You file the divorce papers and you probably feel one of two things – I can’t wait to find someone else or I never want to be with another person as long as I live. 

This is completely normal!  It’s also not unusual for divorcees to vacillate between one extreme or another throughout their separation and the time following their divorce.

One of the biggest questions around this topic is related to timing.  When is it appropriate to start dating again? Or how will I know that I’m ready?

The answer varies from person to person, of course.  Only you can know when you’re ready to dive back into the dating pool. There will be new things to navigate that perhaps you haven’t thought about:

• Boundaries with your children and your dates
          -  Will you introduce them and if so, at what time is it appropriate?
          -  Does your custody agreement address these situations?
          -  Consult with your attorney on when you do and do not need to involve your ex 

• Getting comfortable with questions that may arise about your single status.
          -  Dates may ask you questions about why you’re single.
          -  Dates may want to know specifics on when you’re legally separated or divorced.
          -  Learning how to answer these questions with confidence and grace.

• Knowing when you are legally able to move into a new marriage, if it comes to that.
          -  If your divorce is drawn out, you may find yourself in a situation where you’re ready to                  move forward but legally cannot.
          -  Maintain civility with your ex and work to move things forward at a reasonable pace so                you are free to explore new relationships when you are ready.
          -  Communicate with your lawyer about your rights and any legalities that may                                  come up.

Dating after you've been married is often quite the learning experience and can take a bit of trial and error.  It will most likely include some good, bad, and ugly moments. 

Let’s start with the ugly: you may discover the other fish in the sea aren't quite what you hoped

It’s easy to get caught up in fantasies when you’re in an unhappy marriage.  Perhaps you daydreamed about meeting Prince Charming or the perfect new woman for you.  The right person for you is still out there, you just have to get readjusted to what it’s like to date. It’s possible that you've been married for 30 years and haven’t been on a date in even longer. It’s easy to build up expectations and let your mind run with them.  Remember that dating is a process that’s designed to help you get to know other individuals. Some of them you’ll never want to see again and others you’ll want to see what happens.  This is all just part of the process. 

And the bad: it will feel uncomfortable

Also part of the process is readjusting to those first date jitters.  If you've been with your previous partner for any length of time, you've most likely gotten comfortable with their personality or the dynamics of that relationship.  It can be an adjustment to put yourself out there again.  You can feel vulnerable opening up to new people and not knowing them as well as you knew your previous partner.  Remember again that it takes time. Much of dating is not only getting to know another person, but also getting to know yourself better and understanding what you’re looking for in a partner.  It will be uncomfortable until you adjust and get used to these feelings again.  

And finally, the very good news: you are free to rediscover who you are

The absolute best news is that dating will help you get more intimate with yourself.   You may even discover that you would rather be on your own for a while.  Take this time to rediscover who you are at this point in life. If you’re used to being someone’s partner, perhaps you highly identified with that role and you now have the opportunity to figure out who you are outside of that.  Dating will help you understand more about yourself and what you are truly looking for in that next partner.  This can be a truly fun experience!  

Only you will know what’s best for you.  Meet this new chapter in your life with a sense of adventure and openness to what’s waiting for you.