For every person embarking on a return to dating after a divorce, each of their experiences will be unique. Some may be an emotional challenge, others a liberating adventure.
However, there are a few consistent things you’ll likely come across when dating no matter the person.
Getting back on the dating bike is already difficult enough, so make sure you know what to look out for.
Divorcees share common experiences they had when dating after divorce.
“I had to remind myself this new guy was someone I’ve just met, not my husband’s replacement”
As humans, we naturally aim to return to habits. For many people, being in a relationship for such a long time it can be difficult to remember what regular dating is. Many people instinctively want to return to a serious partnership, regardless of whether that was a happy one or not, simply because that’s what we’ve known for so long.
So when getting back into the dating scene, be cautious and take efforts to keep things casual. Not casual as in a meaningless fling, but casual in the sense that you’re just two people enjoying each other’s company. There are no overwhelming emotional attachments, not yet anyway.
Things should be kept casual so as not to inadvertently speed up this new relationship. Without applying the brakes just a little, it’s easy to find yourself swapping one life partner for another; even if the new relationship is not ready for that level of commitment.
“I never dated online before I was married, getting my head around dating apps was a challenge”
If you’re looking to find a new relationship through online dating, be aware there are people out there with ill-intent. As a recent divorcee, you’re a preferred target for online dating scammers. Fraudsters target divorcees more than any other group, mainly due to possible inexperience with dating sites and a more complex emotional state to prey upon.
Whether you believe yourself to clued up on the risks or confess to being unsure how best to protect yourself, be sure to follow the recommended advice when dating online. Look out for scammer tell-tale signs, such as:
- Working far from where they claim to live
- Claiming to be in the military or being overly religious
- Trying to move the conversation to another platform (e.g. WhatsApp)
- Resisting to meet or use video chat, or using excuses to ensure that doesn’t happen
- Sending links to non-reputable sites
- Asking for money to help with a bank transfer, for travel, etc. (Never send money to someone you’ve met online)
If you’re ever unsure of someone you’re chatting to online, be sure to bring up their profile with the dating site’s fraud detection team. They’ll be happy to address your concerns, and if they’re not, this isn’t the dating site for you.
“The hardest part was figuring out if I was ready to date again.”
Ask yourself if you’re ready to start dating and be confident that if the answer is no, that’s ok.
There is no obligation to start dating until you’re ready. For some people, it can be difficult to determine whether they’re at that stage or not. Ask yourself salient questions. Have you genuinely accepted the fact that you’re not getting back with your ex? Do you show frequent interest in the opposite/same sex? If you do have any anger/resentment, is that only directed to your ex and not potential partners in general?
For most, there will never be an ‘ok, I’m ready’ moment. For others, the knowledge they’re ready may come about six seconds after signing those documents. Take some time to consider your feelings, ask your friends and family their opinion and try dipping your feet into the dating pool to test your readiness.
Just remember, being ready to date again is a positive step, but it’s not one that needs to be rushed.
“He asked me about my marriage… I droned on for what must have been 15 minutes and ended the date tearing up.”
Questions about your past marriage(s) will come up, if not on the first date, then eventually. Make your life easier by keeping a brief and not overly emotional rundown of your dating history ready at hand. This may not seem necessary, but being caught off guard with the question may lead to an awkward answer.
This is especially true if you’re recently divorced, the question about ‘what happened’ will come up a lot and eventually you’ll have the divorce rundown rehearsed to a tee, until then not having a recap ready may become awkward.
Leave out the overly messy details, keep things brief (no one likes a potential partner going on and on about an ex) and most importantly appear positive and optimistic. Talk about the important things, how long ago you split up, how many kids you had, but keep it emotionally neutral.
A rehearsed recap will definitely be a handy addition on your next date.
“The main thought I had was, thank God, I’ll never have to marry a guy like that again.”
For even the most vicious divorces, they can still be an experience akin to losing a loved one. For that reason, there can be a subconscious desire to return to the norm, a return to the safety and security felt during the marriage; whether those moments were frequent or not. Those feelings can lead you to date someone very similar to your ex.
Rip up your rulebook and look wider to that what you already know. Try dating someone with stark differences to your ex, someone who will introduce you to new experiences and possibly new feelings.
Take this as an opportunity to consider what were the sources of anguish and anxiety in your marriage, what did your other half do that exacerbated the breakdown. Feel liberated in the knowledge that you can now date who you want, someone free from those damaging qualities.
Also take solace in the knowledge that if it doesn’t work out, then it just doesn’t work out. Going through a divorce, it can be difficult to keep in mind most relationship breakups aren’t the anarchic experience that your divorce may have been. Date outside your comfort zone, if it doesn’t work out, then use it as a learning experience. If it does work out, you’ll be introduced to a new part of yourself you never knew you had.
“I was so awkward at the whole dating thing, but honestly, that’s what made it kinda fun”
Dating isn’t all buttercups and roses, sometimes it’s difficult, awkward and a bit of a nuisance to get right. You’re probably a little rusty and might make a few ‘dating mistakes’, be comforted in the fact that that is perfectly fine.
For many people getting back into the dating world, the experience comes with a fear of getting it wrong. That so much has changed, so many new conventions and ways of doing things, it sometimes feels impossible to do it right.
The most important thing is not to worry, dating is challenging but it’s not brain surgery. Maybe there are new ways to date, new dating apps, new words to learn, but deep down its still two people meeting to see if they like each other. And if you make a few dating faux pas, who cares? You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.
Lover of romance, Lucy Jones is a resident dating expert for mature dating site toyboywarehouse.com. She specializes in helping mature women get the most out of dating. She’s a licensed relationship counselor and is twice divorced, which helps mix professional advice and real-life insights into her work. www.toyboywarehouse.com