Going on a first date after divorce has its challenges. One may have done well finding a person online that seems compatible or through an old-fashioned introduction. Now comes the hardest part: making a great first impression and sustaining that throughout the evening. A speech on networking at a Toastmasters International meeting had a lot in common with dating. The audience was surprised that when initially meeting someone, to keep 99% of the conversation on that person.
In networking, which also pertains to dating, begin with asking about their family and move on to what is their occupation. Ask what are their hobbies and interests, finishing up with inquiring what really matters to them. What gives meaning to their lives, their passion, and what makes them tick. People enjoy talking about themselves, and by asking these questions, you will be viewed as the most interesting person on the planet. There is now rapport, and it is a good time to start revealing fascinating tidbits about yourself.
Bombarding someone with your life story when first meeting them is a turn off. One acquaintance wondered why she rarely got a second date. She did not ask the above mentioned questions and focused the conversation solely on herself. A co-worker told too personal details about her body functions and friends’ sex lives. Have some decorum.
Have a friendly demeanor and be cognizant of your body language. Arms folded across your body can mean “stay away” or, as in martial arts, a sign of aggression. Nervous habits such as jingling change in your pocket or tapping your foot can be interpreted as impatience. Watch the amount of eye contact. Too little indicates lack of interest, and staring can be uncomfortable for the receiver.
Be up-to-date on current news and major sporting events, like the Super Bowl. Be able to have discussions, but try to veer away from religion and politics on a first date. Have some amusing stories about co-workers, travel adventures, and so forth ready in case you get tongue-tied or your mind goes blank. Pauses in conversation are okay and not every second has to be filled in by talking.
It is fine to mention that you are a parent, but hold the cute toddler tales. Let your date know you are a well-rounded adult, not a one-dimensional person. This does not only pertain to being a parent, but also when focusing on one aspect of your life. For example. I briefly dated an attorney whose whole existence revolved around his job. When I suggested that we see a film, he said that he did not own any casual clothes and would have to wear trousers from one of his suits. I knew this relationship would not work out, so ended it quickly.
A multi-faceted person is enticing. Having a full life before dating is more attractive to someone than having dating be your life. How to achieve this? Join some groups or clubs - hiking, dancing, conversational foreign language, or whatever is your interest. Volunteering and traveling expands your horizons and gives you topics for conversations. Networking and meeting new people avoids appearing desperate to find a new partner. People I knew whose life mission was to get married again seemed to scare away the very people they were trying to catch.
Look at dating as an adventure with ups and downs. The dates that do not work out can be a hilarious story at your next get-together, and you can laugh at your friends’ ones as well. I know people who now have life-long friends when they did not click on a romantic level when dating. Have some fun when getting back into the swing of dating again post-divorce.