With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, what better topic to talk about than dating. Is dating after divorce scary or exciting? It’s both!
I have three simple tips to get you started ….
First – gone are the days of rigid societal rules and expectations so there is no defined time you have to wait before starting to date. It depends very much on your specific circumstances and you being ready. When you’re ready, you’ll know.
Next – even if you do want to be in another serious, committed relationship, start by just having fun. Don’t take this too seriously. Many of the people I talk to feel lost by the time their marriage ends. They don’t know what’s important to them, they don’t know what makes them laugh and they don’t know what feeds their soul. Going out on dates can be a fun way of rediscovering yourself.
Third, know the difference between dating for keeps and dating for fun. While there is no magical time frame for when to start dating, I’m a firm believer that you do need to wait at least a year from the end of your marriage before committing to another exclusive, long term relationship. This is a gift to yourself – you need this time to work through your emotions, to adjust to all the practical changes going on and to truly re-connect with who you are.
These tips will just get you started … there’s lots more and my go-to expert on this is Sandy Weiner of LastFirstDate.com. Join Sandy and me in this episode of Conversations About Divorce as we explore the world of dating:
- how do you know you’re emotionally ready to date?
- do you have to wait to have your divorce decree in hand?
- what if you never meet that special person?
- is everyone capable of falling in love?
- do you have to use online dating services?
Here’s more of what Sandy Weiner and I chat about …
Believe In Love
I talk to many people who are considering ending their marriage and a common fear they express is, “What if don’t ever meet someone else?”
Sandy and I both agree that while being free to meet and date other people is a consequence of divorce, that shouldn’t be the primary motivation. The primary motivation should be about becoming the best version of you. Becoming the authentic you.
And, Sandy is very adamant, you have to believe in love and the difference that being in a truly loving relationship could make to that best version of you. If you don’t believe in love, the danger is that you will settle. You’ll settle for someone who by all accounts should be a good fit even though you know deep down that something is missing. We know where most of these relationships head.
Love Yourself First
Date for fun but before you start dating for keeps, do the self-work so you fall in love with yourself. You may be blocking yourself with your unconscious belief systems, your previous negative dating experiences and the inner critic that tells that you are not enough in some way … not funny enough, not tall enough, not slim enough, not young enough … The weird thing about life is that when we hold these limiting beliefs, our experiences almost always seem to reinforce them. So getting rid of these means you will change the way you attract love into your life.
No Decree Required
Plenty of couples spend many months even years figuring out their legal divorce and if you’re in this situation then you don’t have to wait for your final divorce decree before starting to date. If you have clarity that your marriage is absolutely over, your spouse is already dating someone else, then dive in. Do remember though, you’re dating for fun and it is important to be honest about your marital status. When someone asks, you don’t have to give them all the gory details. You can say, “My marriage is definitely over and we are working through the legal process.”
Now, if you have minor children you need to be smart about this. Your dating choices could be used by your SBTX to attempt to restrict your parenting time.
Imperfection Is Good
Chances are there are some aspects of your life that you have neglected – maybe it’s your appearance, maybe it’s your physical health, maybe it’s your emotional health. Now’s the time to take an honest assessment and see what needs a refresh. This doesn’t mean taking drastic measures, although I have known people to get their nose fixed – it could be getting a new hairstyle, updating your wardrobe, or having a make-up consult. It may also mean taking up some physical activity, which in itself could be a fun way to meet new people.
Like it or not, first impressions matter. When you turn up for a date with hair that is long overdue for a trim or wearing clothes that need repairing or that don’t fit, you are telling your date that you don’t care about yourself. When you show up in an outfit that is you with an updated hairstyle you’ll feel more confident and that makes you a more appealing date.
What’s important to remember however is that we are all a work in progress … no one is perfect so you don’t have to wait until you’ve run your first marathon or got to your target weight.
Be Open With Your Kids
We are hard wired for companionship and connection. That means dating is a core part of our lives so telling your kids that you are dating in an age-appropriate way is perfectly acceptable.
While experts agree that you should not allow your minor children to spend time with any romantic partner until your relationship is serious, provided some time has passed since the end of your marriage, you can tell your children you are going on a date, who you are going with, and where you are going. You can also tell them, again in an age-appropriate way, why you’re choosing to see or not see that person again. It won’t be that long before your children are dating and they’ll be looking to you as a role model. What messages do you want to send your kids?
Stop Making Excuses
There’s a difference between not being ready to date and making excuses because you’re intimidated. If it’s some time since your divorce and you still feel you’re genuinely not ready to date because your self-confidence is really low and you just can’t trust your own judgment, then it may be time you sought professional help.
If you just keep putting it off because somehow you never find the time to complete your online profile or you’re just going to lose another five pounds or you just need a little more free time or you need to have a little more money, then you’re making excuses and you are not doing yourself any favors. Having some trepidation about dating is perfectly normal but it’s like most other new activities, you have to get started and learn as you go. Using someone like Sandy Weiner as a dating coach will help.
Use An Online Dating Service
Online dating really is a misnomer – in reality all these services are about connecting with someone online and then meeting in person. While friends and family may connect you with someone new, relying on this as your sole way of dating will likely be very disappointing.
So do go online but be aware, it’s a bit like a job search. You will need a profile written to attract the sort of people you want, with fun and current profile photos that show your personality. Choose a service and then work it for at least a few months. Be proactive reaching out to people you find attractive and don’t take it personally when people don’t respond to your emails: some of the services leave the profiles of inactive members visible so it can be deceiving.
If you’re wondering about a premium site with a paid membership versus a free site, it’s a bit like the difference between a department store, like Macy’s, Dillards or Nordstorm versus TJ Maax or Marshalls. There are absolutely eligible singles on the free sites – you’re just going to have to know what you’re looking for and be prepared to do more searching.
Get Offline ASAP
I loved this quote from Sandy: A profile is not a person.
When you read someone’s profile, you start to try to visualize yourself with that person. That’s what profiles are designed to do. So you start communicating and with each exchange you add to your mental image of what this person is like. You start ticking off the check boxes. Pretty soon you’ve created a fantasy and maybe have even started to think that this person is the ONE. The problem is you haven’t met in real life yet and then when you do, you’re confused because this person is nothing like what you thought.
It was all your imagination. The easy solution to this is to follow this simple rule: connect online and take it offline quickly.
Love At First Sight Is A Myth
Sorry to burst your bubble … the chances of falling in love with someone on first meeting are very slender and if you keep waiting for that to happen, chances are you’re looking to avoid the hard work of dating. You’re hoping for an easy way out and in there lies the danger of settling. So, keep an open mind and don’t be in too much of a hurry to refuse a second or third date. Give yourself and your date the chance to overcome first date jitters and to let your true personalities shine.
Sex? You Decide
We can’t finish this conversation without talking about the question on most people’s minds. What about sex on a first date? Is it expected? Should you? Sandy’s simple advice is that it is up to you to decide your sexual boundaries and to communicate them to your date. If your date accepts your boundaries, then that’s a good sign for agreeing to a second date otherwise it could be a sure sign that you are not well-matched.
Sandy Weiner is the founder of LastFirstDate.com. Visit her website to download your free copy of Sandy’s report, The Top Three Mistakes Midlife Daters Make. Sandy also offers private and group coaching services especially for women aged forty and over.