For so many years I have wanted to cover the rules the healthiest divorced men follow before they start dating again.
Why? Because of all the disastrous dates that I have gone on with men who were so not ready to start dating. They broke the rules, jumped the line, and made the lives of me and other women they dated miserable.
Dating after divorce is not easy and it definitely isn’t something that should be jumped back into thoughtlessly.
Post-divorce dating, like everything else in the world, is so much more effective with some pre-planning and rule following.
Based on my experience and the experiences of divorced men who wish they had done things differently before they started dating again, there are some guidelines to be followed.
Here are five rules divorced guys should follow, in order to get ready to date again
1. The ‘Two Year’ rule.
This is the one rule that the healthiest men follow before they start dating again. At first they yell at me about when I bring it up. “Wait two years before dating? Seriously? I am ready to date now.”
When we get divorced, we can find ourselves sad and lonely and the instinct to get right back out there into the dating world is very strong. This, so many of my healthy divorced men say, is a rule that they truly wish they had followed.
Divorce is traumatic. It is often caused by the slow death of a relationship that was founded on love. It can mean the death of the family. It can mean the destruction of family finances. It can cause depression and loss of self-esteem and worse.
Be honest. Would you want to date someone who was freshly divorced, shell shocked by what they had just gone through, wracked with guilt and with a low self-esteem? Someone who was drowning, looking for a life raft? Someone who wants you to right all the wrongs in their life.
I am guessing not. I wouldn’t.
It is essential that men follow the ‘Two Year’ rule before they start dating after a divorce. It is ideal that they wait 2 years before putting themselves out there for a new relationship. Over the course of that two years, men can have the time to recover from the divorce process, to get used to the new reality with their finances and their families.
They learn that it’s ok to be alone. They can take a good hard look at what they might have done differently in their marriage. They get the chance to mend the heart that was broken by their divorce so that it is whole and ready to let someone else in.
So, following the ‘Two Year’ rule will only set a man up to find a healthy relationship that might last a lifetime.
2. The ‘Go to Therapy’ rule.
I know, you want to skip over this one, don’t you? I mean, you are tough, you can get through this on your own. Right? Nope.
One of things about divorce is that none of us have been through it before (hopefully). As a result, we have very little idea of how to successfully navigate our way through it and come out the other side whole. That is why it is essential to get some help as your recover from your divorce, help from someone who knows all about divorce, someone who can help you process the destruction of your marriage.
Therapy isn’t just talking about your feelings. Therapy can involve looking at things that might be very important if you ever hope to have a successful relationship again. Therapy helps you understand what happened in your marriage. It can help you understand your role in what went wrong and take ownership where warranted.
You learn to let go of any residual pain and guide you in the most effective ways to open yourself back up again. I know that many men think that they don’t need to do this. Many believe that can just move on and find someone else and live happily ever after. But, for many of them, it is impossible.
I tell my male clients to look at therapy like they would career coaching. In career coaching, employees are given the opportunity to identify their strengths and weaknesses, to identify the cause and effect of both and to make a plan on how to improve their performance. In this vein, so can therapy after a divorce make a man ready to take on the dating world and do so in a way in which they will succeed.
Follow the ‘Go to Therapy’ rule. You, and your future partner — will be glad you did!
3. The ‘Get to Know Your Children’ rule.
Perhaps you might think that this rule is unnecessary but hear me out.
In most families, mothers play a central role in the family, being the chief cook, administrator and chauffeur. As a result, they often spend more time with their kids than their father does and they often know more about their behaviors, their inclinations and their friends.
This isn’t any fault of the fathers – it just is what it is.
It is essential that, before they set out into the world of dating, men follow the ‘Get to Know Your Children’ rule. Your children are going to come with you as you manage the wild world of dating and relationships and you want to be able to support them as you do.
One thing that I can say about my ex is that, when we got divorced, he stepped it up big time with our teenagers. It wasn’t like he didn’t know them or that they didn’t like him, he just didn’t know them like I did. Once I was out of the picture and not getting in the way, he set out to get to really know his kids. And they started feeling important to him in a way that they never had before.
As a result, when his new wife came along, they were more open to letting her into their lives. Furthermore, he had a better understanding of his kids and he knew how to help them navigate any issues that came up. Most importantly, they knew that he loved and prioritized them and that made all the difference in the world for them moving forward.
So, before you get out into the crazy world of dating, take some time and put your kids first. Get to know them, their friends, and their strengths and their weaknesses.
Help them navigate their post-divorce world. If you do, if they know that they can rely on you, when you bring a new person into the picture the chances of things going smoothly is greatly increased!
4. The ‘Get Healthy’ rule.
Ok — be honest. Have you fallen apart over the period of time since your divorce? Have you perhaps taken to eating more fast food? Or perhaps beer has become a new food group for you?
Have you had to spend more time with the kids then you did before and has your exercise routine fallen off a bit as a result? Are you tired because the stress of the divorce has led to you not sleeping well? Do you find that you sometimes wake up depressed and lonely and not sure about how to move forward with your day?
A very important rule the healthiest men follow before they start dating again is to get themselves healthy. To eat well and exercise and get enough sleep.
To learn how to work through the anxiety around being alone and to manage the depression that might have popped up during or after the divorce.
I know that those things aren’t always easy. Beer and take out with the guys is way easier then cooking for yourself and going for a run and figuring out how to manage your sleep and your moods.
But, getting physically and mentally healthy is essential before you venture out into the world of dating.
Why? Because you want to bring your ‘A’ game when you do so that you don’t waste your, or your date’s, time.
I mean, would you be interested in dating someone who seemed dull and lethargic. Who looked sallow from months of bad food, no sleep and no exercise? Would you want someone who needed to be with you always because they couldn’t handle being alone or someone who woke up each morning depressed?
Again, I am guessing not.
So, it is key that you follow the ‘Get Healthy rule’ before you start dating again. As you juggle your many dates, you will be happy that you have the energy to do so!
5. The ‘Know What You Want’ rule.
In this last rule you get to define what it is that you want going forward. Are you looking for a relationship or do you just want to date? Do you want someone who has been married before or are you ok with someone who hasn’t?
How about kids – would you want to date women who have them or are you ok with those who don’t? Do you want to date someone who wants to get married again or is that off the table for you?
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Much like with your work, it is important that you set goals for what you want out of your dating. Dating is hard work and you don’t want to waste anyone’s time.
I am not saying that you have to set your goals and stick to them religiously. I believe that online dating can be ineffective because we have to indicate our preferences and the algorithms then only find us people within our parameters. And that algorithm just might keep the perfect person from appearing in our inbox.
I do believe, however, that having some sense of what you want is a key part of going out into the dating world. That way, you know what you are looking for and that will help guide you in your search.
So, think about it. What do you want in your future relationships? If you have sense of what it might be you have a way better chance of finding it!
There you have it — five rules that the healthiest men follow before they start dating again.
So many men I know have regretted not following these rules.
They haven’t taken the time to heal, mentally and physically, to get to know their children, to work out what happened in their marriages.
Instead, they venture out into the world of dating and get into one disastrous relationship after another, making themselves, their relationship partners and their kids, miserable.
Don’t be one of those men. Follow these roles. Do your work for yourself and your future partner.
You will be happy you did!
MItzi Bockmann is a certified life and relationship coach. She shares her 10 years of experience with her clients through her coaching sessions, e-books, and online courses.