When you’re stuck in a lifeless marriage, dating can sound enticing, thrilling, like a rousing carousel of non-commitment. None of the old problems will exist in a new relationship, you think. All those interesting, attractive people who were single before you married are probably waiting around, eager to go out with the newly-single you—not to mention the eligible strangers online.
Some people love dating after divorce. It can be a great way to meet new people, learn about new places and see yourself positively in someone else’s eyes.
But many people can’t bear the thought of it. This doesn’t indicate a permanent, bad-marriage-induced lack of passion, but rather a natural and even healthy response. Some people want time to process their marriage, to figure out what just happened here. Others wanted to prove to themselves that they can make it on their own. Some parents I met said they were too focused on their children to make space for someone new right away.
For many of us, the issue is one of attachment. We’ve been dedicated to the wellbeing of this other person for years or even decades. Attachment is an emotional and physical reality. It maps itself on the brain, and can take a while to lift.
Biological anthropologist and legendary love scholar Helen Fisher describes love not as a feeling, but rather as three basic brain systems that evolved to help us seek partners, narrow our focus to one, and stay together to raise babies.