According to statistics, 1,000 people get divorced every day in the United States ALONE…WOW! That means fewer than 50% of first marriages end in divorce. Now most of you out there reading this who might be married will probably gasp a little, and I do not blame you. But those of you who are divorced might be doing a little happy dance right now at the thought of all those possible divorcees out there for the taking. But first, be forewarned, my friends. If you are recently divorced, or have been divorced for a long time, whether you are old or young/have kids or do not, entering the dating world can be a very exciting time in your life. It also presents itself with some challenges that you should really think about before making the decision to jump back in and get into the dating driver’s seat. You are going to feel scared, and at times, intimidated. But never let that hold you back in finding and meeting other people because, in turn, you will find out more about yourself along the way. If you let it, it can be one of the most rewarding things that can happen to you.
Dating after divorce can be very overwhelming, but over the past five years, I have developed my own “Method to the Madness” for dating after a divorce. Here are some tips that have helped me in the dating scene, and some tips that have basically helped me in ALL of my relationships as well:
1. WHO AM I AND WHAT AM I DOING? – Make sure you can answer these questions. If you cannot, then you should not be dating anyone until you can. DO NOT PASS GO and DO NOT COLLECT $200. I cannot stress this enough to all of you. Being able to re-establish your identity is PARAMOUNT to the success of any relationship you have or want to have down the road. Whether you want to admit it or not, you lose yourself sometimes when you are in a marriage, and you need to take advantage of this time alone. You need to take the time to re-discover who you are and what you like. You need to make sure you are ready to move forward and know what you are looking for in a mate. You never get a second chance on life, but sometimes, we do get a second chance on dating. TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE OF IT!
2. BE ACCEPTING BUT DO NOT SETTLE – This one is very important. Never let possible post-divorce loneliness, sadness or insecurity make you lower your standards when you start dating again. Everyone deserves and has a right to be happy in life. Be respectful of what it is that you want, and be proud of who you are and what you can offer a person. This is one of the most challenging but rewarding tasks you can achieve. Believe in yourself and others will follow.
3. DON’T DISH THE DIRT AND TRY AND LET GO OF THE PAST – It is important to not discuss your ex on your dates. It is within reason to discuss your divorce, but you do not need to become the Daily Gazette with all the dirty details on your date. This tip is extremely important, especially if you were recently divorced or it was a messy or sticky situation. I am not going to lie and say you will not be tempted to talk about the details on what went wrong, or who did what to whom and how and when, etc. It is important that you try to resist the temptation and focus on the person across the table from you instead.
4. PROCEED WITH CAUTION!!!! IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN, TAKE YOUR TIME AND INTRODUCE THEM TO YOUR PARTNER SLOWLY! – I find this tip invaluable in every possible way. My son adores my boyfriend, but we waited and took our time before we introduced him. You need to be able to identify your relationship and what you are as a couple FIRST before you bring your children into the picture. It can be an incredibly stressful situation for all involved, and timing is everything when bringing your children into your new relationship. Make sure you give your children enough time to be able to adjust to the new changes on their own. Do not ever force your child to accept the relationship, but also do not let your child call the shots on who you do or do not date. It is important to have a healthy balance in this situation.
5. TAKE YOUR TIME, STAY POSITIVE AND ABOVE ALL, ENJOY YOURSELF – We all know that divorce can leave you with baggage, and we have to stay positive and believe that someone out there has that “matching set of baggage” just for us to make a complete luggage set. It is very important to take your time and have fun with it. This is a time of re-discovery for you in so many areas of your life, and it would only benefit you to live life to the fullest and be confident in what you can bring to a relationship.
6. IF ALL ELSE FAILS, THERE IS ALWAYS WINE AND CHOCOLATE – Of all the tips out there, this is the MOST IMPORTANT AND VALUABLE ONE!!! Well, not really — but I have benefited from this one a time or two myself.