Getting Ready to Date Again

Amanda Mason

September 17, 2023

Stepping back into the dating world can feel foreign and even frightening. After experiencing heartbreak, it's natural to wonder what to do next. Seeking relational connection is a natural part of the process of moving on and discovering God's plan for your life. When facing the unknown, drawing strength from the knowledge that God is always with us can be challenging. How can we build resilience for the path? 

Grieve the losses

Having and losing a deep relationship is a loss with repercussions. It's okay to acknowledge the pain, loss, and disorientation of it all. When we have lived with someone, exchanged vows, raised children, and experienced pain, it can be difficult to determine whether or not we are ready to begin the dating process again. However, even though one dream has changed, there is still hope for a new chapter in your life to begin. Experiencing the loss of a relationship is similar to experiencing the loss of a loved one, and sometimes both of these tragedies must be faced simultaneously. The concept behind the expression "you just have to let go and let God" is in many ways straightforward: we must let go of our past hurts and allow God to be in control no matter what happens. But you can't let go of what you don't acknowledge. Naming the losses is a first step towards rebuilding the outlines of a new dream. It is by God's divine will that we accept the reality that God is in control before we can ever hope to dream of a new beginning. This can be difficult when our hopes and dreams are tied up in a relationship that's in the past. 

Draw near to God

When faced with adversity and heartbreak, we may be tempted to turn our backs on God rather than run to him for comfort. But Jesus is standing at the door, patiently knocking and waiting for us to open the door so that he can come in (Revelation 3:20). If you have recently divorced and are worried about losing your home or your financial stability, it is natural to be anxious, but you don’t have to panic. Some divorces can result in bitter legal battles, and at times the person we once loved emerges from the process looking very different. Yet, we don't have to stoop to those levels, we can remain true to the person we are becoming in Christ (Romans 8:1).

God is with you and wants you to have an abundant life (Isaiah 48:17). Relying on God's word, praying, crying, and letting the emotions happen are all normal parts of the healing process. When Jesus died, he promised to send us a helper, namely the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). You don’t have to go through this alone; you can welcome Jesus in and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you through this process. You can tell God about all your emotions, your pain, your anger, your fear, your hopes. God can handle all the emotions you experience. 

Enlist professional help

You may want to console yourself by eating ice cream and watching sappy television, but ultimately, in order to move on and be ready for the relationship God has in store for you, you need to process your past. You will need to work through all the elements of grief, including denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and layer upon layer of acceptance. Engage with a church community if you have not already.  Most churches have programs set up to help those in need of counseling services. Whether it be receiving pastoral care from your pastor, elders, or deacons, or getting the contact information for a good Christian therapist to see in your area, churches have a variety of resources available to you. No one should have to go through the grieving process alone. 

We should not be afraid to ask for help. Using the help of a trained professional and the Holy Spirit, we can also examine our own contributions to the demise of our relationships and take steps to prevent a recurrence. There are always aspects of our lives that we can enhance, and if you are considering or planning to begin dating in the near future, you will want to be the very best version of yourself that you are capable of being.

Process the pain

Even if we have experienced trauma from abuse in our past relationships with our former spouses, it is time to seek healing. God will be the judge of these matters, but that does not mean that the abuse that one experiences that ends some marriages should be left unattended. This can be challenging to talk about openly or to seek professional help for, but God is aware of your suffering and has provided a way for you to recover and move on. 

If your spouse has passed away due to an illness or accident, you may be steeped in grief. Perhaps you are struggling to pay the mounting medical bills while also shouldering the emotional burden of being the sole caregiver for your grieving children. The concept of "letting go and letting God" seems deceptively easy, yet it can have profound effects on one's outlook on life. There is value in reaching out to your pastor or a therapist, as this process can be overwhelming on your own.

Make sense of the past

There may be some unresolved past traumas or unmet expectations of who you were before. There may also be a need for you to figure out who you wish to become.  Examine your life with the assistance of someone who has the capacity to guide you through all that you have just experienced. Be ready to start a new chapter in your life by letting go of the baggage you have been carrying around. Whether your issue stems from your childhood or from previous relationships, and you do not want to take these into your next romantic relationship. 

Without proper care, we cannot learn how to re-love ourselves, discover what our current interests are, or overcome our future-related anxieties. In order to find out who we are and what we are looking for in a new partner. It is helpful to first find ways to reconnect with who we are before we plan to add someone new to our lives. The Holy Spirit was sent to us because God wants us to have help, but he also gave us free will, so you must decide to let the Spirit rebirth the parts of your life that need it. Be encouraged to know that even though seeking therapy from past traumas can be difficult, it may also have been part of God’s plan all along.

Embrace the new you

When marriages end, it is common for people to start questioning their identities, both before and after the breakup. It is important to assess your current passions before venturing into the dating scene. After pursuing counseling you will be in a better position to let go of the past and make room for the future. Then you will have had some time to grieve your losses and engage meaningfully in therapy. 

In exploring this new you; perhaps you will discover a desire to work that you never had before, or perhaps you will decide you would like to be more financially or socially independent than you have ever been before. God will give you the wisdom (James 1:5). Reevaluate your priorities and explore how to achieve them both independently and in collaboration with others. Since we become one flesh in marriage, everything we do, from our hobbies to our volunteer work as well our social circles to our extended families, inevitably affects one another.

Put yourself out there

God longs for us to have personal connections with him as well as fellowship with other people. Being around other people is a good way to take our minds off of ourselves, so if going out is too expensive or difficult, you can always try to join a group through your church or take up a virtual hobby instead. Attending or volunteering at local church events is a great way to receive spiritual enrichment and connect in community. Engagement in a faith community broadens your social circle and assists in discovering your ability to function more independently. 

Perhaps there is a cause that you cared about more than your ex-spouse did, or perhaps there is a sport or form of exercise that you have always wanted to try but never had the time. Getting out and meeting new people, as well as staying in tune with God's will for our lives, can be accomplished through getting involved in the community and serving the Lord. 

Serve others

Participating in activities that help other people, going outside of ourselves, and trying new things can be very rewarding for the body, the mind, and the spirit. If you're now a single parent with time restraints or worries about finances, there are places you can donate your time to as a family, and this is a great way to help your children learn to give back and not focus on their losses as well. Serving the Lord blesses us and cares for others while also increasing your chances of meeting new people, including a potential lifelong partner. Being in the company of other Christians also increases the likelihood that any potential partners you meet will share your commitment to the Lord.

Engage in self-care

Self care is crucial as you step into new territory. Dating can be a discouraging season where you face rejection and discouragement. Keeping a journal, spending time in God's word, becoming a part of a prayer group, and keeping your mind on the things of Jesus help us navigate grief and find out who we are in Jesus. These practices heal your heart and spirit as you venture back into dating again. Draw near to God and trust that our Lord will walk with you faithfully through whatever this next chapter holds. God is with you no matter the circumstances surrounding the dissolution of your marriage, and he will help you through this next season as well.

About the author — Amanda Mason

Amanda Mason is currently a seminary student from Ontario Canada, studying for a Master of Divinity degree in hopes of becoming a pastor. She and her husband have been married for almost ten years and they care for their four children which includes blended family and special needs parenting. In her time apart from full-time studies and parenting she enjoys nature, writing, music, and engagement in her faith community.

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