got married before online dating became the norm, you might need to do some extra legwork. Jason Silver, dating coach with, advises that anyone getting back into dating take some time to learn about online dating before diving into it.

"Many people who are dating now after a divorce have little to no experience with online dating and jumping in head first can be very overwhelming," he cautions. "Spending just five minutes searching on Google about the best dating sites for your age group and how to use them will allow you to enter the online dating world with confidence."

Prepare yourself for rejection.

Frustrated adult man at a restaurant being stood up for dinner - lifestyle concepts

Rejection isn't always easy, but it may be especially hard to bear if you've just ended a marriage. That's why Tina Wilson, relationship expert and founder of Wingman, recommends that newly divorced people prepare themselves for this potential outcome before they start dating again.

"Remind yourself that rejection in the dating world is completely normal so don't get too attached emotionally at first before you get to know your date a bit more," Wilson recommends. "Don't be consumed by dating or fear of rejection, and persist in your search and don't dwell if something didn't work out."

This story has been updated to include additional entries, fact-checking, and copy-editing.

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
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