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9 Tips for Dating Again After a Bad Breakup or Divorce, According to Experts

Dating after divorce is nerve-wracking. Ending a marriage can cause you to feel many insecurities and emotions. And they tend to stick out when you start dating again. They’ll make you feel lonely and reconsider what you value in a romantic partner.

But you deserve to be happy! And that means learning to have fun again after your break-up and navigating dating after a divorce. That’s why we’ve asked relationship experts for their best tips for dating again after a bad breakup or divorce.

1.  Have fun

According to Worthy, 78% of women already start thinking about dating again by the time the divorce papers are signed. In fact, 22% considered dating during their separation, 28% during divorce proceedings, and 28% were ready to move on after signing the divorce papers. While 22% were still considering whether or not to date again.

There’s no need to rush back into dating after your divorce but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun. For some people, the idea of casually dating is scary. However, it may be just what you need to help you enjoy life after a bad break-up. For example, think back to how your life was before your marriage. You were single and mingling with new people. That could be all you need until your goals change and you’re ready to commit to someone again.

2.  Get clear on your goals

Before you jump back into the dating pool, take some time to figure out what you want next as a divorce can take its toll on your mental health. An article from the Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine says that 79% of divorcees experience mild depression and average health and life satisfaction.

Jaclyn Friedenthal, Psy.D., says, “Dating requires a certain amount of vulnerability, tolerance of uncertainty, and willingness to feel a range of emotions.” So first, consider why you want to start dating again. Are you looking for rebound sex to get over your broken relationship? Or do you want to find a long-lasting romance? People date for all different reasons. But new divorcees find it best to have a clear mind so they know what to expect when dating for the first time after their separation.

3.  Mourn your previous marriage

When you spend some time by yourself, you will reflect on the breakdown of your marriage. You may have questions or overthink your behavior. Maybe you realize there are parts of yourself that you’ve lost due to the divorce. For example, you might not see friends as often or don’t get to spend as much time with your children.

Even if you are dating again, Gary Lewandowski advises that you should mourn any changes to your life after a breakup. There will be some huge lifestyle shifts when you go through a divorce. Rebound sex or dating for a relationship may make you happy, but don’t push away any feelings. Instead, lean into your emotions to help you move on.

4.  Forgive yourself and your ex

Some divorcees get into a new relationships to help them detach themselves from their ex-partners. A survey by Stephanie S. Spielmann and Anne E. Wilson found that new romantic relationships disrupted the participants from the “longing for an ex-partner.” And while there’s nothing wrong with finding someone to spend time with. It may be difficult to overcome the feelings of anger or grief you have towards your ex.

Hilda Burke suggests you should forgive your ex-partner in order to move on. Otherwise, “the heartbreak and resentment is simply carted around like excess baggage to our next relationship or marriage. In order to genuinely move forward and create a new type of relationship, we need to learn from our past relationship experiences, of which there is no starker one than divorce.”

5.  Consider your next relationship

Couple holding hands on valentines evening in a restaurant

Whether you’re ready to commit to someone new or want to keep things casual, first map out what you are looking for in a partner. Consider what qualities of your previous relationship frustrated you and try to steer clear of dating people with similar traits. Likewise, identify the things you’ll need in your next partner so you will feel more fulfilled in your next relationship.

Make a list of the things you can and cannot live without, suggests Ann Rosen Spector, PhD. For example, if you have kids, does your next partner need to have children of their own? Or did having a joint bank account in your marriage create more stress? Then maybe you should consider dating someone who is financially independent. “It is helpful to have a general roadmap of what you want going into your next relationship so that you can ensure you’re getting what you need from it,” Spector added.

6.  Keep an open mind

You may have a list of qualities you are looking for in your next romantic partner, but you still have a type that you tend to look for. To keep history from repeating itself, try to avoid going for one type of romantic partner just because that’s what you sought in the past, says Kelly Campbell. If your ex-partner perfectly fits your type, then maybe your type isn’t the right match for you as you split up.

Lewandowski added that if you find yourself attracted to someone who is unlike anyone else you’ve ever dated, then go for it. It’s only natural that you change your mind after going through a divorce. What you once found attractive might not be what you want or need anymore.

7.  Be honest about your past

A divorce could mean you have children, that your ex is still in your life, or you have financial issues due to the cost of your divorce. So you should be upfront about your past marriage to a potential love interest. Otherwise, Evan Marc Katz says, it seems like you are ashamed and insecure about your life.

Don’t try to hide your divorce during the first date. If the conversation comes up, then be truthful. For example, maybe you moved to the area because your ex got a job there. Or perhaps it has the best schools for your kids. The truth will come out eventually, so it’s best not to waste your time and effort on someone who won’t date a divorcee.

8.  Go slow

It can be scary for a divorcee to trust someone again after a bad break-up. So when you’re ready to commit to someone don’t rush things. Instead, focus on building trust. Jones suggests, “Talk over the phone a lot and go on many dates that are different in type. By that, I mean different activities, opportunities to talk and get to know each other, and opportunities to see the person in different settings. Some dates should involve each other’s friends, too.”

Take all the time you need to work out if someone is the right person for you so you can build a solid foundation. And if you feel like you’ve jumped in too quickly, it’s fine to continue casually dating. Jeannine Lee points out that a relationship can work only if there “is an ongoing dialogue about fears, needs, wants, and expectations.”


9.  Trust yourself

If you feel like your date isn’t a good match for you, don’t stick around because you don’t want to be alone. You’re not only wasting your time, but you’re also getting your date’s hopes up. Instead, learn to trust your instincts and believe in yourself. You’ve already done the hard part by leaving your marriage. You know when to walk away from the wrong person and how to handle yourself.

If you decide to date during your divorce, do it carefully. You’ll know when it’s time to introduce your new partner to your children. Amy Morin says, “Spend at least 6 months getting to know someone before introducing them to your children. Introducing someone too soon can be confusing, anxiety-provoking, and troubling to children. Make sure that you know your boyfriend well and give him the chance to prove he’s in this for the long-haul before you bring him home to the kids.”

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