Tips for Dating After Divorce
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Get Back Out There1 of 12
By Denise Schipani for Woman's Day
Dating after divorce can be a minefield. Diana Kirschner, Ph.D., author of Sealing the Deal: The Love Mentor's Guide to Lasting Love, notes that once you're back on the scene, you can feel like a teenager again, in that unconfident, not-sure-if-he'll-call sort of way. Read on for 10 tips that will help you get back in Cupid's good graces.
Get Ready2 of 12
Whether it's been one year or six since the divorce, you may never know with absolute clarity that you're ready for another relationship. Instead, "it’s usually clear when you’re not ready," says Susan Pease Gadoua, a therapist and author of Stronger Day by Day: Reflections for Healing and Rebuilding After Divorce. Once the idea of going on a date comes into your mind and you don't want to chase it out again, you're at least ready to start, she says.
Embrace The Fear3 of 12
Contemplating the dating scene, many divorced women feel not just nerves, but "actual terror," says Kirschner. Your fears are normal—after all, you are dealing with or have dealt with a major upheaval—and you don't have to jump all the way in. "Dip a toe in at a time. Tell a few trusted friends that you're interested in meeting people. Accept invitations to parties."
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Avoid The Negative4 of 12
While it's not unheard of for a woman wounded by a painful divorce to make statements like "all the good ones are taken," that's obviously not a good mindset to have going into dating, says Kirschner. "That kind of thinking can tank your mood and cause you to limit your chances of getting out there and finding love."
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Banish Self-Blame5 of 12
A divorcee may also feel as though there's something "wrong" with her since her marriage fell apart, says Kirschner. If that's the case, then start training yourself now to recognize self-sabotaging thoughts, and when self-doubts start to pop up, "visualize a giant red stop sign, or a voice yelling, 'Stop!'" she says.
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Set Your Intention6 of 12
You've decided to start dating—isn't that your "intention" right there? Not completely, says Kirschner. "Sit down and craft a statement of what, exactly, you're after. Is it a partner in life? A short-term liaison that might lead to something? Just some fun for now? The idea is that you should consciously decide how you want to proceed," which will, in turn, inform how you go about meeting people.
Rethink "Dating"7 of 12
Gadoua, who runs dating workshops for women, asks them to free-associate words that come to mind when they think of dating. Not surprisingly, words like awful and dreadful come up. If you feel the same way, then she offers this advice: "I suggest you try to reframe it as an adventure, or as an education," she says. And, of course, it's a way to get out of the house and have some fun.
Get Online8 of 12
It's possible that the last time you dated, there wasn't even an Internet, much less Internet dating. But if you think that searching for companionship online is strictly for losers or perverts, then forget it—that's as outmoded as dial-up. "Online dating is not only mainstream, it's one of the best ways to widen your search, rather than just hoping that you'll meet someone in the coffee shop," says Kirschner.
Don't Drag It Out9 of 12
Once you "meet" someone online, it's easy, says Kirschner, to build up a fantasy of what he or she is like based on the emails you exchange. "Meet in person within two weeks of making online contact." Might as well find out as soon as you can if the chemistry is real. Of course, when you do meet, take basic safety precautions. "Tell a friend where you'll be and when you expect to be home, and meet for coffee in a public place," suggests Kirschner.
Play The Numbers10 of 12
"Four out of five men you go out with will disappear," says Kirschner. It's just the nature of the dating world. He may have seemed great, but loses interest, or has problems you will never know about. Don't take it personally. Instead, try to remember that if you're meeting a lot of people, then sure, the number of bad apples will go up—but so will the odds that you'll meet a few good apples, too.
Date Around11 of 12
Kirschner recommends, at least to start with, dating several guys at the same time. Maybe one guy is very funny, but you enjoy another man's intellectual stimulation. "You can see what you might want in a relationship going forward," she says, even if it's not with any of these guys. One caveat: Be honest. "Just say, 'I'm enjoying dating you, but I want you to know that for now, I'm also seeing others casually.'"
Allow Yourself To Date12 of 12
Of course, if you have children at home, you shouldn't bring dates around unless it's somewhat serious. But don't let a fear of your kids being upset or disapproving stop you from getting out there if you feel ready. Says Gadoua, "Too many women hide behind their kids as an excuse not to date." Be upfront and respectful, but don't apologize for wanting to date.