Dating after divorce is frightening territory. After one failed marriage, you may feel discouraged about the potential of a future long-term partnership. So when you are ready to date again, does the first relationship after divorce last?
The first relationship after divorce can last, although statistical data argues against it. Notably, two divorced partners entering a union are 90 percent more likely to divorce. Additionally, up to 23 percent of couples in second marriages or post-divorce relationships separate within five years.
While statistics don’t seem to support the likelihood of a long-term relationship post-divorce, these partnerships are certainly still possible.
While the statistics seem grim, it doesn’t mean that all post-divorce relationships are unsuccessful. Successful long-term unions are possible for divorcés and divorcées, and there are ways to determine a relationship’s longevity.
This article examines several factors that affect post-divorce relationships, how to increase the success of relationships after a failed marriage, the benefits of post-divorce partnerships, and what to expect when dating after a divorce.
Will My Post-Divorce Relationship Last?
Every relationship is different; there’s no “one-size-fits-all” scenario. As such, not every post-divorce partnership plays out in the same way. Therefore, it’s impossible to say for sure whether any relationship will withstand the test of time. However, some factors may contribute to relationship longevity after a divorce.
Post-divorce relationships can last. That’s assuming both partners are well-educated and socially and psychologically stable. Effective communication and similar expectations, traditions, and parenting styles (when children are involved) are also good indicators of relationship longevity.
Additionally, the length of courtship may also play a role. Couples that remained in a courtship for a year or more tended to report happier marriages and relationships.
Interestingly, meeting online also seems to lead to more successful partnerships — likely due to more screening of potential partners and open, honest communication before settling down.
I mentioned the factors that increase the chances of a successful, long-term relationship. Post-divorce relationships often take more work, however. In the next section, I’ll discuss what puts second marriages or post-divorce relationships at risk of breaking down.
What Are the Reasons Post-Divorce Relationships Fail?
Post-divorce relationships can fail for several reasons.
Some of them are within the control of the people involved in the relationship, while others factor in the couple’s environment, social support, upbringing, and similar considerations.
Here are the reasons post-divorce relationships fail:
- Certain personality traits
- Divorce reasons
- Lack of familial/friend support
- Early cohabitation
- Difficulty blending families
Note that not all post-divorce relationships will fail.
Relationships and second marriages after a divorce can be successful. It’s essential to recognize that more factors play against the relationship. Let’s examine the above factors more closely.
Certain Personality Traits
Interestingly, certain personality traits lead to less marital and relationship satisfaction. For example, impulsivity and neuroticism can contribute to a poor marriage outlook, increasing the likelihood of divorce. Low levels of social support also seem to boost the likelihood of divorce.
The reason for divorce could play a role in whether or not a future partnership is successful. The top causes of divorce include infidelity and a lack of commitment. Unfaithful partners or those with commitment issues are less likely to maintain long-term relationships.
Lack of Familial/Friend Support
The first marriage or long-term relationship often receives much praise and support from friends and family members. Second long-term relationships and second marriages often don’t receive the same social support that the first marriage received.
Jumping into living with your partner is a serious risk factor for relationship stability.
For example, you may realize that your significant other has habits (e.g., unwillingness to clean up after themselves) that you can’t put up with for long. It’s important not to dive right into cohabitation, especially if you’re looking to develop a long-term partnership.
Difficulty Blending Families
When leaving a marriage, children are often involved—as such, blending families can complicate a relationship. When done right, partners who share the same ideals, values, and parenting styles can create a fulfilling functional family.
How Do You Increase the Chances of a Successful Post-Divorce Union?
While no one can predict the future of a relationship, some elements may contribute to whether a relationship after divorce is long-lived or short-lived.
These indicators can help you understand what long-term, healthy relationships look like to ensure your success in creating one.
You can increase the chances of a successful post-divorce union as follows:
- Improve communication.
- Choose a partner that values you.
- Nurture friendship in a relationship.
If you want to boost your chances of a successful post-divorce relationship, you need to know what you want out of the relationship, what the other person wants, and how you two can reconcile your differences. Let me walk you through a few tips below.
Many marriages fail due to a lack of effective communication. Issues often go unresolved, leading to many problems that often seem impossible to fix. There’s a deep level of friendship, mutual respect, and understanding in solid relationship bonds.
Because couples are so invested in one another and deeply care about the other’s emotional well-being, they actively look for new ways to resolve arguments constructively — and interestingly, it’s not so much about what’s said but instead how partners communicate.
Hashing things out in a respectful, understanding way is a surefire way to determine the success of a relationship.
Also, the discussion of boundaries and expectations is crucial to the success of a relationship. These discussions should take place early on, especially regarding potential deal-breakers. For example, if your former marriage ended due to infidelity, your new partner must understand that infidelity is an absolute dealbreaker.
Also, if you’re looking for a long-term partner, express that upfront.
It’s better to discuss relationship expectations right off the bat than to find out later that you were wholly invested, only to find out that your partner didn’t view the courtship as an exclusive thing.
Choose a Partner That Values You
According to a study from the University of Washington, the happiest couples are incredibly in-tune with one another’s wants and needs. They feel comfortable with one another and value their differences.
On the other hand, in unhappy couples, that symmetry is lost.
There’s often resentment towards differences and a negative outlook on their partner or the relationship as a whole. Look for a partner who shows interest in your passions while also sharing their own. Both of you should have your own life outside of one another to avoid codependency.
Nurture Friendship in the Relationship
Many times, marriages fail due to the erosion of the underlying friendship.
Normal life circumstances, such as career, parenting, and financial strain, may take priority over other situations in the relationship. While it’s OK to prioritize, you must still make time for one another for the relationship to work.
