What is it like dating after divorce?

If you were married for many years, you will get a big culture shock from today’s “dating game”.   There are a new set of rules of what is and is not acceptable when dating.  You might feel differently to when you had previously dated – for example, you might feel more vulnerable.  You will also be surprised by some of the emotional reactions that you have.

Here is some advice I can give you about what it’s like to date after being married and divorced.

There are new rules to dating

People treat each other much worse than they used to in the good old days, especially with online dating.  It’s acceptable to date more than one person at a time and to have sex much sooner, not waiting for commitment or emotions to be involved. There is a period of time during which you just meet for weekly dates, often with little communication in between, and this can often last several months before the possibility of a relationship is discussed. During this time, people may continue to date others and message others online on the various dating sites. At first you may find this very difficult when you are used to the easy intimacy of a long-term relationship.

You might feel less confident about yourself when dating after divorce

You may find that you feel more vulnerable now you are no longer in a long-term relationship. You may have been quite secure before, but now you may become insecure either because of a new fear of getting hurt or wanting to get emotionally close too quickly.

Don’t let it all hang out!

You may have been used to being very honest about your ups and downs, but now you will need to hold back. It’s not considered to be very sexy to talk about your difficulties, divorce or weaknesses in the first few dates! You may need to plan carefully what you are going to mention and not mention those first few times, otherwise it may all just come pouring out. You need to make sure you are getting support elsewhere so your dates see the best of you until you reach the relationship stage. Even if you are both going through divorce difficulties and can empathise with each other, it’s important not to let this dominate your conversations.

always connected, internet addiction, young couple in cafe looking at their smartphones, social network concept

Online dating – is it for me? 

It’s a good way to make immediate contact with lots of people and you may enjoy online chats if you don’t have much time to get out. But what is considered normal behaviour in dating has changed a lot as a result of the online dating world. It’s a very tough place to be, with lots of rejections. You might be better using www.meetup.com, where you can meet new friends face-to-face in a variety of groups catering for different interests, rather than focusing on romantic encounters.

Which sites are best for me?

If you do decide to do online dating, free sites such as www.okcupid.com and loveandfriends.com are good starting places. You may want to avoid Tinder and similar if you are looking for more than just “hook-ups”.

We think we have met “the one” quite quickly

You can very easily build up a fantasy person from online chatting which bears very little resemblance to the actual person! We all project our own wishes and needs onto the person based on online messaging.

At first, you may be so relieved to meet someone you can talk to and let your guard down with, that you ignore things that aren’t right about the person for a while. As you date more people, you’ll learn to notice these and become more picky early on. Read back over the messages AFTER things don’t work out and you’ll spot the signs ….

Tread with caution and forgive yourself your mistakes

As dating is difficult at the best of times, let alone when you are readjusting, the most important advice for dating after divorce is to not rush into anything too quickly.  You may really feel that the new love interest is perfect but be patient and wait for the initial excitement to die down so that you can see the person for who they really are.

If they turn out not to be right, do not beat yourself up about it – you will probably have to date several wrong people to find the right person.  Just try to learn from each person you date, what you like and don’t like, and be grateful for the good times.

 

 

Rachel New works in the area of psychology and is, among other things, a dating coach. Find her on Facebook  or visit her website. Do get in touch if you

* have any dating dilemmas that you need to discuss

* need advice on setting up an online profile

* want guidance on how to message people on the dating websites

* think you might benefit from coaching to improve your conversation skills on dates

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