The precarious realm of modern dating after divorce can be beset with pitfalls and peril. The all-consuming horror show that is divorce can leave you feeling more like a zombie than a real person. Past hurts can make it seem impossible to ever be romantically interested in someone new. Even a somewhat amicable split can leave you scarred and pessimistic regarding love, dating and rejoining the ranks of “single and looking.”
The Idea of Dating After Divorce Can Seem Daunting
If the divorce was fraught with custody battles, alimony judgements, division of assets and overall nastiness, you may feel more inclined to sail the world alone rather than ever entertain the idea of putting yourself out there again. The idea of jumping back into the frigid waters of dating after a divorce can seem daunting.
I should know. I’ve been through this four times. That’s right, I said it: I have been married four times. If anyone is an expert at dating, it’s this girl right here.
So, what do you need to know? What is the modern dating scene really like? Does everyone meet online? What do those perils and pitfalls look like?
One of the most important things about reentering the dating world is to remember that being married changes you. Whether you were married for 10 months or 10 years, you cannot approach dating from the same head space you did in years past.
It’s Okay To Go Slow
It’s okay to move slowly at first. Don’t do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. If you’d prefer to dip your toes in the water rather than doing a dive bomb, that’s okay. Do a gut check. If you’d rather browse dating profiles anonymously online before creating a real profile, just to get your bearings, then do it. If you want to hit up a local singles hot spot with a good book and an inquisitive eye before talking to potential dates, do so. When you do reach out, remember not to focus on past hurts. Don’t constantly talk about your divorce or your ex. It’s a new day with new opportunities, including opportunities for dating after divorce. Embrace them.
Online Dating Is A Great Starting Place
Upon reentering the dating world, one of the best places to start is online dating. In a world where 54% of couples report meeting online, I think it’s safe to assume that the majority of single people, even those who won’t cop to it, maintain an online dating profile. From the perspective of meeting new people, there’s really no medium that can compete.
Online dating doesn’t carry the stigma that it did even 10 years ago. At the risk of sounding like your high school alter ego: Everyone is doing it. There are a variety of online dating sites: Match.com, OkCupid.com, PlentofFish.com, EHarmony.com, and hundreds more. These sites have become one-stop shops for finding a mate.
The great thing about online dating after divorce is that you can literally pick and choose from thousands of profiles and photos. You can weed out potential dates by age, education or even interests. Dating no longer depends upon the serendipitous fates smiling down upon you in a grocery store aisle, causing you to bump into someone you are both attracted to and find interesting. Nope. Just fire up your laptop, log on your smartphone or browse profiles on your e-reader.
Tips for Creating a Profile
When setting up your profile, think about what you’re hoping to get out of this dating experience. Are you into casual dating, looking for someone to travel with or hoping to meet the next love of your life? Sites like OkCupid and Match offer a space on the dating profile where users can indicate what they’re looking for. It’s important to be as honest as possible in your profile. Post a recent photo–one taken in the last year. Don’t fudge your height, weight or job status. If you are currently separated but not yet divorced, be sure to indicate that in you profile stats. If you are between jobs, say so. It’s fine to focus on the positives, but don’t lie. It’s better to be up front in the beginning then to go on a few dates with someone, decide you really like them and have them dump you because they don’t feel you’ve been forthcoming.
Each platform engages users in a different way. Some offer paid memberships, while others are free. The common theme amongst each one, however, is that users can communicate with one another via private message.
Be Careful With Online Communications
There are a few things to remember about communicating with people online. First, be careful not to divulge too much personal information. No need to tell someone you just met the name of the company you work for. If they ask you to specify where you’re from, indicating a section of town is fine.
Second, if you click with someone through email ask to move the conversation offline. If you’re dealing with someone who refuses to talk to you on the phone, end the correspondence. There’s a good chance that the person is not who they are representing themselves to be. Additionally, emailing in online dating forums can turn into a never ending debacle of pointless missives. If you’re interested in getting to know someone, the sooner you can move the relationship out of the virtual world and into the real one, the better.
Online dating has advantages and disadvantages, like anything else. Brave souls who have traversed the cyber-terrain in search of love or a dinner date sometimes find that online dating is not for them, and that’s okay. I know what you’re thinking: don’t people meet in person anymore?
People do still meet organically. If you’re looking to connect with someone you have common interests with, I suggest visiting Meetup.com, a website that matches people according to their interests. You can join a group interested in writing, karate, coding–just about anything you can imagine. Most “clubs” meet at least once a month. It’s a stellar opportunity to interact with new people. Who knows. You may meet someone who catches your eye.
Put Yourself Out There
There’s also the old stand by: wait for fate to intervene. Put yourself out there. Visit your favorite coffee house. Go to concerts with your friends. Stop in at your favorite watering hole for a solo drink.
The important thing is to be open to new experiences. It’s a big world out there. Open yourself up to the possibilities. Time for you to join the ranks of the living.