Date Expectations: Getting back into the dating game after divorce

"Mars & Venus" expert Dr. John Gray offers tips on how to face your fears about dating and find the right partner post-divorce.

By John Gray, Ph.D.
Updated: November 30, 2015
Mars and Venus: Advice from John Gray

One of the biggest emotional challenges we face when divorced is getting over our concerns about dating. Some of us fear that the "dating game" has changed so drastically, we won't be able to live up to its new (and, we expect, hardly improved) rules; others worry that dating may in fact be everything we remember -- including the broken hearts. While we dread the unknown, we are more afraid of the consequences of missed opportunities: after all, if we don't get back up on the dating horse, the odds are a long shot that we'll ever ride into the sunset with our true love.

By taking the time to understand your fears, your desires, and your feelings, you can beat the odds. For example, some Venusians may suppress their feelings of loss. This in turn diminishes their abilities to feel, and may lead them to the misimpression that "the right man" will open them up. These women then seek "dramatic tension" in future relationships. By waiting for the right guy to awaken their passion for living, they may never find what they think they're looking for.

A man's issues are different. Many men feel physical or sexual attraction first before turning their attentions to other traits that might encourage further interest. A man rebounding after a divorce may seek sexual comfort before dealing with the feelings that will help him look beyond the initial attraction and recognize the qualities that make for successful partnerships.

These mistakes may cause you to seek out the wrong partners, or have unrealistic expectations of the dating process. If and when you strike out, you may lose your motivation to keep dating. Your true goal should be threefold:

  1. realizing your emotional needs;

  2. determining the traits that you seek in a soul mate, and

  3. meeting enough people so that you can find a possible partner.

Here are tips that will help you accomplish this goal:

Tip #1: Take the time to make a list of your emotional needs.
This is an essential step to take prior to getting back into the dating game. Why? Because if you don't take the time to know what you want, you won't recognize it when you find it, or you'll waste your time by looking in the wrong place or at the wrong people.

Tip #2: Be realistic when making your emotional needs list. 
Sometimes we sabotage our chances of finding love by expecting a relationship to be problem-free, or by creating an impossible wish list for what we seek in a mate. For your next committed relationship, get real. That means prioritizing the traits you want in a partner -- and expecting that some traits (preferably the least important ones) may not make the cut.

Tip #3: Remember, successful dating experiences first require a willingness to date. 
Most people make the mistake of dropping out of dating when they don't find the right person, thinking that the process is too much of a hassle. In fact, the more people you date, the more likely it will be that you'll find someone that embodies many of the soul mate traits you seek. If you strike out, don't blame yourself. Instead, recognize that some people you meet are better off as friends, or distant acquaintances, and move on.

Tip #4: Don't judge your dates by your last relationship. 
It's a new life, and the people you meet aren't your ex. Sure, they may have their own hang-ups, but that is what dating is about: discovering what you like -- or don't like -- about someone who attracts you. Remember: you can't stay in the game if you won't play.


John Gray's relationship and health books have sold more than 50 million copies in 50 different languages. His groundbreaking book, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, is the best-selling non-fiction book of all time. It launched his Mars Venus book series that forever changed the way men and women view their relationships.

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By John Gray, Ph.D.| May 27, 2008

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