By Tina L. Jones
Do you struggle with the concept of dating after divorce? Will you ever get past the pain of a previous relationship and feel comfortable in a new relationship? What about your children – is it bad for them to see you date? With the divorce rate hovering at 50%, millions of women struggle with the issue of reclaiming a dating life for themselves after getting divorced. Particularly when there are children involved, the thought of dating again seems to be a dangerous proposition. But by considering the following questions, you may find that dating after divorce becomes much easier to do over time.
Why do I feel guilty about dating after divorce?
Whatever the reason your marriage broke up, you or your partner initiated a divorce, and now, hopefully, you’re both ready to move on. But old behavioral patterns die hard, and for someone who spent years in a committed relationship, it may be difficult for you to date without it somehow feeling like a betrayal. Understanding that what’s in your head and in your heart are two different things, so do some reality-checking from time to time. Remind yourself that you are entitled to a blank slate in a new dating situation, and that it’s okay to flirt and even be intimate, once you’re emotionally ready to do so. Until you do feel ready, take any new relationship slowly.
Why do I keep picking the same guy in every relationship?
Do you ever feel like you’re in the middle of a remake of Groundhog Day? Most people have a tendency to repeat the same patterns of behavior and make the same choices throughout life. Don’t be surprised if every guy you date starts to remind you of your ex-husband! That feeling is natural. We do tend to be attracted to the same physical type, as well as people with similar interests and temperament. Treat any relationship in your life as what psychologists call a “corrective” one: learn from both its mistakes and its successes. If your husband had a bad temper, for example, that should be a warning signal to you in future relationships. But if your husband had a great sense of humor that got you through some difficult times in the past, then you’ve learned to value that in a relationship.
How do I help my children deal with my dating after divorce?
One of the biggest struggles for newly divorced women when they begin dating after divorce is: what about the children? The good news is that you don’t have to automatically choose between your children and a love life. The sobering news is that, when children are involved, you must be especially careful before you thrust someone new into their life. Always give any relationship a long warming-up period, both for your children’s sake and your own. Until you know that you want to date someone regularly, arrange the first few dates away from home – and under no circumstances have him sleep over! Only after you are sure that you are comfortable with him should you start introducing him slowly into your children’s lives. If the relationship gets serious, you’ll want to see this guy in a variety of settings with you and your children, to make sure that he is potential step-father material — even if neither of you is ready yet for that next step. But having your children see you in a positive relationship can be a healing experience for them as well.
Dating after divorce is never easy, particularly when the decisions you make can have a direct bearing upon your children’s lives. But by asking yourself the right questions and being willing to follow expert advice, you will find that life can be fun again – and even romantic!
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