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Dating After a Divorce – How to Avoid the Most Common Mistakes

Sunday, 08 July 2012

ID-10044768Dating after a divorce may seem like the natural next-step, but unfortunately too many men and women make predictable mistakes.  Women typically wait too long to start dating and men start much too soon.  One reason for this is the lifestyle changes that are common to divorce – women take on a much larger share of responsibility and men find they have too much time on their hands.  It can also be said that women enjoy their newfound freedom from a relationship liberating, while men miss the conveniences of having a wife.

First let’s look at the guys –

Men, let’s face it.  You don’t really love being alone.  This may explain why guys are five times more likely to remarry within the first year after a divorce.  Before you get too impressed with their ability to find someone so quickly, remember that the woman they marry could be the same woman who they were sneaking around with before the divorce.  Overall, men seem to need marriage more than women.  Even widowers are ten times more likely than widow’s to remarry within a year of their spouse’s death.

Is there something inherently wrong with men who rush back to the altar?  Just like women, men need time to detach from their previous marriage and reflect on what went wrong.  Dating too soon means they will probably make the same mistakes in their next relationship.  In far too many cases, men find their egos are bruised after the breakup of their marriage and need a new woman to love them so they can regain their sense of self.  This is particularly true for men whose wife initiated the divorce (and, in fact, female-initiated filings account for 75 percent of all divorces.)

Why can’t a man stand alone?  This may apply more to an older generation of men, but by and large men don’t possess all the life skills they need to function without a spouse.  I’m referring to men who cannot cook or do a load of laundry, pay bills on time or organize their household.  Perhaps they went right from their parent’s house into a marriage and have always relied on women to do this work for them.  But rather than jumping right back into marriage, men would be better served by learning the basic “survival” skills they need and waiting a little longer for their next relationship.

And now the ladies…

Divorced women tend to have the opposite problem as men; they tend to spend too much time reflecting and mourning, or they tell themselves that now is not the right time for them to date.  I cannot tell you how many divorced women I know who have been “doing it all” on their own for three, five, seven, even ten years or more – without a single date.  It’s not that these women set out to be single for the rest of their lives; but they didn’t make dating a priority and their lives just got too busy for them to worry about it.

One of the more common excuses for delayed dating among women is their desire to separate raising children from having a relationship with a man.  When a woman is the primary caretaker, or custodian, of her children she faces overwhelming demands on her time, leaving very little to scout out a new man.  Add to that the guilt that a woman feels when anything steals her attention away from the kids.   Single moms work longer hours both at work and at home, so they feel guilty leaving the kids with a babysitter so they can “go out on a date,” and kids can be very sensitive about mom starting a new relationship.  Some might argue that these devoted mothers are smart to avoid dating until after the kids are grown, but I think it’s a big mistake.

The problem with delaying dating is that a woman gets too comfortable with being alone.  By the time she decides she is “ready “to start dating, she has too many negative attitudes about men and a diminished desire to start a new relationship.  After spending years doing everything with her children and her girlfriends, she might be less comfortable around men, or have a hard time opening up to a man sexually. After they reach a certain age, women can also get hung-up on their physical attributes, develop a fear of sex or worse yet, lose their desire for intimacy.

If you are recently divorced, try to avoid falling into one of these two camps.  The whole post-divorce dating universe would be much more balanced if men would just slow down and women would jump in faster.

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MPatMarrisonFor over a quarter century, we have helped people during what is often the darkest time in their lives. Divorce is not easy even under the best of circumstances. For most people, family is central. Having something go wrong in the family can have a ripple effect that extends beyond the home and into other areas.

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