What if I Never Want to Date Again after Divorce?

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

Is it okay to have no interest in dating again?

TL; DR: Yes. You make your own rules.

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. 

While rebound relationships (dating someone immediately after a break-up) tend to have a positive impact on immediate mental health (a confidence boost, reminding you that you are still attractive, etc.), they only have a positive effect on those who are truly ready.

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 being single or divorced

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. (Women show the most noticeable improvement in life satisfaction after divorcing a high-conflict spouse. Read more in this study.)

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 after divorce

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 most if not all of your socializing to having a small group of “couples’ friends,'' research has suggested that after marriage, spouses 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, often simply out of necessity. 

“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. 

Using social media to maintain or expand social connections

Social media can help you forge strong social connections without the pressure and possible awkwardness of in-person social scenarios, especially if you are trying to reconnect or make new friends. Here are some tips on leveraging technology like social media to boost your social well-being:

Join new social media platforms and online communities

Seek out social media platforms that align with your interests and goals. Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit are good places to find interest groups. LinkedIn can connect you to others in your field of work or advocacy groups. Do a web search to find specialized communities and forums related to hobbies or professional interests – you may even find some hybrid online/in-person groups.

Connect with peers who share similar interests

Find someone you admire, relate to, or want to get to know better. Follow them. Send a direct message when you have something specific in common. Reply to their post in the comments section. Sometimes these connections can lead to close friendships.

Participate actively, adhering to community guidelines

It’s unlikely you’ll make connections the first few times you engage with a new online connection or group. Stay active by liking, commenting, and sharing content that resonates with you. Share your thoughts, experiences, and interests to initiate conversations and interactions. And stay positive – you want healthy connections, not pity-party companions or toxic personalities.

Attend virtual events

Sign up for and attend live workshops, webinars, and online classes. These events provide opportunities to learn, network, and connect with new people who share common interests. They often feature participate chat, so you may be able to directly message someone you have a lot in common with.

Use messaging and video calls

Once you meet new online friends or if you have friends or family that are difficult to see in person, you can connect via instant message, text, email, and audio or video calls. Technology makes it easy to stay in touch, and have virtual meetups, coffee dates, or game nights – no matter where you are.

Set healthy boundaries

Of course, there are plenty of trolls and other negative people online, and any relationship can sour once you get to know each other better. It’s important to set boundaries around your social media usage to prevent overwhelm or burnout. There’s no substitute for in-person connections (hugs, exchanging physical energy, seeing all the non-verbal cues). Balance your online interactions with offline activities, self-care, and hobbies.

Consider dating apps and platforms

If you're interested in dating, consider using dating apps and platforms to meet new people and explore potential connections. Online dating is the new norm, and the stigma attached to it is almost nonexistent. 

Tip: Use safety precautions and trust your instincts when interacting with strangers online. If you do end up meeting someone in person, do so in a public place and tell a trusted friend or family member about your meeting. Better yet, make it a group setting.

Get emotional support

If you’re struggling or simply need someone to vent to, you can join online support groups (like Circles), communities, or forums related to mental health and wellness. Here, you can engage in discussions, seek support, and offer encouragement to others.

Interested in peer support? Try Circles online and app support groups.

How to be happily single and independent

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. 

Research shows that personal relationships are detrimental to post-divorce healing. While community or network-based relationships (groups, clubs, communities) help boost positive mood and behavior, close one-on-one relationships help individuals cope with the negative emotions caused by divorce. 

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. 

Activities and hobbies to do alone

Here's a list of activities and hobbies that can be pursued alone, and provide a sense of accomplishment, joy, and fulfillment:

