The pain of divorce doesn't end when the last document has been signed. Even if you're glad the marriage is over, your life has changed, and there seem to be obstacles everywhere, including dating. What was once fun is now filled with pitfalls. Here are some tips to hopefully put the fun back into dating.
Before you start, be sure you're ready to get back out there. If you're trying to ease your loneliness, you may be beginning a relationship before you've completely resolved the last one. Maybe you've seen on social media or heard from friends that your ex has started dating again. Going out on the town would show him! Dating to ease your wounded pride could lead you into a relationship just as bad as the one you just left. Be sure you've had time to rest, heal, and become firmly grounded before you start dating.
This is a good time to think about your marriage objectively. Think back to when you and your ex were dating. See those once enduring traits morph into something selfish. Decide what attributes you want in a date and don't compromise on them. Is he honest? Can she be trusted? Are they overbearing or controlling? Are they needy? Do they have a good sense of humor? What about religious views? Most importantly, what about children? That could be a deal breaker. Knowing these things will keep you from entering another bad relationship.
Once you know what's important to you, it's time to get going! Some things may have changed since you were last on the dating scene. Some haven't. If you're a little shy, start with the tried-and-true methods. Just as you probably did during your divorce, go to your friends. Ask them if they know anyone. You may have some bad dates, but it's better than sitting home alone!
Don't forget there's safety in numbers. You can meet people while participating in all sorts of activities. Book clubs and cooking classes are still popular with both men and women. Farmers markets help you find fresh ingredients for your dishes, as well as help you meet others interested in cooking. Get a group together for day trips or movies or just get together for dinner. Take your dog to the dog park. Take yourself to the dog park. What dog owner can resist talking about his or her prized pup, and, if nothing else, watching the dogs play can give you a pick me up if you're feeling down.
However, when you're tired of making sure you look your best before you walk out the door, stay home! Put on your comfy clothes, grab your laptop, and let social media do the hard work. Online dating has evolved from generalized dating sites to sites having something for everyone! There are sites for single parents and seniors, farmers and equestrians, firefighters, intellectuals, science fiction and cosplay fans, all online, looking for companionship.
Chatting online can be more relaxing than face to face dating but be careful! Be as guarded as you would in any other online situation. Don't give out too much personal information, especially bank account information. Watch out for catfish, or scammers who are only after your money. If you decide to meet someone, be sure to meet in a public place. The anonymity of the chatroom hides a lot of things. Don't take any chances.
When you do meet someone, don't spend the entire time talking about yourself or bashing your ex. This is the time to get to know each other. Think about the characteristics that were important to you. Keep it light but find out if this person is someone you want to have a second date with. Answer their questions, too. But have fun! If you do become a little closer, then occasionally tell bits of your history. Your past experiences and how you handled them tell a lot about you.
If your relationship grows, keep an open mind getting to know them. Of course, you want to know if you like the same movies, music, and food or if you have the same goals for the future. However, don't lose your sense of humor. How will he react if you accidentally, um, burp (or worse) after a bowl of his prize winning chili? What will she do if your cat welcomes her with a half dead mouse as a gift? These are the things that will either have you shaking hands and calling it quits or give you some hilarious “while we were dating” stories.
If things get serious and children are involved, wait until you are both sure you have a future together before introducing them. This lets your children get used to the fact that there's someone else in your life along with the mother or father they visit regularly. You can let them know your new partner isn't going to replace the other parent. Ease your new partner into family activities slowly and do things you'll all enjoy. However, be prepared to have a child who will never accept the newcomer. His or her heart will always belong to Mom or Dad, no matter how hard you try, even if they saw you both at your worst during the divorce.
Divorces are painful and yours may have left you thinking there is no such thing as “happily ever after.” But if you take the time to get to know yourself and trust your instincts, you could find the someone you thought you'd found before, and with love, work, and laughter, you may be able to build that “happily ever after” after all.