Guest Blogs

Single Again: Dating After Divorce

Guest Blogs, Singleness

God designed relationships to be a place where we’re cared for, provided for and nourished, where we can feel safe and grow. When this is interrupted or destroyed by divorce, the newly solo-again person is forced back into singleness, maybe with children to support as well. Being alone again after years of marriage can be a traumatic time.  Knowing when to date again is an important question and can’t be rushed.  

This week we have a guest blogger, Deryn Van Der Tang. Drawing on her own experiences of divorce and widowhood and sharing the wisdom God has shown her along the way.

My Story

After my divorce, my emotions were raw. I felt rejected, betrayed, like I wasn’t good enough, and that I had broken God’s laws and commandments. 

I’d grown up in a legalistic Christian community and felt guilty that I could not keep my marriage together. I felt I had broken those covenant laws, and this placed a terrible burden on my soul. It took a lot of working through, prayer and emotional healing before I was ready to consider another relationship.

Before even considering dating again as a newly single person, I believe it’s important to work through the grief process and find healing and come to a place of forgiveness and acceptance of the past.  

This is an essential stage, otherwise, we are likely to carry baggage from our past relationship into a new relationship, being triggered and projecting onto our new partner.

Rebound Warnings

We may be feeling desperate to be loved again, to have someone to help us raise the children, someone to help provide for us and to give stability once more. This is natural and understandable. But I’ve learnt one very important lesson about this stage:

We become very vulnerable.

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of dating, or even marrying, on the rebound just to have somebody, anybody to take care of us and make us feel happy again. But I’ve seen that there is a greater chance of future dating and/or marriage relationships failing because people don’t take the time to work through the grieving process of their lost relationship.

Work through the pain and our vulnerability

Another thing I warn people about at this stage is that there are many predators who look for vulnerable people to begin an unhealthy relationship with. These are the wolves in sheep’s clothing, unfortunately also to be found in Christian communities!

If there are children involved, it’s even more important to make sure we are a happy and healthy single parent before remarrying, as stepfamilies can be fraught with lots of challenges.

This is why we need to not rush, and work through the pain and our vulnerability. 

Finding Support

So where does this leave us? 

I believe this is a time when we need people who will love and support us through the process. Hopefully we will belong to a loving, non-judgmental family, or church family, to get us to a place of happiness and confidence on our own again before going out into the dating world.

We need good friendships and people in our lives to help support us on our journey towards wholeness.  

From my experience, I have found that divorce recovery or support groups served a very good function in stabilizing me in the first year after my divorce. They helped me see whether there were things I could have done differently, so that if and when I entered a new relationship, I would not make the same mistakes again. 

If these are not accessible to you, home church or cell groups with leaders who will support you can help. Some churches run a singles group that have social events as well. Single parent groups can be found in communities too. (Read 3 Things You Should Do To Avoid A Co-dependent Relationship)

This is a time to reach out to people and ask for help

If your church does not support you, it might be wise to find one that does as this can make a big difference to your emotional and spiritual wellbeing. 

I would also advise people to avoid online relationships as far as possible, but I realise others would disagree with this advice.   

I learned after my divorce that I needed people who would keep me grounded and would pass me a tissue or give me a hug when I needed it. This is a time to reach out to people and ask for help, and not the time to retreat or jump straight back into dating. 

Dating Again

Once I was healed, I felt it would be better for my children and myself if I remarried, but I began the dating process from a position of strength, praying that God would bring the right person into my life.  

I had also built a strong support system to pray me through this new stage in my life. I found that there were many broken people out there that would not make good life partners a second time around and it was only after six years and some bad learning experiences that I married my second husband. (Read How Do I Tell My New Date About My Past?)

Imagine If…

Imagine if we took time out after a divorce to find healing before rushing into a new relationship.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to date again, but there is a journey we need to go on to make dating as positive as possible. (Read 2 Strategies for Surviving The Changing World Of Dating)

In your experience, how good are churches at helping us to date after divorce? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 13/5/2019

Deryn’s Bio
Deryn is a writer, artist, nature and travel lover who is passionate about helping people transform their life experiences. She has been divorced, remarried and widowed and has moved countries four times. She has three adult children and three grandchildren. Deryn runs divorce recovery workshops and writes a blog to help people to find God’s grace and navigate major life transitions.

