When I left my 10 year marriage, it was a mix of exhaustion, excitement and insecurity. Online dating wasn’t even a thing before I got married! Whether you’re leaving a marriage or a long-term relationship, separating from a partner can bring up lots of feelings about our sexuality, bodies and self-esteem. Many of us disconnect from versions of our erotic selves while in relationships. We lose connection with what we want and how to receive pleasure. We might not feel comfortable to express our sexual selves in an authentic way, worry about being judged by our partners, lack skills communicating our desires, have body shame or have had long periods of unsatisfying sex (or even no sex).

What is the post-relationship dating world like?

Your journey into dating is a journey of rebuilding an erotic relationship to yourself. Many people leave long-term relationships and feel intimidated and excited by the idea of dating. When I got divorced and entered the dating world, I had a mix of worry and excitement. 

Things I was WORRIED about:

  • Would anyone want to date me?
  • What if I wasn’t turned on by anyone?
  • What if I misread a situation and get attached?
  • What if I don’t want monogamy?
  • What if everyone is only kinky and I just want to go on cute dates?
  • How will I handle giving/receiving rejection?
  • What makes a dating profile good?
  • What if I’m not good at sex?
  • What if people don’t like my body?

Things I was EXCITED about:

  • Having sex with someone that desired me
  • Having sex with people who I didn’t have an emotional history with
  • Having sex with other genders
  • Exploring kink
  • Dating multiple people simultaneously
  • Trying familiar things with unfamiliar people
  • Feeling attractive
  • Flirting
  • Experiencing connection and butterflies

It can be overwhelming trying to prepare yourself for entering the dating pool. Here are three essential things to know when diving back into the dating pool after divorce. 

1. Self-Discovery and Healing

After a divorce, taking time for self-discovery and healing is crucial before jumping into a new romantic chapter. Embrace this opportunity to reconnect with yourself, explore your desires, and celebrate your unique qualities. Explore both sexual and non-sexual pleasure - what are your hobbies? What turns you on? Reflect on your past experiences, the lessons learned, and the person you've become. When I separated from my ex-husband, I didn’t know what I liked anymore. I had fused into a couple and lost a sense of myself. I was always in compromise with or in deference to my relationship instead of myself. If you asked me what I needed - I’d just burst into tears and get choked up, because I really didn’t know and no one had really listened to my needs for a long time. 

Healing is not a linear journey, so allow yourself space to grieve, process, and grow. Remember, you deserve love and happiness, and it starts with loving and nurturing yourself. There are going to be on-going spots inside you that require continued maintenance and nurturance. This can be a time of great intentional transformation to move forward with new energy and space for self-love. 

2. Embrace Your Authenticity

As you venture into the dating world again, authenticity becomes your guiding sparkle. Getting back into the dating world means you can put your authentic intentions out there - forget who’s looking for you, what are YOU looking for? What would make dating successful and pleasurable for YOU? What experiences do you want to have? The year I was getting separated, I took burlesque classes with my BFF to get myself out of my comfort zone. I loved the bawdy attitudes, the over seduction and tease, and of course the bling. What I gained was permission to play. I learned to perform for the stage by playing with authentic parts of myself. I brought the moves into the bedroom, but more importantly - I brought the confidence I never knew I had in a way I didn’t know was possible. 

Embrace the real you—the quirks, the imperfections, and the beautiful complexities that make you unique. Let go of any pressure to conform to societal expectations or play a role that isn't true to who you are. Be unapologetically yourself, and remember that you are deserving of pleasure, just as you are. Authenticity attracts those who appreciate and adore you for who you truly are. If you are a brand of who you think people want, you’ll attract people who aren’t interested in the real you.

3. Open Communication and Boundaries

Dating after divorce can bring a whirlwind of emotions and vulnerabilities. That's why open communication and setting healthy boundaries are vital for navigating this new chapter. Be upfront about your expectations, desires, and concerns. Honesty is the foundation of trust, and it fosters deeper connections. At the same time, set clear boundaries that align with your values and comfort level. Remember, it's okay to take things at your own pace and prioritise your emotional well-being. Respect your boundaries, and expect others to do the same.

Boundaries can be emotional and physical. Make a list of things that would make dating safe, fun and relaxed. What emotional conditions need to be present in you? How does the other person need to behave? What sexual boundaries are important for you? Have you thought about barriers for safer sex? Many people choose to depend on the answers of their partner to make decisions about their sexual health. Instead, try choosing the barriers you want to use that you feel comfortable with instead of asking the other person only about their behaviour/testing. 

Notice what feelings are growing instead of where the relationship is going. Are you feeling more insecure? Confident and connected? Are there things you’re hesitant to ask for? Do you feel obligated? Do you have expectations? Do you feel comfortable speaking up for yourself?

Dating after divorce is an adventure filled with excitement, self-discovery, and new connections. Embrace this next phase with a playful energy and the ability to observe yourself and notice what pleasure is growing and what is not. Take the time to go slowly and experiment with what works for you. It’s easy to get into a dating frenzy, so be sure to keep up the other connections of love and fun in your life too. Staying curious can help you find pleasure possibilities you didn’t know existed!



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