Once the dust has settled and we have come to terms with our new life and have given ourselves time to heal our wounds, the idea of sharing our lives with another start to surface. You may have sworn blind that you would never get involved with someone else in that way again, but as time passes, the reality is, many of us want to dip our toe in the big ocean of dating again.
So I thought it would be a great idea to compile a list of top 10 tips to take into consideration when you have decided to get out there!
1. Figure out if you are ready
This may sound obvious but you'd be surprised how many of us just take to dating again to fill in a void or fix what they see as the missing thing in their lives. Before you even start to compile an online dating profile (if that's how you want to go!) or going out on blind dates (if you have great friends who arrange these!), you should first ask yourself whether you are ready. Are you ready to spend time seeing if you connect with someone? Are you ready to handle the disappointment of dating? Are you ready to share your emotions? Are you ready to let someone in? Dating is a big step after divorce and it shouldn't be rushed. Be kind to yourself, take time out to answer the questions above and if it is 'yes', then dive in. If your response were no's, you're not ready. You will be in time, but just take a little time out to be as ready as you can be for you. It's a personal thing, no one can tell you if you are ready to date, you'll feel it.
2. Feel the fear... and do it anyway
The mere thought of going on a date, getting ready, heading out to meet up with someone you have perhaps only shared a few calls or messages with, striking up a conversation with a stranger.... IT'S SCARY! But that's ok, what you're experiencing is fear, fear of the unknown, fear of something new, fear of not getting it 'right', fear of putting yourself out there, the list is endless. The thing is, despite all of these fears, you should face them and jump in. Do it anyway. No one ever grew by playing it safe. By facing your fears and by taking these challenges, you develop as a person. But remember, you can't skip to tip 2 until you've passed tip one.
3. Generate lists of 'Must have' and "Must not have'
Divorce will mean that you now have a clear idea of what you want and don't want in a new partner. You may be in a different place in your life now, the idea of children may be appealling or perhaps you don't want to go back there. You may have developed new interests and so finding someone who can share in these is important to you now. The point of this tip is to make sure you have a clear idea of what you are looking for in a new partner at this stage of your life and by creating these lists you make sure you are staying true to what you really are looking. These lists will help you so that you don't get tied up in the dating game without any real end goal.
4. Release expectations
Ok, reality time. Life is not a movie and it's certainly not a Hollywood romance box office hit ! No date is perfect and no one is perfect. Going on a date means being open to what is out there and also being open to the idea that it may take a while to find someone you are interested in seeing again. Don't set the bar too high but don't also set it too low, just be real. Be realistic about the fact that you are unlikely to see the man/woman of your dreams on your first date. Once you realise that you need to be patient and that dating can actually be fun, you'll relax so much more and get to enjoy this new experience.
5. Take Baby Steps
So you may have found someone that you are keen on seeing again and it feels nice. Those emotions that you thought were going to be hidden forever, those lovely warm feelings are back, resurfacing and it feels great ! Hold on ! Don't rush.. take your time. Allow the experience to evolve organically. Make sure you are still engaging in all the activities that you were engaged with before you met this new person. Don't stop seeing your friends and don't make excuses to make yourself available all the time. Just do what you were doing before and make time when you can for this new person. Take it slow, if they're right for you, they'll still be there when you've finished what you had planned to do anyway.
6. Dating is a numbers game.
They say that statistically, 4 of the 5 people you were talking to online, disappear. It's just the nature of the dating world. He/she may have seemed great, but loses interest, enters into another relationship, or has problems you will never know about. Don't take it personally, and instead try to remember that if you're meeting a lot of people, the number of bad apples will go up — but so will the odds that you'll meet a few good apples too.
7. Dating around
Experts say that when you start dating you should start by dating several people at the same time. For a couple of reasons: First, you're not putting all your eggs (or hopes) into one basket. Second, you can compare what you like and don't like. Maybe one person is very funny, but you enjoy another person's intellectual stimulation. You can see what you might want in a relationship going forward, even if it's not with any of the people you are currently talking to.
8. Be honest
This goes in line with number 7. Though I do fully support seeing multiple people at one time when you first start dating, there's one caveat: making sure everyone knows. Just say, 'I'm enjoying dating you, but I want you to know that for now I'm also seeing others casually'. There is no need to fully commit, until you have both decided together to be exclusive to each other.
9.Don't let your children stop you
Hopefully it's obvious to you that if you have children at home, you shouldn't bring dates around unless it's somewhat serious. That said, don't let a fear of your children being upset or disapproving stop you from getting out there if you feel ready to. Too many women and men hide behind their kids as an excuse not to date. Be up-front and respectful, but don't apologise for wanting to date. In actual fact, you may be surprised to learn that most children just want their parent to be happy, and may be less likely to object than you imagine.
10. Have fun !
Don't forget the most important tip of all! The thing I found most interesting about dating again, is how much fun I could have meeting a variety of different people ! Relax, laugh, enjoy and if you have some interesting stories to tell, share them ! My married friends loved hearing about my dating stories and often told me they were living vicariously through me and thought I was so lucky to be meeting new men ! They were right. I loved every minute of it.