On the other hand, relationships that show the potential for longevity involve couples making time for one another, i.e., they don’t allow their “friendship” to dissolve.
It doesn’t have to involve elaborate displays of romance. Even seemingly silly things could potentially increase the likelihood of a lasting post-divorce relationship.
One University of Rochester study found that couples who discussed five movies every month were less likely to divorce.
This factor plays into the “nurturing the friendship” aspect of a relationship, as fun, simple things like spending time together play a huge role in relationship satisfaction, as they boost your chances of knowing the person and getting closer to them.
What Are the Benefits of Post-Divorce Relationships?
It’s unwise to enter a new relationship expecting it to be the same as your last union.
Instead, recognize that every relationship experience is different. It’s essential to take what you’ve learned from past relationships and use them to impact your future partnerships positively.
The benefits of post-divorce relationships are:
- You’re more familiar with relationship problems.
- Couples may be more committed.
- Divorcèes and divorcès are more flexible.
Post-divorce relationships aren’t all bad. No matter what happened to you as a divorcèe, there’s something you can get out of the experience and translate to your future love interests. Below, we’ll discuss some benefits of post-divorce relationships.
You’re More Familiar With Relationship Problems
Divorcèes and divorcès are likely to have encountered and worked through many relationship challenges during their former marriage. Therefore, they’re more experienced in resolving issues, and their expectations tend to be more realistic. This factor can lead to healthier resolutions when marital problems arise.
Couples May Be More Committed
When seeking out a long-term partnership after a divorce, most people make a more substantial commitment to ensure their next relationship lasts. They’re likely more aware that relationships require time, patience, and healthy discussion to make things work.
Love on its own is great, but it’s not enough to carry a relationship.
Those with failed marriages often recognize this fact, so they do what they can to nurture their relationship. They pay careful attention to potential problems that may arise, looking for solutions instead of placing blame.
Divorcèes and Divorcès Are More Flexible
Those who’ve endured a marriage that failed tend to remain flexible in their scheduling.
They know that marriages require time and devotion, so they make it a point to manage time effectively. Together, partners make time for themselves, their careers, and their relationship. If things don’t work out, they’re more likely to put their heads together to think of new ways to make things right.
What Should I Expect When Dating After Divorce?
After a divorce, there are many situations to navigate. Because of the difficulty surrounding a divorce — both financially and psychologically — dating is often the last thing on a divorcée or divorcés mind.
When dating after a divorce, don’t jump in immediately. Wait for enough time to pass before moving on to the new relationship. Consider whether a rebound relationship will work for you.
Others find that exploring new relationships may help increase their confidence and happiness. According to studies, entering a new relationship after a divorce could be psychologically beneficial. But which scenario is best — diving right into the dating pool or waiting?
How Long Should I Wait To Date After Divorce?
Relationship experts and psychologists believe that how long you wait before dating after divorce depends on multiple factors. The time needed to recover and start dating again is individual and depends on the length of the failed marriage and reasons for divorce.
You should date after divorce once you resolve negative feelings regarding the former marriage, according to relationship experts. It’s also essential to achieve social and psychological stability to ensure that you’re entering a new relationship with a healthy mind frame.
Psychology Today recommends taking a one-year hiatus from dating after a divorce before starting a new relationship. This allows enough time to get through any emotional, psychological, or financial strain, providing a “fresh start.”
That’s what I’m doing.
Well, truth be told I had my first date last night. But we’re about at the 11-month mark so I’m pretty close. My ex, on the other hand, jumped into a relationship quickly with a long-term friend she often said was like her brother.
So we’ll see where we both end up.
On the other hand, other researchers believe that waiting at least three months is sufficient before getting into a serious relationship post-divorce. Others insist that there’s no link between how long you wait to date and the quality of the relationship.
However, if children are involved, that’s another element to consider.
They also need time to resolve their feelings regarding the divorce. Most children feel negative emotions due to parental divorce or separation, like fear, confusion, or anger. After approximately a year, children tend to feel less strongly about a divorce.
Waiting one year to date post-divorce is a good rule of thumb when children are involved. You could potentially risk the relationship by jumping in sooner, as stepfamily problems often lead to issues within the relationship (e.g., conflicts between the stepchildren).
Are Rebound Relationships Acceptable Post-Divorce?
Rebound relationships are relationships that begin shortly after the end of a former romantic involvement. These relationships often start before the feelings and baggage from the marriage have been resolved, and may or may not work depending on the people involved.
Rebound relationships after a divorce are acceptable if that’s what feels best for you. There’s little evidence proving that rebound relationships are unsuccessful. On the contrary, many studies show that rebound relationships often increase psychological well-being.
The acceptability of rebound relationships depends on personal opinion. According to the University of Utah, people who jump into partnerships quickly after divorce don’t have higher breakup rates than those who wait for more extended periods.
Claudia C. Brumbaugh, professor in the Psychology department at CUNY Queens College, conducted a study examining rebound relationships and the partners’ feelings.
The study concluded that people in rebound relationships after marriage often feel more confident. With that said, they also tend to be somewhat emotionally attached to their past relationship.
Additionally, Brumbaugh’s study also suggests that rebound relationships last a total of two months on average. Thus, if you’re looking for a long-term partnership, it’s best to wait for a few months to a year before jumping into the dating pool.
Relationships take work. Dating after a divorce doesn’t automatically guarantee a fairytale ending.
Love is a part of a successful union, but it takes more than love to create a long-lasting and respectful bond.
Recognizing that all relationships are different but still require effective communication, nurturing, and respect is the first step to a successful post-divorce partnership.