Before you start thinking of having a date after a divorce, learn about how you can discern if you’re ready to date after a divorce, and once you are, how you can go about meeting new people.
How to know if you’re ready to date after a divorce
Thinking about dipping your toes in the dating pool? Before you start thinking of having a date after a divorce, the most important thing is that you’re confident in your readiness to do so. Here are a few important questions to ask yourself to make sure it’s the right time for you to begin this new adventure.
How Settled Are You About Your Divorce?
Because having grieved and processed your divorce before dating will yield better results once you do, it’s also good to be past any extreme emotions around it.
You may not want to start dating if you are separated but may get back together soon, or if you are still hoping to reconcile with your ex. Dating will work best if you are comfortable with the fact that your marriage has ended. If you aren’t there yet, that’s OK. However, it would help to wait until you are ready before you begin to think of going for a date after a divorce.
Are You Clear About What You’re Looking For?
You’re older than when you last were seeking a partner, so undoubtedly, much has changed about what you want in one. To date after a divorce, you should have a solid idea about what you are looking for. Before you begin dating, you should feel secure in knowing:
- Your red flags and deal-breakers for future partners
- Qualities you prefer in others
- Methods and styles of communication you do and don’t jive with
- Whether or not you’re OK with someone who is currently raising children
- An updated version of your type, factoring in your current age
- Whether you want a serious relationship or not
How to Meet People
Once you have grieved and processed your relationship, feel settled about it, and are clear about what you’re looking for, you’ll be in a good place to start to date after a divorce. You may be wondering how, exactly, that can happen. Here are a few common ways to begin meeting new people.
Using an app to find dates is often a preferred approach. Know that apps differ in how they work and focus on: ones like Match are more designed for people seeking long-term relationships, whereas Tinder is a better choice if you want a casual new connection. Choose the one(s) you sign up for based on what you’re seeking, and set up your profile in an honest way.
Be upfront about what you’re looking for so that you match only with people also seeking a similar type of arrangement.
Choose flattering photos, and make sure they’re current. Set dates up at public meeting places only without disclosing where you live.
There are apps like Meetup that pair you with activities you enjoy and people with whom you can do them. This is an excellent way to meet new people for dating, and some meetups are specifically for single or divorced people.
Choose an app that services your area, and attend gatherings that you’ll enjoy even if you don’t meet someone new. Often, meetup groups exchange messages online between meetings, which is great if you’re also looking for new friends or acquaintances with similar hobbies.
Tips for your first date after a divorce
Going out on a first date after a divorce or separation is quite difficult for most people. Think of it as like a cocktail of emotions—a dash of excitement, a sprinkle of dread and a dousing of nerves—and voila—you’ve got the first date after a divorce.
Of course, the situation is different for everyone. If you’re going out with an ex or an old friend, your “spidey senses” won’t be as tingling since the person is familiar. If you’re venturing out with an online date or app match, chances are your nerves are in overdrive because, let’s face it: the online experience is a kooky one.
You might even feel a little guilty that first date out, even though you shouldn’t.
So, when you make that time and set that first date after a divorce, here are some things to remember, pay attention to and consider when you head out the door:
1. Just Have Fun & Worry About Nothing Else
Don’t worry about whether you will like the person and have a spark. Don’t worry about where this could head. Just have fun. That’s all that matters. Just see your date after a divorce as an experience and chance to get to know another person. Do not let your imagination run away with you.
2. See It As An Experiment
See it as an experiment. What will this person be like? How will the atmosphere be? What will it feel like to talk to a new person? Just roll with it and try to see it as something you’re “testing out” for the moment.
3. Keep Expectations Low
Even if you’re about to go out with an ex who you were crazy over in high school, you may not have that lovin’ feeling this time around. Again, do not envision your future children, your future date after a divorce or future anything! Just go and see what happens.
4. Be Easy On Yourself
Make the first date after a divorce an easy one. Try coffee, a drink or lunch. Something low pressure. If you set the bar too high, you may bail on the date. I know that there were many times I canceled dates due to my own nerves. Don’t let that be you!
Also, it’s okay if you get out there and decide you’re just not ready. It’s okay to say—you know what? I didn’t have that much fun, so maybe I need to take some more time still.
Whatever you do or however you feel, don’t pressure yourself.
5. Keep Your Eyes Open
If something feels weird about that person, make a mental note of it. Chances are, your weird feelings are telling you something. Don’t be afraid to ask questions—although you won’t want to grill the person to death like a sergeant— because if something doesn’t quite feel or sound right, you should follow up on that feeling.
Pay attention to how the person treats others around you while on the date—strangers, the elderly, wait staff, etc. How someone treats someone else, especially those that don’t have anything to give to them, is rather indicative of a person’s nature.
6. It’s Ok To Feel Many Emotions
Excited? Nervous? Even sad?
Having a bunch of emotions about the first date after a divorce is not unusual. When you do notice a particular feeling, make a note of it and ask yourself why you may be feeling that way. Also, it’s okay to let the feelings go and not hold onto them. This is a new beginning for you and new beginnings always come with a bunch of feelings, especially when it comes after something as difficult as divorce.
7. Take From The Experience
However it goes, whether amazing, good, so-so, or absolutely awful, take a lesson from the experience.
Did you simply just get your feet wet? Did you learn what questions to ask or not ask on a date after a divorce? Did you learn that maybe, lunch dates are still too much for you and you’d prefer to have coffee next go-round?
Just make sure you get something from the experience that is positive—even if it’s “I learned to be more selective with the dates I choose for next time.”
Dating after divorce can be complicated, but you don’t have to let it get too muddled. Stay positive, stick with the moment, and keep your eyes and ears peeled. Your instinct is usually smarter than you think!