I am often asked by divorced women how they can know if they are ready to date, or if it shortchanges the sovereignty of God by getting out there and trying something like online dating.
I was in a tough, tough marriage for 19 years, undergoing extensive counseling and attempts to make our relationship healthy and whole. But then my husband served me divorce papers—and five years ago, I found myself single.
When I tried online dating two years after my divorce was finalized, it was not because I thought it would be fun. In fact, the thought of it basically creeped me out. It seemed—I don’t know—desperate, maybe.
And I wasn’t desperate. I had come to a place of being fine on my own. But then I found myself waking up to the reality that I believe God had created me for partnership and companionship, and remarriage was something I desired.
The problem is, I’m shy. And an introvert. My idea of a good time was either a girls’ night out (and by girls’ night out, I mean tea and something chocolate-y with my girls) or a night on my couch with Netflix or a book. I work from home and I don’t go to bars. And I didn’t really know any men who are single. So unless a super cute, forty-something, godly repairman happened to walk through my kitchen one day, I was out of luck.
Unless a super cute, forty-something, godly repairman happened to walk through my kitchen one day, I was out of luck.
My friends suggested I have an open mind and try online dating. I did—and discovered there were some really good men out there. I ended up finding one and marrying him!
So let me answer two questions I’m asked.
1. How do you know if you are ready to date?
It starts with actually being single. Meaning, if you have not signed divorce papers, you are not single (even if you feel as though you are) and you should not be dating.
You should be taking sufficient time to heal by going through DivorceCare. Seeing a counselor. Grieving. Laying low. Resting. Journaling. Going out with your girlfriends. Painting a room in your house. Buying a dog. Serving someone. Taking a class. For at least a year or more.
And then once you’re divorced and once you’ve done some major grieving and healing work, then and only then—for your sake and for your future date’s sake—should you consider dating.
- If the idea of dating utterly repulses you, you’re not ready.
- If you hate men, you’re not ready.
- If you haven’t forgiven your ex-husband, you’re not ready.
- If you’re feeling desperate and panicky about living the rest of your life alone, ironically, you’re not ready.
- If you have a burgeoning addiction (to alcohol or food or shopping or porn or sex), you’re not ready.
- If the thought of a date scares you to the point of paralysis, you’re not ready.
- If you want to be remarried because you’re broke or you think your kids need a father figure or to prove to your ex-husband that you’re worthy of a man’s love or because you’re scared to live alone or to fill your bottomless void of need, you’re not ready.
However . . .
- If you have prayed about it and you feel God is in this, you might be ready.
- If you have talked to people you trust and they think you are ready and they support the idea, you might be ready.
- If you find yourself doing fine on your own— you are enjoying your life, you are not crying lonely tears every night, you have friends, you are doing your own thing—you might be ready.
- If you can take or leave a man, you might be ready.
- If you’re looking for a companion and not a savior, you might be ready.
But I would say this: Only you know if you are ready. No one can answer this for you.
And I would also say this: You can always try! You can go on one date to test the emotional waters and if it freaks you out, you can choose not to go on a second date. You can regroup and keep living your sweet life for a little while longer until you are ready to venture out again.
2. Am I putting things into my own hands—and taking them out of God’s—if I try dating?
All I can really say to that is this: My youth pastor’s wife used to tell me that God doesn’t move parked cars. Yes, God could have brought a cute, godly delivery man to my house—but he didn’t. You don’t just get a college education; you have to pick a college and go. You don’t just get a cup of Starbuck’s coffee popping up on your kitchen counter; you have to drive there and buy one. God gives us a spirit of wisdom and allows us to make our own choices. To me, this simply falls under that same big umbrella.
Is dating a bit scary (especially post-divorce and post-pain)? Yes, of course. But I can attest to the fact that it can also be fun and an adventure (and I don’t tend to be an adventure kind of girl). And it can end in a really wonderful, sweet way.