Love after divorce: 20 myths debunked

It’s a hard pill to swallow. The life you built with your ex-spouse has come crashing down, and now you’re picking up the pieces. When you finally feel ready to move on and date again, everyone in your life will have an opinion on how you should go about it. Here’s a tip: don’t believe everything you hear.

By Charlotte Grainger, Espresso

It’s a hard pill to swallow. The life you built with your ex-spouse has come crashing down, and now you’re picking up the pieces. When you finally feel ready to move on and date again, everyone in your life will have an opinion on how you should go about it. Here’s a tip: don’t believe everything you hear. Let’s take a look at the most common myths about finding love after divorce.

You should dive in and start dating right away

Looking for love after divorce? You might want to take it slow. “Rushing straight into another relationship is probably not a good idea, particularly if you haven’t processed what went wrong with the relationship you’re leaving,” says couples therapist Geoff Lamb, co-founder of the UK Centre for Psychosexual Therapy and a member of the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT). In other words, give yourself time to heal first.

You have to date after your divorce

Spoiler alert: you don’t have to date at all if you don’t want to. “I think it would be good to think really carefully about what is motivating you to date again,” says Lamb. If you’re trying to find love after divorce simply because you think other people expect you to, you’re dating for all the wrong reasons. Think about what you really want.

You can ignore the issues you’ve had in the past

You may be eager to move on with your life, but it could be useful to examine why your marriage broke down. “We have to look at ourselves and say, ‘What was my part in this?’” says Lamb. “If we can do that and do it honestly, then we can get ready to go into a new relationship.”

You will feel completely confident right away

Let’s be honest—your confidence has likely taken a hit. “Most people would have found separation and divorce damaging to their own self-esteem,” says Lamb. “There could be feelings of rejection that you’re bringing with you from the first relationship. Be aware of those feelings and don’t take it personally.”

You need a partner to boost your self-esteem

Are you looking for love after divorce to boost your self-esteem? “Try not to get into a situation where you’re dependent on a man or woman to make you feel good about yourself,” says Lamb. “If you go into the relationship from that perspective, you’re always going to be in a dependent position.”

You will find it hard to be happy again

Despite how shaken you may be feeling, evidence suggests that you could actually end up happier after your divorce. Research from Kingston University suggests that women in particular find that they are happier and more satisfied with their lives when their marriage ends. Take a beat and consider how you’re feeling before you date.

Meeting someone new will be tricky

Ready to spark a new flame? “I think many people have the preconceived notion that it is difficult to meet someone after a divorce,” says Cate Mackenzie, a psychosexual therapist, couples counsellor, love coach, and COSRT member. “But, actually, if people are prepared to get out there again and do some work on themselves, they could meet someone compatible with this new era of their life.”

You have to take dating seriously

Regardless of your age, dating should be a fun experience. “After a divorce, things can feel very heavy and hard to deal with,” explains Mackenzie. “You’ve just gone through an immensely challenging life event. It could be great to lighten up and try to have more fun in your personal life. If you do that, you may find that you attract the right type of person.”

Your next partner will be perfect

After the disappointment of a divorce, you might be dead-set on making your next relationship perfect. Sadly, setting insanely high expectations is a recipe for disaster. “If we imagine that our life partner is going to fulfil all of our expectations, often we’re disappointed by that because no human being can do that,” says Lamb.

You can prove your ex was wrong to leave

According to research from AARP, one major reason that some divorcees are so eager to date is to prove to their exes that they have moved on. However, this is shaky ground on which to base any romance. “Going out and looking for a relationship to prove that your partner was a fool for leaving you means that the resulting relationship is going to be pretty fragile,” explains Lamb.

Your new love will be nothing like your ex

It’s easy to believe that anyone with even the slightest similarity to your ex would be out of the question, but we all have a type. “One of the things I find quite often is that in some uncanny way that—even though we think we’re choosing someone completely different to the person who we left—we do end up choosing someone who we end up relating to in a similar way,” says Lamb.

You can move on without expert help

Before finding someone new, you might have to take a hard look at yourself. “Have you let go of your previous relationship?” asks Mackenzie. “It’s worth doing some counselling or coaching to make sure you have cleared the past and let go of any hurt in order to start anew if you are finding it hard to trust again.”

Your friends have the best relationship advice

Do you always turn to your nearest and dearest for relationship advice? You may be better off looking elsewhere. “Family and friends can be useful, depending on the relationship you have with them,” says Lamb. “But there is a tendency for them to tell you what you want to hear. They’re not going to be objective.”

You should jump into bed with someone new

You might be eager to move on and find love after divorce, but sleeping with someone new is a huge step. “The thing would be around consent,” says Lamb. “Trust your own feelings. If you like somebody and it feels right to you, fine. If it stops feeling right, no is no.”

The dating world has changed, and so should you!

The world of dating has evolved in recent years, but that doesn’t mean you have to drop your standards. “The fear could be about what’s expected, what you’re expected to do on a first date,” says Lamb. “That would probably have changed over the decades. My advice to somebody would be to only do what you’re comfortable with.”

It will be easy to trust your next partner

Are you having trust issues? “It does depend on the divorce, but often people come out feeling quite bruised and battered,” explains Lamb. “The situation is very adversarial. You might be feeling quite suspicious and find it hard to trust people, and that’s not a good way to go into a relationship.”

Your children aren’t part of the equation

If you have kids from your previous marriage, you need to factor them into your romantic decisions. “It’s realistic that, if you’re getting involved with a man or woman with children, you should know what you’re taking on,” says Lamb. Talk to prospective partners about this situation and be as clear as possible about what you expect of them.

You can keep your ex-spouse out of it

If you were lucky enough to have had a clean break from your ex-spouse, you might not need to worry. For many, however, it’s not that simple. “If there are children involved, you will be meeting with your ex around the issues of child care and swap-overs,” says Lamb. “That relationship will exist, and that has to be recognized.”

You have to remarry after your divorce

If you do meet someone new, you may be tempted to pop the question as soon as possible. However, before you go running to the altar again, you should consider whether you’re truly ready to make that commitment a second time. A massive 60 per cent of people who remarry get divorced again. Don’t take the decision lightly.

You don’t deserve to love again

Regardless of how difficult it is, you have to believe that you are worthy of finding love again. “If you are looking for love after a divorce, my advice would be to remember that you deserve to have some fun again,” says Mackenzie. “Make sure you take care of yourself, put your own needs first, and go and have some fun!”


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Love Magazine: Love after divorce: 20 myths debunked
Love after divorce: 20 myths debunked
It’s a hard pill to swallow. The life you built with your ex-spouse has come crashing down, and now you’re picking up the pieces. When you finally feel ready to move on and date again, everyone in your life will have an opinion on how you should go about it. Here’s a tip: don’t believe everything you hear.
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