What if I Never Want to Date Again after Divorce?
- So you don’t want to date again
- What society says about singlehood
- Benefits of staying single
- How to be single and happy
As a sex and relationship coach, I see lots of clients who have recently divorced and have no idea if or when they should start dating. In fact, my Modern Dating class is full of people in that exact situation.
It’s easy to feel a little lost post-divorce, and that can make going along with mainstream expectations tempting. Unfortunately, society can be hopelessly couple-centric, leaving singletons feeling left out. But more and more people are choosing the single life, and studies are starting to provide evidence that single folks may be happier than their partnered counterparts.
Read on to figure out what to do if you feel like you may never want to date again.
So you don’t want to date again
When you’re fresh out of a long-term relationship, going on a date might be the last thing you want. And that’s perfectly understandable. Most people need a breather before diving into something new.
“One of the worst things you can do is start dating when you’re not really into it. You want to bring your best self to the table, and if you’re not at your best, and you’re not enthusiastic about meeting and dating people, what is the point?” says Erin Tillman, Dating Empowerment Coach.
The good news is that there’s no set timeline for dating after divorce, and that includes choosing to never date again. It’s important to give yourself plenty of time to feel confident about what you want – and to know you’re allowed to change your mind at any time.
What society says about singlehood
For a long time, being single was stigmatized. But attitudes are changing. Some studies are even beginning to show that single folks are happier than those who are partnered. (Well, single women, anyway.)
It’s important to tease apart the supposed intrinsic benefits of a relationship, including the benefits society gives to coupled status – such as tax breaks, healthcare, and even couples’ vacation packages.
Messages that imply we are simply half of a whole and require a partner for happiness are not only unsupported by fact, but they are also downright dangerous.
“If you are not already a happy person, don’t count on marriage to transform you into one. If you are already happy, don’t expect marriage to make you even happier … finally, if you are single and happy, do not fret that you will descend into despair if you dare to stay single. That’s not likely either,” says Bella DePaulo, Ph.D., in her book Singled Out.
Benefits of staying single
Staying single means having more time for yourself, whether that means focusing on self-care and healing, a career, or diving into projects and hobbies.
What’s more, over time, being part of a couple can lead to a degree of isolation. From counting on your partner for all of your socializing to having a small group of “couples’ friends,'' research has actually suggested that married people can become less connected to family and friends. Conversely, when you’re single, it can be easier to broaden your social horizons and spend time with a wider variety of people.
“People who live alone tend to spend more time socializing with friends and neighbors than people who are married. So one thing I learned is that living alone is not an entirely solitary experience. It’s generally a quite social one,” says Erik Klinenberg, author of Going Solo, in an interview with the Smithsonian.
And, thanks to social media, it’s also possible to reconnect with old friends and schoolmates you may have lost touch with.
Interested in peer support? Try Circles online and app support groups.
How to be single and happy
Whether you’re interested in dating again or not, it’s important to figure out how to be happy as a single person first. “Focusing on yourself and enjoying time with friends and family could be more fulfilling than trying to force yourself to meet new potential love interests,” says Tillman.
A few years ago, I took a solo weeklong trip to Paris and had an amazing time. Sure, it was annoying to dodge all the advertisements offering romantic getaways, but ultimately, traveling alone is a real treat. You don’t need to negotiate your agenda with anybody else, you can see only the sights you’re interested in and stay at each one exactly as long as you want, and it’s easy to make spur-of-the-moment changes to your plans. And, if you end up deciding a little company would be nice, you can always hop on a dating app while you’re on vacation. (Not dating doesn’t necessarily mean not having sex!)
But you don’t need international travel to enjoy the single life. You can simply revel in what it looks like to have things your way: home decor, favorite meals, the evening’s movie choice, whether you live with pets, etc. It can be refreshing to design the life that’s best for you from the ground up.