One of the biggest fears for divorced men and women is getting back into the dating scene and having sex. If you think about it, a recently divorced person hasn’t been on a first date in years — maybe even decades. Here are four ways dating and sex after divorce is different than before you were married.
1. You no longer look for a mate, you look for a soul mate
As a young person dating, I remember looking for that perfect mate, the one who was going to make a great dad, who would be a good co-provider financially, a person who was looking to embark on the same life journey as I was, and someone who would grow old with me. Now that that plan was shot to hell, what’s plan B?
I find that most divorced people are just looking for someone they like and nothing more. They’ve been so unhappy in their marriage for so long that just spending time with someone who makes them laugh, or who challenges them intellectually, or who makes them feel good about themselves is all they really want. There’s no clock ticking and no pressure to have children, and so there’s no rush to get married.
Many divorced people just enjoy that refreshing feeling of being happy, really connecting with someone, and perhaps, falling madly in love without worrying about how perfect or not perfect the person is for them.
2. You now have other people to consider: your kids
When people are young and single, the only responsibility they have is to get to their jobs every morning — and for even the hardest of workers, that still leaves time for socializing and dating. After a divorce, however, many people have a job and kids, which sometimes feels like there are no more slices in your pie for anything else. You can’t spend hours and hours on a date because you might have a babysitter at home, you can’t talk on the phone every night, and get-togethers are limited.
Also, kids can make or break a post-divorce romantic relationship. If your kids like your new boyfriend (or girlfriend), everything is wonderful. If they don’t, feelings get hurt and things can get complicated.
3. Mr. or Ms. Right looks a lot different then he or she used to
Believe it or not, there is a positive that comes from divorce: wisdom. Part of that wisdom involves having the insight while dating to look for qualities in someone you might have missed the first time around. In other words, what used to be important isn’t anymore, and what used to mean nothing now means the world.
So often, divorced men and women are looking for loyalty and trustworthiness, qualities that weren’t at the forefront when they were young and single. Superficial qualities like looks and charm aren’t at the top of the list anymore. I’m not saying you should date someone you don’t find attractive. I’m just saying that what’s in someone’s heart might be more important than how much hair is on their head!
4. Intimacy isn’t as easy as it once was
Divorced men and women are vulnerable, and perhaps have low self-esteem because they probably didn’t feel much self-worth during the last few months (or sometimes years) of their marriage. The cruel things that have been said, constant fighting, abandonment in some cases, and feelings of self-doubt can make an otherwise confident person temporarily become insecure and unsure of themselves.
That’s why sex after divorce is very scary for many men and women. Even just the thought of sleeping with someone new can cause anxiety, to the point that it can prevent a newly divorced person from dating. With time, however, along with healthy behavior, confidence and self-assurance returns, making dating and sex just as fun and enjoyable as it was as a younger person.
What hasn’t changed when it comes to sex and dating? The excitement and giddiness you get when you meet someone you adore, the hope and inspiration that envelops you when you know that person truly cares for you, and that feeling of true happiness when you realize you haven’t lost the ability to fall in love again, even after you’ve been hurt.
Next week: How’s your relationship with your ex? We thought so. Tips on how to talk to your ex for a more productive co-parenting relationship. If you have a divorce story to tell, a question or a piece of advice that might help others, feel free to reach out to Jackie@divorcedgirlsmiling.com