In a couple of recent mediations, the issue of dating has come up, and my clients asked me to do a blog post on dating after divorce. Here it is:
1. Take plenty of time to grieve the end of your marriage and to heal. How long this process will take will vary from person to person. Take an indefinite period to think about and to process what happened in your marriage. Think about what you want and do not want in the next relationship, Do what you love to do and explore life on your own terms. Date yourself. Spend time with people who make you laugh and inspire you.
2. Be optimistic and open about the idea of love. There is no room for negative thinking or self doubt. You are more resilient than you think you are. Reframe the notion of dating as a way to meet new people, network, and get out of your comfort zone. Go to groups and events where you can meet people who have similar interests.
3. If you are a candidate for spousal support, hold off on dating until your divorce is final. You could be barred from receiving any spousal support or alimony under the Virginia statute which provides in part that adultery (which would include post separation sex) is a bar to alimony -- unless you can show that manifest injustice would result.
4. You might want to try online dating. When you are ready to date, there are lots of different dating websites, and online dating may be a good way to go out and meet new people.
5. Make time for yourself. Many of us are busy navigating the daily challenges of working, grocery shopping, preparing meals, trying to exercise, and driving carpools to kids' sports and activities, among many other duties, responsibilities and worries. Schedule time for some fun for yourself too. If you have kids, a happy parent often means happy children.
Ellice Halpern, J.D., is a Virginia Supreme Court certified general and family mediator.