The Do’s and Don’ts of Online Dating After Divorce

By: Andra Brosh, Ph.D.
: November 01, 2016

Dating after divorce is a unique process that embodies its own set of guidelines because of the nature of your situation. Your divorce has changed you in many ways, and in particular, it has shifted your views on love, marriage, and relationships.

Before you even dive into the online dating pool, you’ll want to answer yes to the following questions:
  • Have I completed my marital relationship even though my divorce isn’t final?
  • Am I clear about what I’m bringing to a relationship and what I want my new partner to offer?
  • Have I cleared away all of the negative debris from my marriage ending?
  • Do I have a one-line description of why my marriage ended?
  • Am I completely clear about who I am right now and what I need in a relationship?

These are just a few of the inquiries you can present to yourself to ensure that you’re in tip-top shape to start dating. 

The most important insight you can have beyond all of the suggestions you’re receiving here is to realize that you are not looking for what you had. Trying to replace a partner or marriage is impossible because every relationship is unique and needs to be honored for what it was.

Going forward, you are setting an intention to meet someone who is right for you right now. You’ve inevitably changed a lot since you got married, so it’s essential that you bring all that you’ve learned about the new you to your dating journey. 

The actual dating process can be tricky after divorce as well. Rejection will take on a different tone, and inevitably, you might be feeling a bit uncertain about your viability as a catch. Insecurity is normal, but you want to have a handle on it and know how to deal with setbacks and issues as they come.

Here are the do’s and don’ts as you start the process of online dating after divorce:

Don’t Pine.
In general, the chances of getting a response on an online dating site are low. Sitting by the computer waiting for a response and trying to analyze what the other person is thinking or feeling is called “pining”. You have no idea what’s going on for any individual even though you’ll want to try and be a mind reader. Until they explicitly tell you something about how they feel, you know nothing, so don’t create more stress and suffering for yourself by making up stories and getting obsessed with a person you have never met.

Do Detach.
Once you send a message or contact a person, just move on. You might hear back, you might not, so just detach yourself from an outcome. This person’s response is not an indicator of your value or desirability, so don’t get stuck on one option. Keep your net wide and just keep reaching out because online dating is completely a numbers game. The more people you contact, the greater your return. It’s easy to build someone up into a “perfect match”, but what you see is not always what you’ll get.

Don’t Invest
As a rule, it’s never good to invest in someone until you know them fairly well. There is no reason in the world why you should give any part of yourself to someone until you can trust that it’s even remotely worth it. Your time, energy, and heart are valuable, so hold this sacred until someone is worthy. Investing can be spending too much time thinking about this person, showing the match to friends or family before you’ve met, or imagining the first date.

Do Research.
Read each profile fully, and get a really good sense of each person before. Try not to just go on looks because inevitably you have a certain “type” you’re drawn to, and that may not equate with your best match. Dig beneath the surface and read into what a person writes or how they present. It can be helpful to have some bottom lines of what you’re looking for like a level of education or children out of the home. You want to avoid blindly searching and picking because a solid narrow search is better than a misdirected one.

Don’t Presume.
Never presume that what you see is what you get. It’s best to reduce expectations until you meet someone because getting excited about a person based on their profile will lead to disappointment more often than not. Keep your cool and be patient and open, but avoid building a person up before you know the truth. You might be tempted to make presumptions about a person, and these presumptions will be designed to make the personal a viable option for you even if they aren’t.

Do Reality.
Sticking to the facts and research of online dating, including response statistics, likelihood of a match, and the reality of how many people on the site are seriously looking will help you keep perspective. According to the Pew Research Center, one-third of people who have used online dating have never actually gone on a date with someone they met on these sites. The dating sites are selling you a dream just like the culture sells a dream of marriage. Be mindful of not getting pulled into the fantasy, and stay connected to reality for your own sanity.

Have fun with the process, but make sure you’re ready and able to embrace all that online dating has to offer. Finding someone on an online dating site is a viable option and, if done well, can bring you the partner you’re destined to meet.