What Are Your Post-Divorce Deal-Breakers?

Your marriage ended, and it was a painful ordeal. You worked through the painstaking emotional and financial details and took an objective look at what your marriage was … and wasn’t. Divorce is never pleasant, but it offers some helpful lessons about what you want for your future relationships, including your personal boundaries and what a healthy relationship means to you.

Are you ready for a new relationship?

After your divorce, you may yearn for a fresh start. You may crave the things you enjoyed as a couple when your marriage was happy. For example, you might miss the small interactions that made being married feel like home. At the end of a long day, you may wish you could share that day with someone. 

But due to the heaviness of divorce, you need time to grieve and heal before you can effectively let it go and move on. Don’t drop your divorce baggage at someone else’s door. The last thing you want to bring to a new relationship is the specter of your ex. First, give yourself the alone time you need to process what has happened. What is your comfort level in a dating situation? Have you moved beyond your residual anger and unhappiness to truly enjoy something new?

Read: How to Move Past Anger and Stop Playing the Blame Game

What are you looking for in a partner?

Although a new long-term relationship may not be on your mind just yet, you’ll want to consider what you’re willing to spend your time on, even if it’s just casual dating. If you’re returning to dating after a long dry spell, you could easily get swept away in the moment if you haven’t given yourself a good reality check first. 

What things did your marriage lack that were your main sticking points? Was it emotional maturity? Effective communication? Was your ex disrespectful of your personal space or insensitive to your needs? Did the two of you allow unhealthy boundaries to rule your marriage?

Even if someone shows up having all your “must haves,” this can in itself be a red flag. If it feels too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your gut, and listen carefully. Promise yourself that you will walk away unless you can trust that a new relationship will thoroughly enhance your life. 

Questions to ask yourself about a potential partner

When you do connect with someone who has long-term potential, it can be exciting. But before you commit, put aside the exhilaration long enough to make sure it’s a good fit. Unfortunately, more second and third marriages end in divorce than first ones. You’ve been through that already, and you don’t want to find yourself in divorce court again. This ought to be enough to make you very discerning this time around. 

Do we want the same things?

We often seek out people who are different from us to make up for some of our own inadequacies. While that can work, we also want someone with the same underlying goals and values. 

Let’s say that you’re a homebody, but your new person loves the nightlife. You prefer small groups, but your new person loves the energy of big crowds. This can be a lot of fun at first, especially if you’ve kept a low profile after your divorce. But it could prove to be exhausting and even destructive in a long-term relationship. If the two of you differ in personality, make sure there is still mutual respect — you understand your partner’s boundaries, and they understand yours.

Do you trust this person?

Trust and honest communication are integral to a good relationship. You may be tempted to give them the benefit of the doubt if something small arises that they haven’t been totally honest about. You may even find yourself justifying why they did it. But pay attention to how they interact with others. How honest are they when they meet people? Do they resort to “white lies” when they want to get out of something? Do they constantly stretch the truth when they’re talking to friends and loved ones? Chances are, if they aren’t honest and above board with others, they won’t be with you. 

Do you accept them as they are?

You love being with them – except. Except for the way they get loud after a couple of drinks. Or how they talk about or treat certain people. Or how their jokes are often at the expense of your mental health. Or how they want sex or other physical intimacy at all the wrong times.

These may seem like little things, but little things can grow big after a while. The older we get, the less likely we are to change. If you’re entering a relationship thinking you’ll be able to change certain things about a person, think again. 

What is their history?

While history is history, it can and often does repeat itself. Your new person’s history can give you some insight into that possibility. Do they have a history of infidelity? Lying? Substance abuse? Gambling addiction? A former habit may not be an issue in the present, but consider how it may pop up if they are triggered in the future. Is this something you want in your life?

Will they be a good fit with your kids?

This is a biggie. Even if your kids are older and on their own, they are your family. And you want to be able to stitch a happy family together, including your new person. If your kids are small, their well-being is one of the most important things to consider regarding your new relationship. But even if they are grown adults with families of their own, you will still be spending holidays, vacations, and birthdays together. Choose wisely. 

Abuse: Always a deal-breaker

This should go without saying, but it’s an immediate deal-breaker if your new relationship turns abusive. The thing is, intimate partners don’t become outright abusive until you are already in the thick of a relationship. Even if your new person is not abusive immediately, they may exhibit signs of potential abusive behavior, such as the following:

  • Asking where you have been or who you have been with when you’re not together
  • Wanting to control what you wear or how you look
  • Acting suspicious of you or others
  • Acting impulsively and unable to control anger responses
  • Acting aggressively after a relatively minor incident
  • Lacking friends and not wanting to meet or do things with your friends
  • Believing in strict gender roles

Remember, you are better than this and deserve more. 

Read: What Domestic Abuse Victims Need to Know

Dating after divorce can be exciting, intimidating, scary, or downright terrifying. You’re not alone. Everyone is a bit timid about getting back into the dating scene after a divorce or the end of a long-term relationship. But remember: Your wellness should be your top goal. 

Divorce is not just filing legal paperwork with the court, it is an entire life transition. Here at Hello Divorce, we are here to support you before, during, and after your divorce so you can look forward to the best future possible. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, or call us to see how we can help. 


Suggested: 5 Ways to Reclaim Your True Self and Identity after Divorce 

Divorce Content Specialist
Mediation, Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Mental Health
Candice is a former paralegal and has spent the last 16 years in the digital landscape, writing website content, blog posts, and articles for the legal industry. Now, at Hello Divorce, she is helping demystify the complex legal and emotional world of divorce. Away from the keyboard, she’s a devoted wife, mom, and grandmother to two awesome granddaughters who are already forces to be reckoned with. Based in Florida, she’s an avid traveler, painter, ceramic artist, and self-avowed bookish nerd.