W:       FB: /Derynsbridge       Insta: @derynvan

My 5 No-Nonsense Tips For Singleness. Part 2

Guest Blogs, Singleness

In part 1 Lora Thorley, who heads up a ministry for single Christians called ‘Honoured’, shared two of her top tips for singleness. In part 2 she continues to share her valuable insights in a down to earth and honest way. So here it is, in her own words:

As I said in part 1 – being single can suck. But I know that God blesses us in all situations, and will not press pause on our lives just because we’re not coupled up.

So I’m going to keep sharing my 5 no-nonsense tips, so that this truth can become more of a reality in our lives.

#3 Look After Yourself

In my experience self-care and self-love are the keys to a happy single life. It helps remind us that we are valued and precious.

Often in a relationship, another person will make you feel this way by the little things they do to treat you and look after you. If you’re single you might have a great support network around you but you will also need to do things to look after yourself.

For example, every night I make myself an amazing dinner – even if it’s just me eating. If I just cooked beans on toast for myself every night I think it would reinforce the lie that just because I’m alone I’m not worth bothering about.

Instead, I treat myself like the Queen that I am and it helps build self-love and self-esteem – both of which are needed to love others.

Don’t see it as self-indulgent to treat yourself with love

This will look different for different people. It might be treating yourself to a gym membership or organising yourself a birthday party or sending yourself on holiday.

Whatever it looks like, don’t see it as self-indulgent to treat yourself with love – otherwise you’ll just be waiting for someone else to come along and fulfil that role, and who knows how long that could take!

#4 Build A Robust Relationship With Hope

I wonder if you, like me, swing between optimism and cynicism when it comes to your romantic future.

Some days I’m feeling like the right person is just around the corner and I can swim in the warm waters of anticipation and excitement. On other days, and I particularly find this after talking to other single Christians in the same boat, I despair of ever meeting anyone.

However – our hope is in the Lord.

Keep reminding yourself that we don’t hope in vain

So let’s keep looking at the bigger picture. We know there is joy and love in our future because of Jesus. That’s not some kind of abstract religious idea – it’s real joy and real love. We can put our hope in the fact that Jesus has adventures ahead for us.

So keep filling your life with scripture that reminds you of this. Fill your life with people who speak God’s truth over you.

Keep reminding yourself that we don’t hope in vain and although our earthly lives may not run exactly as we expect – God has a plan and a hopeful future in mind for us. (Read Quick Guide: When Saying ‘Being Content With Singleness’ Is & Isn’t Okay)

#5 Slay, Slay Every Day!

Something about being single can make us feel like we’re constantly on the back foot.

You might struggle with loneliness or sadness at times.

You might not have the emotional support which can come from a loving relationship.

You might start to wonder if there’s something wrong with you if you’re still single.

Often the church can seem like it’s made for families and if you’re not part of a couple or family you might feel a bit disconnected.

All this can leave you feeling a bit vulnerable or a bit of a victim at times.

The power of Christ lives in them as much as married people

But part of running Honoured is reminding people that they are not second class citizens in the church. And the power of Christ lives in them as much as married people.

For that reason, we have no excuse not to go for it in life. Step up, step out and take a risk. Whether that is taking on some new challenge or new area of responsibility in your church, going for it in your career, tackling a new project; we’ve got to live with passion and confidence. (Read 5 Cliches Said To Singles, Have You Heard Them All?)

Imagine If…

I could go on and on talking about this subject, but this is just a flavour of what the Honoured movement stands for and what we promote. Imagine if we remembered we were made to thrive, no matter what our relationship status is.

