Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dating after divorce: 7 things to consider - Chicago Sun-Times

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Woman receiving gift from man in restaurant

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This year Hollywood has endured its share of divorces. Longtime loves Heidi Klum and Seal called it quits, as did singer Katy Perry and her husband Russell Brand. And, of course, Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise have made headlines across the world following their sudden split.

Dealing with such public scrutiny during this painful time is no doubt difficult, especially when it comes to issues involving dating and new partners. Seal recently attacked Heidi in the media for moving on with a new man, and Katy Perry underwent criticism after she was seen around town with heartthrob John Mayer.

Dating after divorce always is tricky, even if you aren’t in the pages of Us Weekly and In Touch. It can be hard to know when the time is right, especially if you have children and are navigating issues with your spouse. Here are some tips to consider when enduring this difficult time:

Take time to heal. Divorces are not uncommon, but that doesn’t mean that it is any less painful or heartbreaking when it occurs to you and your family.

You might feel pressure to go out and meet new people or instantly enjoy your singledom (some people even throw “divorce parties”), but your heart and your spirit might not be ready for that yet.

Make health and well-being a priority. Take time to heal and focus on positive self-care. Get into a healthy exercise routine, talk to a therapist, or focus on a project such as traveling or learning a new language. And, if you have kids, spend plenty of one-on-one time with them to help them feel secure and loved during this time.

Consider this equation: Divide the total length of your relationship by two. Then, use that number as guide for when you should consider committing to a serious relationship once again. For instance, if you were in a four-year marriage, consider waiting two years before making the leap into a serious relationship again. (If you were in a long-term relationship of more than eight years, you don’t need to wait more than four years unless you so desire. The number is only meant as guide; your heart will ultimately tell you whether you need to wait a little longer).

Beware of the rebound relationship. There’s nothing wrong with craving connection and intimacy with a new partner following your divorce, but it’s important to remember that your next partner (or date) following your divorce probably won’t be the one. Instead, it might be a rebound, but that doesn’t mean it also won’t be an eye-opening and fun way for you get back in the pool of dating and rediscover your romantic and even your sexual side.

Don’t bash your ex online. It’s natural to want to vent about your ex, especially if you are arguing over issues like infidelity or childcare. You might want to publicly scold him on your Facebook page or make ‘vague’ references to all the ways your ex has let you down. But resist the urge. Step away from the computer and call a loved one or turn to your journal and write about your feelings. Therapy can also be an invaluable tool in helping you to work through the anger and the hurt. Remember: The few moments of glee and adrenaline that you get from attacking your partner on Facebook and Twitter will pale in comparison to the pain it will cause your kids and your reputation.

Don’t compete. If your ex has a new partner, it can tempting to feel as though you have to “keep up” by landing a sexy new partner of your own. However, such competition is unhealthy: It will lead you to pick partners who might not be great choices, and it will intensify the resentment and tension between you and your partner. Let love happen naturally.

Don’t bring new partners around your kids too soon. It can be so exciting to find love again, especially if you endured months or even years of a difficult relationship with your ex. But that doesn’t mean that you should bring the new partner around too soon. It might feel like true love, but if your kids get attached to your new mate and then things go wrong, it can be hard for them to understand.

Dating after divorce can be hard and even a little awkward at first, but it also can be fun, exciting, passionate and life-affirming. Listen to your heart and take things slow: True love is out there, and you don’t have to rush it before you are ready.

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