How Long should a Man Wait to Date After Divorce?

Waiting to Date After Divorce

You survived the separation and your divorce is finally on the books.  At last, you’re off the emotional roller-coaster and can focus on the next stage of your life.  A great first step toward a new beginning is to do a little dating.

But is dating something you should even consider right after your divorce?  How long should you wait to date after your divorce or separation?

I’ll answer those questions and more in this in-depth analysis of post-divorce dating.  Are you truly ready to date?

How long should you wait to date?  The math is fuzzy

Formula for datingI’d love to give you a proven formula that tells you precisely how long you should wait to date after divorce.  Unfortunately, such a formula doesn’t exist.

Some men are emotionally ready to start dating during their separation period.  Other men avoid dating for years after their divorce because they haven’t fully processed the grief resulting from a failed marriage.

Shouldn’t men ‘get over’ their divorce much faster than women?

Man Recovering From DivorceWomen are emotional creatures.  As such, people naturally assume that women take longer to recover emotionally from a divorce than men.  But this is not the case.

Recent research has shown that men grieve longer than women.  Two years after their divorce, 41% of men were still sad about their divorce compared to only 33% of women.

What factors determine how long you should wait?

While there is no magic formula to determine when you should start dating, there are some well-accepted guidelines to aid in making this determination.  Let’s review some circumstances which would indicate you need to wait to start dating.

5 warning signs that you should wait to start dating

Warning Sign for DatingStatistics tell us that most men need at least some time to recover from the emotional toll of divorce.  Regardless of how amicable your divorce turned out, there is usually an adjustment period where you acclimate to your new life as a single man.

Your emotional state during this adjustment people is likely to be fragile.  Consequently, this time is best spend getting your life back in order both physically and mentally.

Men who insist on dating during this tumultuous period rarely have success.  Having not had time to care for their own well-being, they surely aren’t equipped to care for someone else as well.  If you choose to start dating too soon after your own divorce, the five circumstances described next might apply to you.

1.  You spend considerable time thinking about your ex-wife

Man Thinking About Ex-WifeMaybe you spend a lot of time wondering what your ex-wife is doing with her new life.  It could be that you finding yourself looking at her social media accounts to see if she’s dating anyone.

In either case, it’s obvious that you aren’t quite over your ex-wife.

There’s no reason to be embarrassed about missing your partner.  It’s actually very normal.  Experts say it sometimes takes as long as 50% of the length of your relationship to completely get over your ex.

Tips to help getting over your ex

To help yourself get over the psychological hurdle of a failed marriage, try some of the following remedies:

  1.  Keep yourself busy with hobbies or social activities.
  2.  Keep all communication with your ex-wife to a minimum.  Consider it a business relationship moving forward.
  3.  If you must think about your marriage, focus on what you gained from the experience.
  4.  Accept you may never be completely healed, but life will go on.
  5. Revel in your alone time and use it to jump start home or self-improvement projects.

Moving past any long-term relationship is rarely easy, but it’s a must if you ever want to pursue a healthy, meaningful relationship with a new woman.

2.  You’re using dating to make a point to your ex-wife

Man Taunting Ex-WifeIf you’re considering dating just to prove a point to your ex-wife, you haven’t recovered enough to date.  The whole point of divorce is to end the petty battles that plague many unsuccessful marriages.

If your wife were to hear or see that you’re strutting around with a new girl on your arm, maybe it would prove to her that there is someone out there who appreciates you.  But even if you get some temporary satisfaction from proving her wrong, in the end it will only further complicate your relationship going forward.

Channel your frustration toward more effective goals

If you do feel you have something to prove, channel that energy toward self-improvement and stop looking in the rear-view mirror.  Use your negative experiences as motivation for achieving personal success going forward.

Not sure where to get started?  Check out this awesome list of self-improvement blogs for men.

When you’re certain that your motives are well-intentioned, you’re probably ready to giving dating a try.

3.  You’re still living as though you are married

Divorced Man Acting as Though He's MarriedYou’re still sporting the haircut she liked.  You still wear her favorite cologne.  You’re socializing with the same mutual friends.  Sound familiar?

If stepping out of your comfort zone is still a challenge, it might be best to postpone dating for a bit.  After a failed marriage it takes time to lose your old habits, re-establish your identity, and embrace your new but unfamiliar life.

Dedicate at least a few months to reclaiming your individuality.  For me this meant reconnecting with old friends, splurging on a new wardrobe, and taking some martial arts classes.

I also used my newfound free time to do things I’d been been wanting to do, but could never fit into my busy schedule.  This included activities like learning to play guitar and improving my poker game.  Use this reinvention cheat sheet to get some ideas for discovering a new you.

Once you’re completely comfortable in your new skin, moving on to dating will be natural progression.

4.  You’re struggling with being alone

Man Alone After DivorceThe loneliness that accompanies a separation and divorce can be crippling.  I can still remember my first weekend away from my wife and kids.  It was extraordinarily depressing.  Moving from a noise-filled house to an empty condo where I could heard a pin drop was quite a shock.

Before you start dating, it’s important to be content with your new living arrangement, whatever that may be.  Instead of approaching everything as a team, you must get used to flying completely solo.  Get your own house in order (literally and figuratively) before you consider pulling a new woman into your world.

Lean on friend and family when renewing your social life

If you’re having trouble adjusting to living alone, moping around the house feeling sorry for yourself will only make things worse.  Gradually wade back into the social scene by going out with friends or family.

When you’ve come to terms with your life as a single bachelor, tip your toe back into the dating world.

5.  You haven’t recovered financially from your divorce

Money After DivorceIt took me quite awhile to begin recovering financially after my separation.  To be honest, it’s something that I struggle with to this day.  And if I had to guess, I’d say the majority of divorced men actually have it much worse than I do.

I’ve made some important strides.  After a year of significant downsizing, I’m finally back to balancing a budget each month.  I’m taking care of the essentials, but still haven’t met some important goals such as contributing to my kids’ college funds and maxing-out my 401K match at work.

There is still a lot of work to do.

When are you financially stable enough to date?

I’ve done some selective casual dating since I was able to get my monthly budget under control.  But I’m purposefully avoiding frequent dating until I reach my last few financial goals.

Reaching all of my short-term financial goals will require earning more money.  Earning more money means working more hours and spending more time learning new skills.  This obviously leaves little time for meeting new women and dating.

Once you’ve got your head above water financially, there is nothing wrong with doing a little dating after your divorce.  However, achieving your financial goals should trump relationship-building, especially if you have children.

Are you truly ready to start dating?

Being ready to date after divorce is more about minimizing the factors that have been proven to prevent men from having success after a long relationship.  How long you should wait to start dating after divorce depends entirely on how long it takes you to become secure in your state of mind, post-divorce lifestyle, and finances.

Identify the things that you need to do to confidently re-enter the dating world.  Then, get to work.

For me this meant

  1. Adjusting to life as a single parent
  2. Balancing my monthly budget.
  3. Getting myself back into shape physically
  4. Re-discovering my individuality.

A year after my divorce, I’m comfortable with occasional, casual dating.  In another year or so, I may be ready for something more serious.

But I’m certain that when I do decide to seek something more meaningful, I’ll be financially and emotionally equipped to handle any direction the relationship might lead.  My house will be in order.

How long did you wait to start dating after your divorce?  Did your level of success increase as time went on?  Tell me about it in the comments below.

About the Author Brad Pinch

Brad is a divorced father of two who is navigating the brave new world of dating after divorce. A software developer by trade, he experiments with the latest dating applications and tools so that you don’t have to. Brad writes online dating reviews along with other actionable content for men to improve their quality of life after divorce.

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