I think you’ll fall into one of two camps when it comes to picking up the pieces when a marriage fails. You’ll either want some time alone, or you’ll be keen to find another human to share your life with. You could also get a dog, dogs are really great.
People talk a bit about dating post-divorce but the likelihood is, your next relationship will probably start before you’re legally single. This is how it was for me, and you’ll probably imagine people sucking in air and saying “that was quick”. But the only pace you need to worry about is your own.
For one thing, a lot of marriages end long before anyone talks about moving out or the legal aspect of the divorce. So if you find yourself in a relationship before, or not long after, you break the news to family and friends, about the end of the marriage and they are probably toasted with you, don’t be too surprised.
The pace is entirely for you to decide. But from experience, I can tell you that there’s a good chance the next relationship will have some elements of a rebound in them. Didn’t have much sex in your last relationship? Well, odds are you’ll be looking for someone with a big libido in your next.
And rebounds aren’t always short-lived things. You might find yourself walking into a really good relationship straight away. Of course, you’ll be lugging baggage, so keeping an eye on that is going to be a big part of the health of what comes next. But everyone who has ever loved has baggage, pretending you don’t is stupid and will get you nowhere fast. A good post-divorce relationship will need to be with someone who’s aware of your marriage and its failures because they’ll be able to spot trouble and take a measured approach. If your ex still hounds you, perhaps because you have kids together, your new partner is going to need some patience to tolerate that, and the impact it will have on you.
So is there any advice I can give? Yeah, plenty, but let’s stick to one thing that I consider important. You’re going to need space and time. So try and moderate both your feelings and how you act. You might come on a bit strong and throw yourself into your new relationship with considerable force. That’s got some upsides, but don’t forget you’re probably compensating too. I’d say, take the time to enjoy being alone. For some, that will be easy. For extroverts, you’re in for a fight. When I was newly single, I didn’t want to be alone for a second because I was running away from the pain. That worked for a while but it does catch you eventually and pain needs a pound of flesh from you at some point – you can somewhat control when it gets it, but often it’ll start cutting chunks out of you when the timing is bad.
In summary then: Listen to yourself, not anyone else. Force yourself to be calm and don’t throw everything into the next person. And most importantly, take time for contemplation and feeding the pain a little – it gets snacky, but you can manage it if you’re not always running.
Written by Simon Leverson