Whether you’re celibate, dating or wish you were dating – there’s a beautiful, exciting, fulfilling life for you to live so there’s no need to press pause – go for it. (Read 4 Trends that characterises singleness in our 20s, 30s and 40s)

Which tip do you think is the hardest/easiest to follow? Comments welcomed below

Originally posted 15/10/2018


Lora’s Bio
Lora is a writer and a teacher living in Nottingham. In 2017 she launched Honoured, a ministry for single Christians based in Nottingham, Manchester and London. She writes blogs for Honoured as well as various other websites and organisations. She’s passionate about empowering single Christians and encouraging others to step into whatever adventure God calls them to, regardless of their relationship status.

My 5 No-Nonsense Tips For Singleness. Part 1

Guest Blogs, Singleness

Today Lora Thorley, who heads up a ministry for single Christians called ‘Honoured’, shares some of her own story with us. She also shares her wisdom, born out of real and personally-lived experiences, that can help anyone who is single and just wants honest and tangible advice.  So here is part 1, in her own words:

I’m going to make a bold statement here.

I wonder if you’ll agree with me.

Being single sucks.

It doesn’t matter how many married people say to me ‘Oh I’d love to be single sometimes – being married is sooooo hard.’

It doesn’t matter how many empowering Instagram posts I read about how we need to be happy with our single life before we meet someone else.

It doesn’t matter how much I love starfishing in bed and choosing what TV to watch without debate.

I still hate being single.

But God Doesn’t Press Pause 

As I run Honoured, a network for single Christians, I meet a lot of single people every week, and to be completely honest, I rarely meet anyone who is totally happy with being single.

Although I know first-hand how tough relationships can be, being part of a couple has always felt more natural to me.

God will bless and use you whatever your circumstances

But the more I walk through different seasons with God, the more I learn that there is joy to be had in any situation. God will bless and use you whatever your circumstances or relationship status and he doesn’t press pause on our lives just because we’re not totally satisfied with our situation.

He still wants us to keep growing and keep faithful.

So with these thoughts in mind, here are the first two of my 5 no-nonsense tips for surviving and thriving in your singleness.

#1. Don’t Feel Guilty About Finding It Hard

The worst thing about being single is the pressure to feel ok about being single. For some reason, us Christians equate it with holiness – like the more satisfied you are with your single life the closer you are to God. 

Personally, I think this is utter nonsense and sets us up for a season of guilt and struggle. It’s natural to feel lonely, and while we know that God is enough for us, we also know that God made us for human companionship, he put within us the capacity for romance and the desire for sexual intimacy. 

None of those things are wrong.

So let’s invite God into the times when we find it really hard. Let’s give ourselves some grace and acknowledge that it can be really difficult to be single sometimes. Let’s give ourselves permission to be sad or lonely and lean on God in those moments. (Read The Worst Advice You Can Hear About Rejection)

#2 Don’t Wait Around Doing Nothing

I’ve just met too many people lately who’ve said they’re being patient and waiting for God to send them the right person. 

I have no doubt that God sometimes does send someone along in this way or that he could if he wanted to. But we never have this attitude to anything else in life, so why do we have it with dating?

We don’t wait around for God to send us a new job without filling in any applications.

Be proactive and push a few doors in the way you would with other areas of life

If you want to meet someone then you need to make some moves. Join an internet dating site or app. At Honoured we independently review these and give advice on online dating. Ask a friend to set you up with someone.

Go to an event for single Christians (Honoured also run some brilliant events)

Be proactive and push a few doors in the way you would with other areas of life.

And pray – not just for the right person to come along. Pray about the process, pray about each date, pray that you might be a blessing to whoever you meet and pray for God’s discernment and guidance. 

Because you might be surprised by someone you never thought you’d be interested in dating!

Imagine If…

In Part 2 I continue to share my next three tips. 

For now, I want you to imagine how much we could help ourselves and each other, if we embraced these tips, and allowed each other to be more honest and active in this area of our lives. (Read What The Bible Actually Says About Singleness)

What other tips would you add? Comments welcomed below

Originally posted 8/10/2018

Lora’s Bio
Lora is a writer and a teacher living in Nottingham. In 2017 she launched Honoured, a ministry for single Christians based in Nottingham, Manchester and London. She writes blogs for Honoured as well as various other websites and organisations. She’s passionate about empowering single Christians and encouraging others to step into whatever adventure God calls them to, regardless of their relationship status.

