From jumping with joy to feeling bittersweet (or just plain bitter), your divorce no doubt left you with a host of different emotions. But the longer you’re separated the more likely it is that you’ll want to jump back into the dating pool.
Dating can feel like a strange new adventure, especially if you were married for a number of years. Now there are apps to deal with, ghosting to learn about, and a whole new world of dating etiquette—or lack thereof.
If you’re ready to put your heart back out there but aren’t sure where to begin, fear not. Learning how to re-enter the dating game after being married for so long doesn’t have to be a disaster. Here are some common mistakes newly divorced daters are making and how you can avoid them.
Rushing into things.
Dating is both scary and exciting, but the key to making it work is ensuring you’re truly ready to commit to someone new. One of the most common mistakes when dating after getting out of a serious relationship is jumping in too soon.
Often times when you’re married for a significant period of time, you begin to identify more as a couple than as an individual. While this is completely natural, it can also leave you feeling completely lost when you and your spouse are no longer together.
Instead of taking the time to find out who they are, what they like and to process the hurt the divorce has caused them, eager individuals jump straight into a rebound relationship.
Don’t date before you’re ready. Even if you’re feeling lonely, it’s important to take some time after your divorce to rediscover yourself, boost your confidence, and enjoy your alone-time before getting into a new relationship.
Putting on an act.
It’s natural to want to make a good impression on a first date. You want to look your best, feel confident, and charm your potential partner—but you shouldn’t do so by lying.
Instead of making changing personality to suit a potential new partner, just be yourself. It saves everyone a lot of time and energy.
You’ve already been in an unhappy marriage, why start an unhappy relationship based on a false sense of self? Be yourself. This is the best way to find someone who truly understands and enjoys you.
Not knowing what you want.
While you may not be in a relationship right now, marriage courses can help you find out what you want out of a relationship and how to strengthen a connection with someone new.
A marriage course is a great tool because it teaches you how to better yourself as both a person and a partner. Marriage courses often contain such lessons as compassion, communication, setting goals, building intimacy, and finding out what role traditions play in your relationships.
Not to mention, marriage courses can be taken online, so they’re private and convenient for you.
Don’t settle for being in a relationship where you feel frustrated or disconnected. Instead, learn new skills to overcome the more challenging aspects of being in a serious relationship.
Talking about your ex.
“It’s refreshing to see you ordered something that wasn’t on the kid’s menu—My ex-husband was so cheap, he used to do that all the time!”
“When me and my ex first got married, I thought we were going to be together forever. She really hurt me.”
“Oh, you’ve been to Paris? My ex and I went there two years ago.”
Do any of these sentences sound like something you want to hear on a first date? Absolutely not! This is why one of the biggest and most uncomfortable dating dilemmas to avoid is talking about your ex.
Your date does not need to hear a twenty-minute monologue about what went wrong in your relationship or about how you’re feeling now that your marriage has ended. If you end up in a serious relationship with the person sitting across the table from you, the details regarding both of your former relationships will come up naturally.
Until then, keep the conversation upbeat.
Not being attentive.
It really should go without saying that if you’re out on a date with someone, especially someone new, the last thing you should be doing is checking your phone. Even if it’s a particularly bad date, just do the polite thing and stick it out without resorting to texting friends or checking social media.
People’s irritation with smart devices in a romantic setting is highlighted in a Baylor University survey. The school polled 308 adults and found that nearly 50 percent felt they were being “phubbed”, or “phone-snubbed” by their spouse. This happens when you feel like your partner is ignoring you in favor of playing on their cell phone.
If you absolutely must check your phone while you’re on a date, apologize to the person you’re with and give an explanation for why you had to check your phone. “I usually don’t do this/don’t mean to be rude, but…”
Being too afraid to connect.
Whether you were the one filing for divorce or you were shocked by your spouse’s request to separate, divorce isn’t an easy thing to go through. This is especially true if you experience betrayal from the person who was supposed to love and protect you.
That said, don’t let what happened in your marriage prevent you from being vulnerable with someone new.
Dating has the potential of being a wonderful experience that can lead to a meaningful and fulfilling relationship. Don’t close yourself off to the possibilities.