Dating isn’t the easiest thing to do no matter where you’re at in life, but it’s especially tricky after divorce. There are lots of loose ends, baggage, children might be involved or multiple other issues might be making it difficult to start dating again.

But before you begin to date again, you should take some time. Generally, it’s best to wait 3 to 6 months dating after divorcebefore dating after divorce. This period gives you time to

  • deal with emotional outcomes and grieve the loss of a relationship
  • deal with legal issues
  • self-reflect on your marriage and the issues that ultimately ended the marriage
  • assess what you are looking for in a future partner

Self-reflection is so important. If you don’t understand yourself, your wants & needs, you will find them difficult to communicate to another person. And if you can’t communicate your feelings, finding a partner won’t be easy.

When you do start dating again, watch for these common pitfalls.

  • Take it slowly and pace yourself–don’t rush.
  • Becoming exclusive too quickly. Make sure you have social connections outside the person you’re dating.
  • Accept that you may be hurt again–don’t expect the road to be easy.
  • Resist becoming sexual too soon. When you do become intimate, be smart about it and practice safe sex.
  • Be careful not to transfer issues from the marriage to your new dating companion. If your spouse was unfaithful, don’t bring that distrust to the current relationship (without good reason).
  • If you have children, take everything even more slowly. Wait longer to begin dating and when you do, don’t introduce casual dates to your children.

Seek support. You aren’t the first and you’re not the last person to experience divorce. Divorce support groups can be a good sounding board as you begin dating. Counseling can also be helpful if you’re still having difficulty with self-reflection and to discuss your concerns with starting to date.

Finally, while it might be daunting to re-enter the dating scene, it’s part of the healing process. Dating can have a positive impact on your outlook–having a few successful dates helps affirm your positive qualities, that others still find you attractive and shows you that you can still have fun!