7 things never to do after a divorce

Here's how to get through the painful process with your health and dignity intact.
by Bela Gandhi / / Source: TODAY

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As the song goes, breaking up is hard to do. And sometimes it might feel like you're feel like the only one out there going through it — but you're not! Almost 50 percent of first marriages in the U.S. will end in divorce. The break-up rate for second and third marriages is even higher, according to the American Psychological Association.

As a matchmaker, I know first hand how difficult the next steps can be. But after you get through the painful process of splitting up, which can take months or years, and are thinking about what's next... Be sure to not do these seven things.

1. Don't make any drastic physical changes.

Skip the tattoos or piercings for now. It's normal to feel "rebellious" after a divorce or major breakup, but doing anything permanent to your body is something that you may regret shortly after you do it!

2. Don't expect your ex to be reasonable.

Like anywhere in life, we can never change anyone else's behavior. The only thing we can do is change ourselves. When your expectations are too high, especially if your ex has a track record of contention and hostility, what usually happens is that we crash down low when our expectations aren't met. The only thing you can do to help is to mindfully focus on becoming the reasonable person — and hopefully he will notice and improve his behavior.

3. Don't hook up with an ex.

This person was an "ex" for a reason. Looking up someone you had dated in the past is like reaching out for an old sweater that doesn't fit well, but is super comfy. Having comfort sex can be unfair to both your ex and yourself. When you orgasm, you release increased estrogen, testosterone and oxytocin — which may cloud your vision and make you feel more attached than you should to someone who isn't good for you.

4. Don't skip counseling.

Not going to therapy is usually a mistake after divorce because it's traumatic for almost everyone. If you didn't like your last therapist, find a new one. There are thousands out there — find one who you have chemistry with. You need to work on yourself and heal the wounds before you can face the world of dating in a healthy way again.

5. Don't speak badly of your spouse on social media.

If you need to vent, call your mom or your pals. Don't put it on Facebook or Instagram for the whole world to see. It will do you no good at all — in fact, probably just the opposite.

6. Don't isolate yourself from your positive, married friends.

Reach out to your friends and let them know you still want to be part of their dinners, parties and kids' celebrations. Married folks often don't know how to tread the waters of close friends divorcing, and they could use some guidance and clarity from you. If you have friends that "dump" you, they weren't real friends in the first place. Eliminate them, and make space for good new friends who elevate you and want the best for you.

7. Don't start dating without a plan.

We often tend to do what's comfortable instead of what's inherently right. If you don't realize what went wrong in your marriage, understand your part in it (yes, you played a role — we all do), and what kind of a partner will make you happy for the next chapter of your life, chances are you can end up with someone who is a repeat of your ex in some form.

At Smart Dating Academy, one of the most important things we do is help divorced women to dig deep and identify their "High GHQ" men (High in Good Husband Qualities) — so that they have a road map to someone who will make them happy (and to prevent them from ending up with the wrong person again).

I promise there is a light at the end of the dark divorce tunnel — we see happy endings all the time. Follow these seven rules to start out with, and you'll be on track for getting yourself back to happy again in the least amount of time.

Dating coach Bela Gandhi is the founder of the Smart Dating Academy.

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