A familiar face popped-up on my screen after I ran a search for “available” singles, between the ages of 35-45, in my city. My curiosity had gotten the best of me, and I was on a Catholic dating site “just looking” at who had created profiles. I was pleasantly surprised to find someone I knew from college. The World Wide Web of dating just got considerably smaller…
There is nothing wrong with most Internet dating sites, or dating, for that matter, provided you are truly available to date. For Catholics, this includes going through the annulment process and receiving a Decree of Nullity. For everyone, it means having recovered from your divorce, being emotionally ready, and having discerned if God’s plan for you is to be married. In my case, I had done none of that. Heck, it was only a week since my divorce had been finalized when I made that fateful click! I have come to find out that my rush back into dating after divorce is all too common. Many people feel the irresistible urge to explore dating very soon after their divorce, some even before their divorce is final. The need to validate that you are desirable, attractive, and important, combined with the desire for companionship or physical intimacy, drive people to jump right back into dating.
What I also came to learn was the painful lesson that most of these too-soon dating relationships are doomed to failure. I don’t have exact statistics, but in my experience ministering to divorced people, about 80% have experienced what I call the “crash-and-burn” relationship. These relationships never stand a chance because they are built on very unstable foundations. (My relationship with my college friend ended painfully after six months.)
It is best to give yourself plenty of time after your divorce before starting to date. Jumping back into dating too soon robs you of the time and energy you need to do the things you really should be doing. This includes: recovering emotionally, rebuilding you and your life, helping your kids (if you have any) to cope with divorce, going through the annulment process, and determining if God’s plan for you is the vocation of marriage. This takes time. How long? While it differs for everyone, my advice is at least two to three years. I know that this may seem like an eternity for some, but don’t rush it. Focus first on completing all the steps for your healing and personal development by making Christ your #1 relationship. He will fulfill the deepest longings of your heart. Take it from someone who has the scars from my own crash-and-burn experience, you will be glad you did.
There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every affair under the heavens.
A time to give birth, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace. – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8