Stories From The Dating Scene: Dating In Church Was Awful

Guest Blogs, Real Life Stories

You would hope that dating in church would make your relationship easier, but sometimes people think the throwaway comments, pressure to build a perfect relationship, and the ‘marriage-focused culture’, makes it harder. This post is written by a friend of ours, who loves church, but wanted to share her honest story about her struggles.

‘I’m keeping these toys for your kids, meaning my grandkids.’

This is what the mother of my friend’s girlfriend said to him. It’s awkward because they aren’t married or engaged, but it’s even more awkward because they’ve only been going out for three months!

The amount of people who tell me these kind of stories. They often involve people from their church, people who mean well, but pile on the pressure. It can make new couples feel like they need to ‘decide right now’.

A friend of mine wrote a post for me a while ago, but it still seems very releavant. So I wanted to share what she had to say again. This is her story, in her own words:

Dear Church 

Dear Church, first let me say, I love you. I love you with the kind of love that means I seek out time to spend with you when I’d rather be asleep. The kind of love that means I think of you when it comes to what I spend my money on, where I live, and what I do. And above all, the kind of love that endures all things… and there have been a few things to endure.

I believe a loving relationship involves honest communication so we can both grow. And so, trying to be humble, knowing you have so much to teach me and I have so much to learn, I have a few things to talk about.

I’m so grateful for your joy on my recent engagement. But I need you to know, that there have been times it’s been hard to love you while I’ve been getting here.

Questions And Comments

Those times before I met him when you asked me if I was ‘still single’ and started going through your list of eligible bachelors, because single wasn’t as good as being married.

Those times just after we started dating when the gossip mill went into overdrive, and everyone was watching.

Those times when we realised this relationship wasn’t perfect, but the only relationships you talked about and showed us looked flawless. (Read What 35 Years of Marriage Really Looks Like)

More interested in whether we were ‘avoiding sexual sin’ than getting to know us

But most of all, it’s been the pressure that kicked in later. Every time you looked shocked and slightly confused when we said we’d been together for two and a half years now but we weren’t engaged.

Those times you were more interested in whether we were ‘avoiding sexual sin’ than getting to know us as a couple and encouraging the deepening of our relationship.

Those times you seemed to communicate that dating was a process we had to endure, as quick as possible, just to achieve that higher status of being married.

Dating Devalued

And then, in the end, there were the jokes that were made when we did get engaged, saying it was ‘about time’. And the rumours that circulated about one or other of us dragging our feet and keeping the other one waiting… Because who could actually want to date for that long?!

Church, those times hurt us. See, we decided to take things slowly. Rather than seeing dating as something to get over and done with as quickly as possible, we’ve delighted in it as a time to develop deep roots. (Read 15 Questions for Building Mutually Enjoyable Fulfilling Relationships)

We’ve delighted in it as a time to develop deep roots

We’ve had scores of late-night conversations; we’ve had, and are still having, more arguments than I’d care to admit; we’ve experienced a period of exhaustion and near depression; we’ve cried our way through a fair few tissues; we’ve spent hours upon hours laughing with each other’s friends and families.

And in nine months’ time, when we walk up the aisle, surrounded by the community we’ve built over four years, we will not regret choosing to wait this long.

Imagine If…

Imagine if, next time you meet a single person – delight in who they are; don’t get distracted by planning who they could marry; communicate to them that for you they are enough, just as they are.

Next time you have a dating couple – hold back on the questions; invest in the time they spend building a relationship that will endure.

With both of these groups – when they are crying, be honest about your own brokenness. When they are celebrating, celebrate with them.

Above all else, whatever choice they make about their future and their relationships, commit to being the community that stands alongside them. (Read I Wouldn’t Have Survived Without My Church Family)

Have you been asked a question like one above that was unhelpful? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 24/9/2018

Stories From The Dating Scene: I Loved Him, But The Relationship Was Dysfunctional. Part 2

Guest Blogs, Real Life Stories

In the second of this two-part article, our anonymous guest writes about her break-up, what she learned, and what she would do differently next time. By taking the time to really reflect on what happened, she has been able to find God in the mess, and learn more about herself and healthy relational dynamics.