  • Reading: Find books, magazines, blogs, and articles on topics that interest you, whether it's fiction, non-fiction, self-help, or a new skill you want to learn.
  • Writing: Journal or write poetry, short stories, or that novel you’ve always thought of starting. Explore creative writing as a way to express yourself and tap into your creativity. You might even find a local writing class where you can learn from others and share your writing.
  • Art and crafts: Interested in creating art? Try painting, drawing, sculpting, pottery, knitting, crocheting, or any other form of artistic expression that inspires you.
  • Photography: Photography is a hobby that can be low-effort and cost (simple take snapshots with your phone or a simple digital camera) or advanced (invest in a professional camera and lenses, and learn how to take high-quality portraits, action shots, nature and scenic photos). You can also experiment with photo editing tools, print your favorites, and enter them in competitions.
  • Cooking and baking: Creating edible delights can be extremely cathartic if that’s something that interests you. Experiment with new recipes, bake goodies for or with the kids, or learn how to cook cuisines from different cultures.
  • Exercise: Even light fitness like walking can have a huge positive impact on your mental and physical health. Solo workouts include yoga, mindfulness walks, jogging, cycling, swimming, strength training, pilates, and more. You can find free or premium fitness classes through online platforms, too (YouTube is a great, free place to start).
  • Music: Play a musical instrument, sing, compose music, write lyrics, or simply listen to music that lifts your mood.
  • Gardening: Grow plants, flowers, herbs, or vegetables. You can do so in containers if you don’t have the space or motivation for more, or build raised beds or transform part of your yard into gardens. No space at all? Look up community gardens in your area.
  • DIY projects: Consider doing your own home improvement projects, furniture restoration, making seasonal decorations, or upcycling items for a creative outlet.
  • Connect with nature: Hiking, camping, bird-watching, stargazing, or solo trips to scenic locations can remind you of the simpler joys in life.
  • Mindfulness and meditation: Find your zen with deep breathing exercises, meditation apps or classes, or yoga. Regular practice leads to improved sleep and stress reduction.
  • Learn new skills: Online courses or tutorials can teach you new skills such as coding, graphic design, languages, cooking techniques, or musical instruments. This could even lead to a career change.
  • Volunteering: Give your time to help causes or organizations that align with your values and passions. Helping others helps you, too.
  • Traveling solo: Explore your neighborhood, find hidden gems, or plan that international trip your partner never wanted to go on.
  • Self-care: Pampering rituals such as skincare routines, spa days at home or at an actual spa, makeup tutorials, pedicures, etc. remind you of your inner and outer beauty.
  • Get creative: Express yourself through dance, theater, improv, storytelling, or any form of artistic expression that allows you to connect with your inner child or most artistic self.
  • Pets and animal companions: Adopt a pet, volunteer at an animal shelter, or become a dog walker to experience companionship, love, and responsibility – no humans required.

Tips for dealing with loneliness or social pressure as a single person

Of course, even the most independent people get lonely from time to time. Here are steps you can take to cope during these moments. 

Acknowledge and validate your feelings

Allow yourself to feel negative emotions without judgment. You’ve been through a lot. Maybe your ex hurt you so badly that you never want to let another person into your heart again. It's okay to feel these emotions, and accepting them is the first step toward coping.

Practice self-compassion

Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself with the same empathy and understanding you would offer to a close friend going through a similar situation. You are doing the best you can, and that’s enough.

Reach out to trusted friends and family

Stay connected to your inner circle – people or pets who can offer a listening ear, encouragement, and companionship. Share your thoughts and feelings with them openly.

Join social groups and attend events

We’ve provided a list of possibilities in this article. Engage in activities and hobbies that interest you and offer opportunities for socializing. While isolating on occasion is okay, do not become a recluse.

Attend social events, gatherings, parties, or networking functions where you can meet new people and expand your social circle. Don't be afraid to initiate conversations and introduce yourself.

Seek professional support

If you’re unable to navigate post-divorce life on your own or lack a supportive network of friends or family, consider seeking support from a therapist, counselor, or support group. You can find ones that specialize in post-divorce challenges, loneliness, or social adjustment. Professional guidance can provide valuable insights and coping strategies.

Practice positive self-talk

Silence that inner critic. When you feel yourself saying negatives about yourself, replace them with positive affirmations and empowering thoughts. No one is perfect, and nothing good comes from dwelling on mistakes or perceived shortcomings.

Set realistic expectations

You’re going to have ups and downs. Be realistic about building new social connections and friendships. Understand that forming meaningful relationships takes time, effort, and mutual interest. 

You don’t have to decide if and when you’ll date again. In fact, it’s best not to make any firm decisions right now. Allow yourself time to heal, and be open to the possibility of changing your mind.


More articles by Stella Harris:
Relationship Specialist
Communication, Mediation, Sexual Health, Life Coaching
Stella believes communication is key to satisfaction in relationships. Professionally trained as an intimacy educator, coach, and mediator, Stella brings empathy, expertise, and a fresh perspective to help clients find their sticking points and break through the roadblocks to their goals. Stella’s wide-ranging expertise has led to being featured on the evening news discussing the importance of sex education in schools, appearing as an expert witness in court, and even speaking as an authority on banana slug mating habits. Stella lives in Oregon and is the author of two books, Tongue Tied: Untangling Communication in Sex, Kink, and Relationships, and The Ultimate Guide to Threesomes. Learn more at or follow her on Instagram @stellaharriserotica.