Dating as a single person can be complicated. Add a failed marriage into the mix and it is understandable many people feel differing emotions about dating after divorce. But just because you were once married, doesn't mean you need to cast yourself into a single-forever sentence.
A second chance at love
Dating after divorce is likely to be both an exciting and scary prospect but not an unusual one. In the UK, according to recent figures from the Office for National Statistics, more than 300 couples a day are getting divorced and 42% of marriages do not work, so it commonplace that people are looking at a second chance when it comes to finding long-lasting love.
Divorce rates vary throughout the world and in Asian countries, such as Singapore, there are far fewer divorces but they are on the rise. For example, in Singapore the divorce rate rose to an all-time high in 2014 and is only exceeded by South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Mainland China and Taiwan. In Hong Kong divorce rates increased fourfold between 1991 and 2013. Significantly in these countries a few decades ago a divorcee, especially a mum with children, would have trouble finding a new partner because of the social stigma attached to divorce. However, in Singapore at the start of 2014, one in five marriages had resulted in divorce, compared to one in eight in 2003, with the failure rate particularly acute in the 20s to 30s age group. It is widely accepted that the emergence of a more sophisticated lifestyle coupled with Western influences, better education and jobs and more tolerance of divorce itself means that people are less likely to stick in relationships they are not happy in. Also in Singapore law reforms means the getting a divorce is quicker and less costly then it once was.
Are you ready?
Everyone is different when it comes to feeling ready to date again after divorce and studies show that there is no predetermined time after a divorce or break-up before you feel ready to start dating again. While moving into another relationship quickly will short circuit the healing process, it is crucial to get the timing right. Don't date until your are ready because it if you are serious about finding love again, you need to understand the reasons your last relationship didn't work and to have grieved properly for it. Do you know the reasons it went wrong? What sort of person are you looking for now? Are there ways you might need to change your outlook? Are you looking for a life partner or just some company for now? Give yourself time to learn to be on your own before you think about dating again and don't be pressured by friends and family to "get back out there" until your feel you're able to let your guard down and really get to know new people without being distracted.
Feel the fear - and do it anyway!
Even if you are ready the thought of dating again is probably a terrifying one. It's worth remembering that first-date nerves are normal - and having dealt with a major upheaval in your life, you don't want to hit the dating scene all guns blazing. However, you won't meet someone new sitting on the sofa with your television on. Tell a few trusted friends you are thinking about dating again, sign up for online dating or accept invitations for parties. A great way to meet new people is by taking up a new hobby or doing what you love. Your odds of meeting someone who shares similar interest are high and you'll be putting your best side forwards.
When you head out on dates stay positive and treat it as an adventure and try to have fun. Dating is a numbers game, so try to not take dates that don't work personally. The more new people you meet, the more chance there is of you meeting someone you really like, so make time for dating by setting time aside every week. Be patient because it might take time, both for you to get into the swing of dating again and to meet someone who is right for you. Be honest about your divorce but try not to go into too much depth about your past romances and what went wrong.
Talk to your children
If you have kids at home it is important to tell them in an age-appropriate way that you are dating again. As a parent, you are now their model for what dating looks like, so tread with care but be upfront and respectful. Be very selective about who and when you introduce children to any new partners. Until you are properly committed to another person, it is better to keep new people out of sight. Talk to your children about how they feel about you dating again and work through any negative emotions. Remind them how much you love them and explain to them that they will always come first in your life. Be clear with them that no one will replace their other parent either. Move slowly when getting involved in serious relationships that will affect your children.
As a divorcee you will be older, wiser and more mature than when you last dated. Through experience you are more likely to know what you want and how to find it. Divorce is not a mistake anymore - it is very common, so think about everything you have learnt from it and view it as a positive when it comes to looking for new love. Everyone deserves to be happy so give yourself a pat on the back for every success and lesson learned.
Author: Brett Harding is the director of Lovestruck, a website dedicated to online dating and bringing people together