It can be hard to put yourself back into the dating scene after a divorce. Having been in such a committed, long-term relationship can make just the mere thought of single life absolutely terrifying.
Here are a few tips for dating after divorce that will hopefully help you become comfortable with the idea of swimming free with the other fish once more.
1. Take your time
This is the sort of step that is best not to rush. No matter how manly and tough you think you are, divorce is an emotionally traumatic event, and it will take time to come to terms with the reasons why everything worked out the way that they did.
It is also important to get your new lifestyle back on track before you delve into the new world of post-divorce dating. Take time to get your finances settled, get back into a routine, take care of yourself physically as well as emotionally, rediscover passions for old hobbies and generally just recover from the storm that recently passed. There is no set amount of time this will take, but know that everything will eventually work itself back into a semblance of normalcy.
2. Learn proper date etiquette
Many people meet their first spouses in college or around that same time in life. Back then, dating was often just a game of, “How long will it take to get in her pants?” (And if she sticks around, perhaps consider if we are compatible for a relationship). Well, as unfortunate as it may sound at first, that won’t be the case anymore. However, that is not a bad thing.
Use the experience you have gained as an adult to your advantage. Even if your marriage was a disaster, you are bound to have picked up a little more knowledge and perception about the things women like than in your past single life. If nothing else, simply adding the clichés you see in movies and TV to your romantic repertoire is easy and really can’t hurt your game. By merely dressing nice, holding open doors, pulling out their chair, picking up the check, opening the car door, offering compliments, bringing flowers, etc., you’ll score plenty of points with just the little stuff.
3. Don’t rush back into a relationship
It is frequently tempting to jump right back into a relationship with someone, simply because you are accustomed to being a couple. After the emotional turmoil of divorce, it may take some time before you can objectively decide that you want to settle down with someone. Some men may also fear they are running out of time to find someone and the divorce may have wreaked havoc on their self-esteem, so they grasp for the first woman who is willing.
It is a common misconception that you only have a certain amount of time to meet someone. Just because you went through divorce does not mean you are a failure at love; you actually probably have a better understanding of its delicate nature than most. Once you can use your divorce as a learning experience, you will be much better equipped to determine if you are making the right decision on choosing a new partner — but again, getting to that point takes time.
4. Don’t bring up the divorce too soon
While interesting conversation is now more vital than ever when it comes to dating, don’t get caught up in the details of your divorce on the first few dates. You will be talking a lot about your lives, but try and gloss over the unpleasant details until you have made a firm connection with someone.
This relates back to why it is so important to get yourself back into a routine and rediscover hobbies or interests: The divorce is obviously the biggest news in your recent life and you could talk about the specifics for days, but new romantic interests will be put off by talk of a bitter past. Keep the conversations light and upbeat; you will eventually have the opportunity to divulge the details of your divorce if the dating turns serious.
5. Relax, be yourself and have fun
Dates are never going to go over well if you are constantly worrying. Once you can get over the initial fear of wondering whether you are doing things completely wrong, you’ll notice that dating is much more relaxed than when you were younger. You can be honest without being fake, listen and actually care what the other person is saying and draw from life experiences new and interesting topics of conversation.
The same as before you were married, not every date is going to turn into a long-lasting relationship. That does not mean you are doing something wrong, it’s just how life works. Don’t take it personally if you don’t get a second date out of it, and don’t feel obligated to call someone back for another if you weren’t feeling a connection. You don’t need to go out there looking for your next wife, just take it easy and enjoy meeting new people.
It may seem intimidating at first, but try not to over-think it: After you are ready to move forward and you can push past the anxiety of being back in the dating scene, it will become just another fun thing to do on weekend nights.
Mat Camp is a former Lexicon Services Online Editor, who focused on providing a comprehensive look into all aspects of the divorce experience. On MensDivorce.com, he concentrated on issues, such as parenting time, custodial rights, mediation, the division of assets, and so much more.
Mr. Camp used the wealth of experience of Cordell & Cordell attorneys to bring tangible answers to reader questions in Ask a Lawyer articles, as well as offer a step by step process through the divorce experience with Cordell & Cordell Co-Founder and Principal Partner Joseph E. Cordell in Divorce 101: A Guide for Men.
Mr. Camp used thorough research to highlight the challenging reality that those who go through divorce or child custody issues face. He helped foster the continued success of the Men’s Divorce Survival Guide, the Men’s Divorce Podcast, and the Men’s Divorce YouTube series “Attorney Bites.”
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