Dating After Divorcing a Narcissist?

Written by Angela Atkinson

Have you experienced a divorce that involved a narcissist? If you’ve been through narcissistic abuse and you’re now thinking about entering the dating world again, there are some things you need to think about first. Let’s face it, a divorce can be a traumatic experience especially when you’ve dealt with narcissistic abuse, and jumping into the dating scene can be more than you might be ready to deal with. The only one who will know if you are truly ready to start dating after a divorce is you, but here are some things to consider before you go on that first date.

Are you really ready to date after your divorce?

This is where you have to take stock of your own emotions and what it is you are looking for after getting divorced. Only you can really answer this question but something to think about is why do you want to start dating again.

Are you lonely and think that dating again will help fill that void left by your ex-spouse? If this is the case you may not be ready, because the person you date may not fulfill your expectations, particularly if you do not know what it is you want out of a new relationship.

If you look at it from the point of asking yourself what you want from a new relationship you may find it easier to make a decision about dating after your divorce.

Are you confident enough in yourself to date safely?

Going through narcissistic abuse can destroy your entire self in so many ways, the least of which is a complete erasure of your self-confidence. So, when you’re ready to date again, its’ a really good idea to do a double-check and ask yourself if you’re really confident enough to get back out there. Do you have what it takes to deal with someone in a dating relationship?

For many survivors of narcissistic abuse, simply going through the divorce itself can be devastating. You need time to recuperate and to heal from the years of trauma you’ve just been through. You have to ask yourself if you’re ready to deal with someone on that emotional level again. Are you confident enough in yourself that any letdown or rejection during your foray into dating will not damage your emotional state?

Do you know what you’re looking for in a potential partner? 

What kind of person are you going to date? How detailed are you being in your “checklist” of wants and needs in a partner? Your tendency may be to try and find someone who is the complete opposite of your ex-spouse – and who could blame you if that person was a narcissist?

While this may sound logical, you might be missing something important if that’s the direction you’re planning to take here. Why? Two reasons.

First, you were attracted to your ex-spouse for a variety of reasons, none of which involved the toxic person they later showed you they were. Because your marriage didn’t work doesn’t mean that you didn’t like some of the things that attracted you to your ex in the first place. You need to accept people for who they are, not who they remind you of.

Second, there is more than one type of narcissist, and on the outside, a covert narcissist may appear to be the complete opposite of an overt one. This can lead to you getting involved unknowingly with another toxic person who may act a little different but who might still be the same level or type of toxic as your ex. For example, I personally looked for a person who was the opposite of my narcissistic parent and I found him. Sadly, he turned out to just be a different kind of narcissist – he flew under my radar because his external behaviors were so different. But underneath it all, he was exactly the same.

Are you prepared to deal with trigger moments? 

After you’ve been abused by a toxic narcissist for a long time, you might be a little sensitive in ways that won’t make sense to your potential dates. As I mentioned, knowing what you want is important, but be careful not to overly compare anyone you date to your ex-spouse. Certainly, there are toxic behaviors you’ll have to watch for and avoid in a new person, and it will make it even more difficult if that someone you are dating seems to do some of the things that your ex used to do that drove you crazy.

Realize that most of the time they will be unaware that they are doing something that reminds you of your ex-spouse. Their otherwise innocent behavior might trigger you in a way you’re not expecting, and it might erroneously lead you to assume you’re dealing with a narcissist. If this is a concern, you’re going to want to have a pattern interrupt plan in your back pocket – as in, be prepared to pattern-interrupt yourself in the moment so you can consider what happened later, when you’re not feeling scattered or afraid.

Are you ready to take it slowly (and safely)?

Listen, I get it. After a toxic relationship, you might just want to hurry up and move on with your life. And I get it! Heck, we’ve all heard the (really terrible) advice of “If you want to get over someone, get under someone new,” right? That is completely off-base, just in case you wondered.

If you really like this new person in your life and you want to give them a chance, then they might be worth it. BUT, despite what your heart seems to be telling you, you should not rush into this or any relationship – and you should give yourself some grace here.

The most important piece of advice I can offer here is to take it very slowly, even if you’re sure this is your actual soulmate. The thing is that while a toxic person might push you to move faster in the relationship than you want to, someone who is really “your person” will be happy to take it slowly and not rush things.

Remember too that what you see and think may not be what they intend for you to see and think. It is hard for a new person to prove they’re not like your ex, and they shouldn’t have to do that, necessarily. Rather they should be themselves and you should try to judge them on their own merit. It isn’t really their job to help you overcome the demons of your past relationship, even if they seem to want to try.

It’s Okay (And Recommended) to Wait Until You’re Ready

Avoid dating at all if you’re not ready to do it – there’s nothing wrong with waiting until you’re ready, mentally, emotionally, and otherwise. At the same time, don’t be afraid to enter into the dating world after your divorce when you are ready, but at the same time, you need to know who you are and have the confidence to find what you are comfortable with when it comes to dating. Trust yourself to make the right choice and chances are you will thrive as you begin your new life dating after divorce.

Not Sure You’re Ready to Date After Divorce?

Take this free self-assessment to find out if you are ready to date after a divorce from a narcissist. 

Related Resources for Dating After Narcissistic Abuse

 

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