Being single and dating can be a challenge at any time in your life. Throw being a 24 year-old divorcee into the mix and you’ve got something beyond challenging. It’s what I can only describe as daunting.
When I got married at the ripe old age of 20, I never thought in a million years that I’d be where I am today. And thank God for that, because the in-between stuff was really hard, but I’m finally living my best life now. I never knew I could go through the gut-wrenching pain and disappointment of having my heart ripped out by the one person who vowed to love me forever AND come out on the other side happier.
There are so many layers to unravel within yourself post-divorce. The process is different for everyone and I’m here to give you some tips! All of it can apply to you. I don’t have all the answers and my journey is going to look different from yours, but we can be comrades in the process and cheer each other on!
Tip 1: Give yourself grace while learning to date again.
Divorce is hard. There’s no sugarcoating it. Whether the divorce was amicable or there was infidelity, it’s just one of the hardest things you’ll go through in life. I’m someone who’s very hard on myself. I’ve struggled my whole life striving to be perfect. It’s been a hard lesson to learn, but I’ve slowly begun to realize that I can’t possibly expect to be perfect in every situation—and neither can you! Allow yourself to be hurt, be mad (“snot-slinging angry,” as my counselor called it), or be whatever it is you need to be the moment you feel it. Then let it go. Or if you can’t, don’t sweat it. Just let yourself be. You’ll feel like yourself again, I promise.
Tip 2: Flattery will get you nowhere.
Flattery is tricky. Initially it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but it eventually leaves you feeling empty and wanting more. My best advice here is to avoid people that flatter you to get something from you. There’s a big difference between sincerity and flattery. You’ll have to use your gut on this one, because everything inside of you will want to feed off all the attention you’ll get from people. I had to learn to not take it to heart so much and be aware of how it affected me internally. Your value is not based on whether some guy or girl thinks you’re beautiful or handsome. Take the flattery with a grain of salt and seek those that are sincere. Seek those that have honest intentions and want to get to know you for who you are and not just for what you can do for them.
Tip 3: Everyone and their mom will have an opinion.
When I was in the middle of my pain, I was in counseling. It saved my life. I couldn’t have gotten through everything without this strong woman in my life who told me the truth. Instead of judging me when I made a mistake, she listened and offered some of the best wisdom I still carry with me today.
On the other hand, I had to learn to be selective about who I shared my experience with at the beginning. I realized very quickly that everyone had an opinion about what I should do or when I should or shouldn’t date again. This one time in particular comes to mind where I shared my story with someone that was only an acquaintance. That conversation left me reeling. I spent days confused and beating myself up.
When you start dating again, the journey you take to get there is up to you! No one else gets to decide that for you. Definitely have set people in your life that give you wisdom, but as you get beyond the hardest days, you’ll learn to trust yourself again. And as you heal, those conversations will affect you less and less. I share with others now because I want to help them with my story!
Tip 4: Trust isn’t built in a day.
Dating again means trusting again. I’d be lying if I said that trusting another person was the hardest part—trusting yourself again is a whole other story. It takes courage. I mean it! It takes courage to risk being hurt again. But it’s so worth it. In my situation, he made the decision to not choose me anymore. Now, I’m actually thankful for it, because I not only found that I can dig deep and be my own rock, but I also discovered that loving and being loved by someone doesn’t have to be complicated. I believe that all things work together for your good. And let me tell you, the good will outweigh all of the bad eventually.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to live life through a different perspective now. Dating will be different for you than it was before, but you can still allow yourself to see the blessing in it! You’re stronger and wiser than before. Go out there and love and be loved, my friend!