Recovering from divorce isn’t an explainable process. Sure, words can be written down to describe the sudden change, the need for acceptance, the overwhelming feelings of anger, depression, sadness and failure. But these are simply descriptions, detailing something that can only truly be experienced. Words can describe the mechanics, but can’t capture the true soul. So, I won’t try and describe divorce. Instead, I’m going to skip straight forward and explain the signs that really let me know I was ready to date again.

This is not to say my experience is universally true, but my hope is that by writing this down, and sharing it with those who’re going through the same troubling time, some good will come of it all.

My ex-wife and I had three children together, starting as soon as we married. In hindsight, it might have been a good idea to wait until we’d been more settled in our marriage, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. It gave me my three wonderful daughters.

In total, we were married nine years. Again, for the sake of staying on point, we’ll not go into too much depth about our marriage. Suffice it to say that it had its ups and downs, and in the end, getting divorced was the right thing for us.

Skip forward to two years later. My daughters are now 10, 8, and 6 years old. They’re still very dependent but we’ve got a comfortable rhythm going. My ex-wife has them roughly 40 percent of the time (which is mostly weekends) and I’ve got them for the week. We’re all starting to thrive as a family again (by which I mean me and my daughters), and my ex and I are on speaking terms—mostly small interactions when we’re exchanging the kids. We’ve all come to accept the divorce as permanent and everyone is more or less settled into our new lives.

It took a long time, but I was beginning to be ready to date again. And, in retrospect, here’s the signs that really clued me in:

My anger had faded

Bitter thoughts of divorce were fading from my everyday life. Thinking about my divorce, my ex, and the years I’d spent married to her no longer made me angry or bitter. Sure, I wasn’t exactly looking back with rose colored glasses, but I was over the majority of my angst.

The kids had adjusted to the situation

Everything was becoming common place again. The world didn’t seem upside down, emotions were no longer running high, and everyone was truly beginning to feel comfortable. Our house was a home again, and didn’t feel like some kind of bizarre charade. Life was beginning to reclaim normalcy.

The fantasies were over

Everyone who’s been through the divorce process knows what I’m talking about. I was over the day dreams of both my ex and I passionately reuniting—and her admitting her foolish mistake, of course—and the slightly more macabre daydreams of the universe repaying her for all the pain she’d caused, in the form of some sort of life changing accident. Hey, I’m not proud of the last one. But it’s a human response to terrible pain caused by a loved one. And I was finally over it.

I wanted some true companionship

I was lonely. This is rather natural after divorce, but it wasn’t the same. I no longer wanted some kind of proof of my manhood, or even something to rub in my ex’s face. I truly just wanted someone of a like mind to spend time with. Someone I could laugh with, converse, and share ideas. Someone who would stimulate me intellectually and emotionally.

Of course, at the time I hadn’t been able to think through these things logically, much less articulate them. In the end, I knew I was ready to date again because—well—I just was. It sounds cliché, but it was simply the truth. I was tired of sitting around (not literally; my daughters are the handful any children are), and I felt ready to get back out there and meet new people.

In the end only you can know if you’re truly ready to start dating. I hope my experiences dealing with divorce, and eventually being ready to date, help you along your path. Everyone is different, and recovers and adapts in different ways. I wish the best for you.

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