You know that very scary statistic about how half of all marriages end in divorce? Break our your celebratory champagne, because it's not true anymore. Divorce rates have been on a pretty sharp decline since 2008, mostly because of the things Millennials are apparently very good at is staying together (take that, all of our parents).
Still, divorce isn't totally extinct and it never will be. Which means that jumping back into the dating pool, post-marriage, is a reality for lots of women. That sounds scary and like probably the last thing you wanna do after going through the ~big D~, and so to ease some of your fears, three women who were married and divorced before turning 30 gave the full breakdown on dating after divorce.
How old were you when you got married, and how old are you now?
Natalie: Nineteen when I got married, 28 now.
Maxine: Nineteen when I got married, 25 now.
Krysta: Twenty-eight when I got married, 29 now.
Who did you marry?
Natalie: My high school sweetheart—we met through mutual friends and youth group and had known each other for years.
Maxine: I married someone I was in a long-distance relationship with, and we had known each other for almost a year when we got married. She was someone I dated in college while she was in the Marine Corps. We had an instant connection and I felt like a part of my soul knew her before.
Krysta: I married a guy I met living in Tampa back in 2014. He was a second-year medical student and I was working as a medical records clerk.
Why did you get married when you did?
Natalie: We were both Christians and grew up in the Midwest, so it was the "logical next step."
Maxine: I was very much head-over-heels in love with her. She was my best friend. I saw her as my soulmate, she was someone I wanted to start a family with, and someone who I saw being the mother of my future children.
Krysta: Honestly, it was more of a "next step" in life. As a 28-year-old woman, you really start thinking about your future. I knew I wanted a family and kids and being the wife of a doctor didn’t sound too bad (LOL). Compared to my dating record, I thought saying yes to a future physician was the best I could do.
How long were you married for, and when did you start the separation and divorce process?
Natalie: We were married for seven years and filed in January 2017. Due to California law, we were required to wait at least six months for it to finalize. In August, we were officially divorced.
Maxine: We started the separation process just before our third marriage anniversary. And two years after we separated, we were divorced.
Krysta: My ex-husband and I were together for two years before we got married, and were married for six months before things started falling apart, rapidly.
Why did you decide to get divorced?
Natalie: There was no pivotal moment. We cared about each other—and still do—and had a great friendship, but that’s all it was in the last couple of years. Getting married young meant we each had a lot of personal growing to do and we grew apart. I am driven, strong-willed, advancing quickly in my career, and put my job ahead of frivolous things. I don’t knock his path, it’s worked for him and he’s happy, but it’s not what I wanted in a relationship.
Maxine: She wasn’t the person she was at the beginning of our relationship. And we were both in transitional phases, going through separate mental health challenges.
Krysta: There were a lot of signs before our wedding that I ignored. I felt as if I had to go through with the wedding—my parents paid all of this money to create me my perfect Pinterest board, fantasy wedding. RSVPs were already starting to come in and, In my mind, it was too late to go back. Walking down the aisle, I felt like I was making the biggest mistake. But I stayed optimistic and thought I could “fix him.” Then there was infidelity and issues with control. I had to decide if this was how I wanted the rest of my life to be.
How long after your divorce did you start going on dates?
Natalie: I can't say I waited long. It was really fun to get back into the dating pool, given I hadn't been on a first date since high school! I got on Bumble and had flirty conversations—very validating at that point in my life—and went on a few dates.
Maxine: I went on the first date two months after we said we were separating.
Krysta: I started dating immediately after I left the home we shared, and used dating as a distraction to get through the divorce.
How do you handle telling new partners about your previous marriage and divorce?
Natalie: I really hid it at first. When I was seeing people casually and knew nothing was going to come of it, I did all I could to avoid the topic. It worked, but I had to tell a few people and it was awkward, but no one got up and sprinted for the door. What I learned is that I had to be straightforward—not just that I was divorced, but still friends with my ex-husband. It’s nearly impossible to explain to someone that the person you were married to for seven years is strictly a friend, but our friendships means a lot to me and I’m not willing to give that up.
Maxine: Depends on the person and how serious I am about them. I told one woman upfront the first time we started texting, but she’d been married before, too. Unless I’m getting serious with someone or it comes up naturally, I never really bring it up.
Krysta: I like to be honest and upfront about that fact that I recently got divorced. My marriage changed the way I view men and their behavior. I missed all of the signs with my ex-husband, so now I pay very close attention to the smallest things. I tell guys that if they're looking for a relationship, I may not be their ideal girl.
What’s surprised you the most about dating now?
Natalie: How casual dating can be! Again, I dated back in high school as a Christian. Now, I’ve reentered the dating pool as an adult without religion telling me what I can and can’t do. It’s a whole new level of freedom and exploration, trial and error.
Maxine: Everyone communicates differently, and even if they're older than you, that doesn't mean they can communicate any better. I was also surprised at first with how many people were perfectly okay with knowing I’d been married—like it didn't phase them at all, and here I thought it could potentially scare someone away.
Krysta: How accepting guys were when I was dating while separated. It didn’t seem to bother anyone that I was still married on paper.
How did going through a marriage and divorce change the way you think about dating?
Natalie: It really didn't taint it. I knew why our marriage didn't last.
Maxine: I take things much more slowly now. I get to know people better and go on a lot of dates before committing to exclusivity. I have time, and that’s what I keep reminding myself. I’m way more picky about who I date long-term.
Krysta: As of right now, dating is a game to me. I’m not at a place where I can trust another man with my heart. I hope one day I’ll be able to trust again, and maybe ever marry a second (and hopefully final) time.
What’s the hardest part about jumping back into the dating pool?
Natalie: The friendship I still have with my ex. It's a hard relationship to explain, and while I understand how it can be exceptionally difficult to understand, I've been with someone for a year now who doesn't judge what I have with my ex.
Maxine: Not seeing myself as being a problem, and not getting so caught up in dating that I don’t allow myself time to heal or be by myself.
Krysta: Realizing I still have a lot of things to work on as far as restoring myself first. And I know I’m not taking these dates seriously, but it hurts when you realize the guy is. Makes you feel like a crappy person, or like you’re wasting their time.
And what’s the best part?
Natalie: Meeting new people! It's fun of getting out there, pushing yourself to new experiences, learning about peoples past and finding a friend, a fling or a lover.
Maxine: Gaining more self-worth and not feeling like I have to constantly be on someone else’s schedule. I was incredibly scared about not finding anyone that would treat me as well as my ex did. But here I'm out dating and finding stunning women who are not only incredibly successful, but passionate and caring. I love meeting new people!
Krysta: My marriage took a serious hit on my self-esteem, so hearing men tell me things about myself I haven’t heard in a long time has helped me start to rebuild my confidence. It’s helping me to feel more like the woman I was before I said “I do.”
What’s your relationships status now?
Natalie: I've been dating my boyfriend for over a year now; we just moved in together.
Maxine: Single and dating.
Krysta: Single and Fabulous!