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Dating Smart After Divorce: Three Keys to Finding Your Way to Real and Lasting Love

Not surprisingly, smart dating after divorce requires a new approach. One that is reflective and thoughtful in a different way than you may have been before. It’s time to milk your marriage and divorce for information and take lessons from your experiences to make choices that work better for you. Sure, you can cast your net hoping for a good match based on chemistry. (How has that worked for you?) Or, you can seek to discern true compatibility on a deeper and more intentional level which also includes, but is not solely dependent on, chemistry.

While the right “timing” to start dating after divorce varies wildly by individual, thinking through these three things before wading back in to the dating pool can make all the difference in the success of your next relationship:

  • Decide WHAT You Want

Are you ready to embark on your next long-term relationship with an eye toward remarriage or do you simply want to find a dating buddy for some no-commitment fun? And, if you are ready for your next relationship adventure, what’s your vision of an ideal partnership? It’s worth taking some time to get clear on what you want and put words to it. While no relationship will be perfect, if you can articulate your relationship goals, you have a much greater chance of matching up with a like-minded person.

For example, here are my top five relationship goals:

1. We laugh together every day, we are playful with each other, we are serious about FUN!
2. We are each other’s biggest fan, we hold a loving space for each other
3. We each take active steps toward achieving our mutual and individual goals and dreams
4. We both look for the gifts and blessings in every life experience, even the challenges
5. We share an interest in deep conversations, having adventures, staying healthy, fit and active and showing up as a light in the world

Make a list of your relationship “top five” and, when you meet someone with potential, ask that person to share theirs. This is worth doing to find out if your relationship wants and values are a fit.

  • Decide WHO You Want

Like many of us, you may have chosen your Ex based on chemistry, physical attraction and the excitement that’s present in the initial stages of romance when everything feels amazing. Now, you know from experience that those things alone are not enough to create a wonderful and lasting relationship (this information is a gift). Use the knowledge you’ve gained to consider what qualities are important to you for the long haul.

I suggest making a list of relationship re­quirements for next time. This isn’t meant to be an impossible standard that no mere mortal can live up to. Instead, it’s a thoughtful examination of what qualities are most important to you, so you can recognize them when you see them, and when you don’t. The list should include your “non-negotiables” which are a handful of qualities that must be present in your next partner.

For me, a sense of humor, kindness and integrity are on my list of “must haves.” Also include the “nice to haves” such as mutual interest in learning new things or traveling. Again, you’re not going to find a perfect fit but, for example, knowing that dependability is one of your non-negotiables will help you weed out those who flake out on plans or do a disappearing act when you need emotional support.

  • Decide Who YOU Want to Be

Don’t wait to get into a relationship to live your best life. Be the kind of person that you’re looking for. The more you take care of yourself and become self-fulfilled, the more people will want to be with you.

—Make sure you’ve taken time to heal from your past relationship. That means it’s not first and foremost in your mind most of the time. You’ve forgiven yourself and your Ex, you recognize your role in what went wrong and you are learning from it. You’ve let go of the anger and bitterness so you can be fully present for your next partner.

—Make a list of your relationship assets—that is everything you are looking forward to giving, contributing and sharing with your next partner. This can include everything from your comforting bear hugs, to your ability to listen without judgment to your famous BBQ chicken.

—Love yourself and get comfortable in your own company. It’s much better to be moving toward something you want with intention rather than trying to get away from being alone. You choose from a much higher level when you aren’t trying to fill a gap in your life with a warm body.

Deb Purdy, is a transformation coach, speaker, workshop leader and author of
Something Gained: 7 Shifts to Be Stronger, Smarter and Happier After Divorce.

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