Dating After Divorce: How the Rules Have Changed

Now that you're divorced and considering re-entering the dating scene, remember that the rules have probably changed since you last went on a date. While entering unfamiliar territory may be scary, being prepared will help ease the stress and making dating fun.

By Anne-Marie Pritchett
August 30, 2016
rules have changed in dating after divorce

Dating rules have changed in the digital era. They've moved from handwritten letters in the 18th century to text messages in the 21st. There’s no avoiding technology when it comes to dating. So, what does this mean to you when you're getting back into the scene after a divorce? Here’s a tutorial on how technology fits into modern-day dating and how you can embrace it.

Popular Dating Sites

Matchmaker sites continue to grow in popularity. Forty million Americans are looking for love online, according to Dating sites like and mobile dating apps like Tinder see people of all ages (over 18, of course) using their services. The number of 55- to 64-year-olds using this form of dating service has doubled in the past three years, according to Pew Research Center.

It might be scary at first to try online dating, but the benefits may payoff in the end. Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular sites and apps:

  • A successful dating site that has led to the most relationships of any online site. Use for casual dates or deep relationships.
  • A sophisticated site where singles are looking for a more serious relationship.
  • A matchmaking service made to connect devout Christian singles.
  • Exclusively for the 50+ age bracket. This site is quickly gaining popularity for mature serious daters.
  • A popular site with over 13 million users looking to hook up.
  • Zoosk: A smartphone app that works with social networks to set users up on both casual and serious dates.
  • A site exclusively for parents looking for dates or serious relationships.
  • Tinder: An easy-to-use app that gives daters access to user’s social media sites to vet them. It’s the "swipe right, swipe left" app.
  • Tastebuds: A dating app that sets up people with similar music taste.


Text Etiquette When Dating

Texting is a fact of life in the dating world. You may not be as savvy as someone who has been in the dating scene for a decade, so brush up on your texting skills. Your kids or your single friends can help you with text etiquette and how to use emoticons to give feeling to your texts. Here are some basic tips for texting with your date:

  • Keep texts brief: If you have something more to say than a quick hello, thank you for the lovely time, or let's hang out, give them a call or save it for the face-to-face.

  • Be patient: Some people don’t always have their phone handy or can’t text at certain times, so be patient when waiting for a response. Don’t blow up their phone with multiple texts and question marks wondering where they are.

  • Use emoticons: Emoticons help define the intention of your text. It’s easy for someone to take what you say the wrong way because your tone doesn’t come through in a text. It’s a completely new language. Some of the 800 emoticons out there have double meanings, so keep that in mind when using them (you can use this to your advantage if you're sending a funny or flirty text).

  • Send a text after the date: Send a brief text an hour or so after the date if it went well. Mention a memorable moment from the night. After a couple of texts, if you want to have a conversation, give them a call, especially if they've communicated to you that they prefer calling over texting.


New Rules

With advances in technology and smartphone communication come new rules to dating that include:
  • The "three day" rule to communicate after a date is done. It’s completely acceptable to let them know you had a good date later that evening or the next day.
  • Women can pick up the tab or offer to split the bill.
  • Dates aren’t just dinners anymore. Experience or adventure dates are becoming popular.
  • The old days of the man picking the woman up for a first date are done. Meet up at the date site, especially on the first date. You may not want them knowing where you live after you spend 15 minutes with them.


Some Things Never Change

Even with the new rules, some things never change:

  • Don’t jump into sex on a first date. Get to know each other first to keep the intrigue and mystery.
  • Men still make the first move most of the time, but more and more women are taking on the role.
  • First impressions still count. It takes about 15 minutes to decide if you could be compatible with a date you meet through an online service.

  • It’s still nice to bring flowers or offer a romantic gesture on follow-up dates.

  • People still dress to impress.
  • He should always open the door for her.


What You Might Get Judged On

There are some things that people judge their dates on. A "Singles in America" study specified exactly what women and men will take notice of when it comes to their date.

  • Tattoos: Sixty-two percent of men will make an opinion about a lady from her tattoos.

  • Clothes: Women form their highest opinions on their date’s clothes.

  • Location of first date: It’s probably best to consider your date’s interests when choosing a location for the first date. If they mentioned that they don’t like fish, then taking them to a seafood restaurant probably won’t get you a second date.

  • Attitude: The way you treat others, including the server at the restaurant, is important.

  • Cell phone: If you’re still sporting an old RAZR phone, it’s time for an upgrade. Flip phones tell your date that you aren’t tech-savvy and that you might be struggling money-wise. Get a nice, respectable smartphone like the iPhone 6 to show you are doing well in the 21st century.

Doing Your Research

Most people do a Google search on their date and look for potential deal breakers. The Internet and social media offer the opportunity to do a little research on your date. Google them, take a look at their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, and look for red flags. Knowing a little about them before you meet up helps you loosen up as well. Get ideas on conversation starters and shared interests so you aren’t at a loss for words after the drinks arrive.

Dating after divorce in the modern age might be scary, but it can be fun, too. Some rules have changed and some haven't. The fact of the matter is that online dating offers singles the chance to meet someone with similar interests to share their life with.

Anne-Marie Pritchett is a freelance writer who enjoys exploring the outdoors, visiting different cultures, digging into new music, and cuddling her new baby. When she gets some free time, she likes to check out local gastropubs and attempt to speak in her British accent.

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August 30, 2016

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