Ask Dr. Gilda-When Is It Time To Date Again?

A recently divorced woman wonders if it’s appropriate to get right back out there—as her ex did!

By Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D.

ear Dr. Gilda,
How long would be a decent amount of time to wait before moving on after a breakup? My husband and I recently divorced. Only three days after our split, he had another woman in his new apartment. Soon after that, he slept with her. He told me about this when we tried to work things out again. When is a good time to move on after a divorce?
– Hurt & Angry

Dear Hurt & Angry:
Everyone has a different need for time and space after a breakup. Some people catapult themselves right into another relationship, or at least into another bed, just as your ex-husband did, while others take the time to catch their breath and
It’s not unusual for recently divorced couples to try to stay in touch.
examine what just happened. Those who jump hook, line, and sinker into a new romance don’t do the necessary work required to discover how to right their previous wrongs. They continue to enact the same behaviors (and make the same mistakes), only with different partners with different faces and different bodies. So in your search for clarification during your mourning period, you naturally question whose behavior is more in line with mental health—yours or your ex’s? Without a doubt, your own solo life is!

Whether or not you and your husband were attempting to reconcile, he should never have told you about his quick escape to the arms of another woman. While his revelation might have been an unconscious attempt to boost his broken ego with proof of his desirability, he knew it would hurt you. Maybe also unconsciously, he wanted to get revenge for your split. Whatever the reason, this is a guy you considered rekindling love with. Maybe you should re-think this more carefully!

Since you are divorced, the way each of you chooses to live your life is totally your own private business. It’s not unusual for recently divorced couples to try to stay in touch. They have just left a familiar zone, as miserable a marriage as they might have had, and they long to hold on to that familiarity—sometimes as friends, sometimes as lovers. This leaves them with one foot out the door, but the other one in safe surroundings. This behavior usually only puts off the inevitable final split.

For you now, I recommend the following:
  1. Make a clean break from your ex—without phone calls, emails, or seductive hints of reconciliation. If there is a possibility of a future together, you will eventually know that after you both have spent alone time to sort out the past.
  2. Don’t push yourself to begin dating until you are completely ready. You’re not in competition with your ex for who can hook up first. I often recommend waiting a full nine months to reflect and heal before entering the dating waters again.
  3. Use this time to explore your inner desires. Participate in activities you did not experience when you were married.
This is YOUR time. As my Gilda-Gram says, “The way a person manages her time reflects her self-esteem.” Show yourself you’re worth however long it takes to heal in the healthiest way possible.

Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D., has a private practice and is an associate professor at Mercy College in New York. Her best-selling books include Don’t Bet on the Prince!, 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity and How to Win When Your Mate Cheats. Please visit her website ( and send her your relationship questions.
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