I am often asked how to know if you’re ready to date or if it’s shortchanging the sovereignty of God by getting out there and trying something like online dating.
When I tried online dating, 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, as it turned out, marriage was something that I desired.
The problem is that I’m shy. And an introvert. And my idea of a good time is either a girls’ night out (and by girls’ night out, I mean tea and something chocolatey with my best friends) or a night on my couch with Netflix or a book. And I work from home. And I don’t go to bars. And I don’t really know any men who are single. You get my point.
So unless a super cute, 40-something, godly repairman happened to walk through my kitchen one day, I was out of luck.
So my friends suggested I try online dating and that I have an open mind. I did this with reluctance and fear and doubt that anything would come of it.
But five first dates later, and I realized that there were not only some really good men out there, but I ended up finding one.
So let me attempt to answer the two questions I’m asked.
First, how do you know if you’re 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 like you are) and you should not be dating. I don’t budge on this one.
And then it moves on to taking sufficient time to heal. Go through DivorceCare. See a counselor. Grieve. Lay low. Rest. Journal. Go out with your girlfriends. Paint a room in your house. Adopt a dog. Serve someone. Take a class. Like, for at least a year. Or more. I don’t budge on this one either.
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, you’re ironically 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.
- 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’re 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 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 can know if you’re ready. No one can answer this for you.
And I would also say this: you can always try. You can always go on one date to test your emotional waters… and if it freaks you out, you can choose to not go on a second date and regroup and keep living your sweet life for a little while longer until you’re ready to venture out again.
And second, am I taking things in my own hands – and 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’ve brought a cute, godly delivery man to my house. But he didn’t. All of life is free will. 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 kinda girl) and it can end in a really wonderful, sweet way.
Elisabeth Klein is grateful wife to Richard, and mom and stepmom to five. She is the author of Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage and Dating after Divorce, among many other titles, that can all be found at Amazon.com. She moderates private Facebook groups and e-courses for women in difficult marriages and those walking through divorce. You can find her on Facebook.
Publication date: February 26, 2016