Putting yourself back into the dating game after going through a divorce can be as exciting as it is scary and nerve-racking. It’s important to feel comfortable and ready to date again before actually putting yourself back out there. And when you’re finally ready to ditch the divorcee title for ‘single and ready to mingle’ there are a few dos and don’ts specific to dating after a divorce that you should look out for.
To help you out, we talked to numerous experts to see what they had to say about what you should and shouldn’t do while getting back into the dating game as a divorcee.
DO prepare yourself mentally.
Jodi Aman, a psychotherapist and author of You 1, Anxiety 0, says, “Fear of rejection often stops people even when they’re ready and hopeful to find someone new. Their divorce or even the ex may have influenced them to think they’re not good enough, a failure, or not pretty enough. They feel so tender that they don’t think they could handle being hurt again.” It’s important to have enough confidence to put yourself out there and risk meeting people who you may not match with.
DO have fun.
You don’t always have to be on a mission to find someone. Dating should be fun, not work. “Try some new hobby like canoeing, or playing kickball to expand your social circles. These are great places to have fun, meet new people, and possibly pick up a date or two,” says Aman.
DO go online.
Work, kids, and life in general can leave you too exhausted to get out and mingle every night, so don’t rule out online dating. Lyss Stern, parenting expert and CEO of divamoms.com, says, “There are many wonderful dating apps and websites today where you can start to meet like-minded people.”
DON’T keep it a secret.
If embarrassment or shame is keeping you from voicing your desire to date again, stop! “Tell your friends you’re ready to date. Most relationships start as fix ups from a friend,” says Aman. And, if your friends can already vouch for this new person, even better.
DO trust your intuition.
If a date isn’t going well or if you don’t feel the other person, move on. “Too many people have doubt in themselves and give others too many chances when their gut is saying no. Don’t second guess yourself. Move on from what isn’t working quickly,” says Aman.
DO watch how your date treats others.
They show the utmost respect for you on dates, but how are they treating the restaurant servers? “Keep your eyes and ears on how they treat the bartender, how they talk about their ex, their kids, other coworkers, and their friends. This will give you a good idea of their character,” says Aman.
Remember that it’s not a big deal if you’re just not feeling it. You’re going to meet people who you don’t like or people who don’t like you. It’s all part of the process. “If you are ready to start dating again make sure to smile, laugh and remember it’s just a date. You don’t have to marry the person,” says Stern.
DO open your heart.
Opening your heart doesn’t make you vulnerable, says Aman. “You can feel fulfilled, joyful and still set boundaries! Take a chance and push past your fear of rejection. Connection makes life worth living and improves your mental and physical health.”
DON’T hide anything.
You don’t have to reveal EVERYTHING on the first date but make sure you have open communication with the new person you’re dating. “You do not want to go into a new relationship hiding anything. The truth always comes out. Better for the truth to come out from the start rather than a few months into the relationship,” says Stern.
DO be open minded.
Just like needing an open heart, you must go into the dating world with an open mind. Just because they don’t meet your height requirements or financial status, doesn’t mean they’re not a match for you. Give people a chance. “It will be very different from when you were in your 20s and without children,” says Stern.
DON’T bash your ex.
You would hate if your date only talked about their ex, so don’t do it either. As Stern says, “everything in moderation.” It’s OK to bond over past hurts but don’t let it get out of hand.
DON’T throw yourself all in at first.
Take your time and take it slow, says Stern. “Of course there are exceptions. If you find yourself falling in love on the first date, then by all means, go with it.” But be careful that you’re not letting your initial excitement get in the way of your best judgement.
When you meet someone who isn’t working for you, don’t think that it’s this person or nothing, says Stern. “There are always more fish in the sea. Move on. Be patient. You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince. Don’t give up!”