Part 1 of this article came out last week. Part 2 is written by our anonymous guest again, all in her own words:

‘I Want Harmony Over Truth’ 

I spent the next few weeks trying to save the relationship, but I realised it was a dead end. Any attempt to start a discussion to resolve the issue would be immediately labeled as a ‘conflict.’ 

He would just say, “You didn’t make me feel safe” or “I don’t want to talk because we are different,” or “other girls can read my emotions” to stop the conversation. We never got to the real issue.  

He said he didn’t want to hear the truth because he wanted ‘harmony.’

I cried out to God and prayed for guidance and wisdom

I was devastated. I really loved him and it hurt me deeply to see him being hurt. I cried out to God and prayed for guidance and wisdom. 

To my surprise, what followed was a great time of peace that I hadn’t expected. 

God Help Me To Process Everything 

I fired tons of questions at God, and God used all sorts of encounters to answer my questions. 

Many friends and my family gave tremendous support to me. I also had a blessed time of reflection and repentance before God as I reflected on how some of my behaviours were unhelpful and highlighted some of my own issues.

Now that the relationship has ended, I can see things much more clearly. I realise nearly all decisions and understanding in our relationship hinged on his feelings. 

Recognising Dysfunctional Foundations

He made it explicitly clear he wanted his future spouse to submit to his emotions, and that his emotions were above the truth. 

He didn’t want to communicate, he wanted me to read his mind and do whatever his feelings dictated at the time. And the moment you demand that your partner must meet all of your emotional needs all the time, you create a goal that no relationship can reach.

This cannot be a realistic foundation of a meaningful relationship

So no matter how much I loved him, it was always going to be a dysfunctional relationship because this cannot be a realistic foundation of a meaningful relationship.

It also will always guarantee emotional ‘infidelity’, because every day there is always someone else out there who can give you better ‘feelings’. 

I used to desperately want to satisfy my ex, now it’s a relief that I didn’t (well, I couldn’t). I realise we need to bring our emotional needs to God first, he’s the source of our peace and our solid foundation. We will never be perfect but when we seek satisfaction in God first, then we’re able to love others freely.

I’m not writing all this to blame him. I’m sharing my experience because these emotional struggles are more common than many people think. 

The Right Decision 

Though I really missed our good times together, I was also relieved as I returned to the ‘normal’ world where there’s no need to read other people’s emotions to gain acceptance. Ironically, this actually allows me to freely understand and engage with their emotions in a healthy way! 

I have read many articles on how couples should deal with emotional differences (some just assume women are the emotional ones!). All of them teach the importance of effective communication and listening, with which I agree completely. 

Looking back, I am grateful for the love and guidance from God, friends, and family throughout the healing process. I can only pray for the same for my friend. Only God can fully understand and bring true healing and restoration to the deepest void of our hearts. (Read Warning: A Relationship Should Change Us, But Can’t Cure Us)

We can experience true intimacy with God, which leads to true intimacy with others

Real Healing 

Intimacy means to completely know and to be completely known. 

It means humbly exposing of all our weaknesses, fears and past emotional baggage. 

Just like a luxurious home constantly requires tedious cleaning and maintenance, an intimate relationship always involves great effort, vulnerability, and sacrifice. But because of Jesus’ ultimate vulnerability and sacrifice, we can experience true intimacy with God, which leads to true intimacy with others. (Read Revealed: Why Some Break-Ups Feel Good (After A While))

Imagine If… 

Imagine if we approached relationships like our guest writer. If we decided to reflect on the events which happened and thought about how to do it better next time. If we ran to God for help and guidance above all else and realised relationships are about healthy communication instead of unrealistic demands. How much better would our relationships be? (Read Quick Guide: Discover What All Good Dating Relationship Have In Common)

Q: What good and bad influences do you think shape expectations in your relationships? Comments welcomed below

Originally posted 9/7/2018