You’re finally on your own after a knock em’ down drag em out divorce. You wonder when is a good time to start dating after divorce. Well, there’s no perfect answer because everyone is different.

Dating therapy is real (at least in my world it was), and you need it.

Another thing about my favorite therapy— dating, is that you’ll learn a lot in the process

As soon as I was separated from my husband I was dating almost immediately.

It may not have been the healthiest thing to do in the world, but I did it anyway. I’m glad I’ve met so many amazing men in the past 10 years. They have all been critical to my inner growth.

When you meet someone new they are like a mirror to where you are…

When I was dating after my divorce, I started dating a man that worked with my best friend’s husband. He was in a dead-end job, but damn, was he a great kisser.

The chemistry (and maybe some wine) kind of got in the way of keeping my head on straight.

I’m thankful that I talked to my therapist before things got serious.

Then I went to the other kind of therapy divorced people go to . . .

The guy I started seeing was one of the kindest men I had ever met.

And thankfully I was going to therapy at the time, because I was  pretty hot mess.

As a side note, I was trying to prove to everyone that I wasn’t “crazy” for getting a divorce. Thus— weekly visits with my therapist.

That woman changed the way I saw the world.

Anyway, I told my therapist, Lynn, about my new boyfriend.

And she asked me if I had a list.

I had no idea what she was talking about.

She said something like, “You know, a list of all the traits you would like in a partner.” That was something new in my world at the time (if you can believe it).

I preach about having more than one list now

After being basically homeless for a few months, I finally had my own apartment. A new boyfriend, and a new list.

Wow. Making a list was eye-opening.

I wrote down about 40 things on that list of things I wanted in a partner.

I still have that list in an old journal, and I’m going to share it with you right now. And instead of dating one person at a time— more is sometimes better! 

Especially if you’ve been seeing someone who isn’t up to your standards.

Here’s my dating after divorce list of my (then) perfect partner

  1. Always kind to servers
  2. Responsible
  3. Motivated
  4. Good hygiene
  5. Good with my son
  6. Likes the beach
  7. Picks up the check
  8. Wants to spend time with me
  9. Washes the dishes
  10. Self-starter
  11. Wants to dance
  12. Not jealous of man friends
  13. Not jealous of woman friends
  14. Is a great kisser
  15. Loves foreplay
  16. Likes to read
  17. Likes to go hiking
  18. Into sustainable living
  19. Likes to be social
  20. Is genuinely nice
  21. Does things because he cares
  22. Is not pretentious
  23. Enjoys lots of music
  24. Is intellectually stimulating
  25. Is sexually stimulating
  26. Enjoys museums
  27. Likes to learn
  28. Likes gourmet food
  29. Wears decent clothes
  30. Likes to relax
  31. Doesn’t watch too much TV
  32. Likes to go to the movies
  33. Cares about people
  34. Treats everything with respect
  35. Has good credit
  36. Has a clean house
  37. Enjoys art
  38. Likes to go thrifting
  39. Says interesting and nice things
  40. Likes to have fun
  41. Isn’t always serious
  42. Is very spiritual
  43. Open to new ideas
  44. Doesn’t judge people
  45. Loves life
  46. Is natural
  47. Likes to be active and healthy
  48. Not a bullshitter
  49. He likes to touch my hair
  50. Likes my parents
  51. Likes the rest of my family
  52. Is environmentally conscious
  53. Non-smoker
  54. Social drinker
  55. Helps with cleanup naturally
  56. Is passionate
  57. Is not obsessed about any of the above

OK . . . I guess my dating after divorce list was closer to 60

Dang! My boyfriend at the time only had a few of my most wanted traits going for him.

He wasn’t the most ambitious man on the planet. He once said, “I can’t even get on welfare,” like that was the most terrible thing of the year. In my eyes, that was about one of the most terrible things I’d heard all year. I was trying to get back on my feet, not go back down the financial ladder.

My new flame wasn’t my new flame for long after I created the list.

He only had 7 out of 60ish traits I wanted in a partner. This was about 11% I believe. (I’m terrible in math so don’t hesitate to tell me it’s the wrong number).

There is one thing I know… 11% is not enough to keep me satisfied.

However, at that point in my life, I didn’t even know what I wanted until the day I left my therapist’s office and went to make my love map.

So it wasn’t too soon for me to start dating after divorce, I just needed to get more clear on what I wanted in a partner. Thanks for the clarity, old BF. I’ve never learned what I wanted so fast in my life.

When you’re dating after divorce every date won’t be perfect, and that’s perfectly normal.

I call dating after a breakup “dating therapy.” What I love about it is that you attract people that are in a similar space as you.

Like attracts like

So if you don’t have your act together yet— you’re going to meet that guy who doesn’t have a penny to his name like my first romantic partner after my breakup.

Getting divorced doesn’t mean that the world is over. In fact, you’re just getting started. Getting divorced is the beginning of your new incredible growth. This is the time you get to discover what makes you tick.

If you want to get ready for divorce, learn to trust yourself and your gut

If you’re ready to get out there, meet people and start dating, I say go for it. I did and loved every minute of it because of all the clarity I was given. But on the flipside, it’s also good to get to know yourself. But you can also do this in the company of others. This is how you learn about relationships even faster.

Even though you may make some stupid mistakes. Like falling for the wrong guy ( I’ve done this more than one time in my life, haha), or getting intimate too soon.

Or thinking that lust is love. Or thinking that it’s not so bad that he doesn’t take good care of his dog. That isn’t a good thing.

You’ll learn about your preferences through your dating experience.

So if you’re thinking about dating after divorce, and you think you want to date. Get out there and date.

Enjoy it. Embrace your life as it is now. Even though it’s different, it’s still part of your path, and you can have fun again.

You can even learn to love yourself more and allow yourself to open your heart again. Maybe not today, and perhaps not tomorrow— But someday. And Love can happen when you least expect it.