One of the biggest challenges I faced following my divorce was getting back into the dating scene. The other challenge I faced was moving to Atlanta for a fresh start, where I knew very few people. My personal dating pool was zero. However, I did recognize this was a wonderful opportunity to meet some new people, have some fun, and understand myself better.
Healing and transition are an important part of the recovery process. When you consider dating after divorce, the most common piece of advice that you hear is don't rush; that you shouldn't date until you are ready. As overdone as this piece of advice is, it's true and important. What counts as readiness? If you're still crying at the mention of your partner's name or you talk about them in every conversation with friends, you're obviously not ready. On the other hand, you may be ready if you've taken stock of the lessons you've learned from the marriage or long-term relationship that you've come out of.
A relationship that you've ended can have valuable lessons to offer you. You can look at what you expected going in, and the ways in which you were disappointed. You can look at what you thought was important in a spouse before you got married and what real experience taught you differently.
One of the most regrettable mistakes that people make dating after divorce is not making full use of the valuable experience that they've gained through their marriage. They never gain new insight into their own minds. Once you've taken stock and done the personal research necessary into the marriage that you've just ended, you could be ready to give dating another shot. You could also be ready if you're open to developing new friendships.
Here are five tips to help ease you back into the dating scene. These tips are not recommended to help you find your next great love. Rather, they're to boost your confidence, help you expand your network of dating possibilities, gain dating experience, and most important of all — have fun.
1. Online Dating
The first thing I did when I moved to Atlanta was try online dating. Surprisingly, it wasn't that scary. I think the key is selecting a dating site you feel comfortable joining based on your age and budget. I felt I needed to start somewhere and decided to give it a try. I put in my profile that I was new to the city and looking to meet people. I also put in my profile that a great date would be something unique to Atlanta. I went on 10 wonderful dates and discovered some fun things to do in Atlanta. I never dated the same guy twice, but that was okay. It lifted my self-esteem which, as you might imagine, was a little wounded from my divorce.
2. Make A Friend Part Of It
If you're navigating the dating scene for the first time in years, you can feel bewildered at all that's new. You can feel wonderfully free about the possibilities you see for yourself, sad about old memories and excited, all at the same time. When you're as emotional as this, it could be a good idea to have a familiar face around. The first couple of times that you date, consider taking a friend along on a double date. It can help calm you down, and you'll feel more comfortable about your exciting new experiences. If a friend wants to introduce you to someone, have them do the introductions over dinner with a few mutual friends. It alleviates the pressure on both parties. If there's interest, then the next step is exchange phone numbers and go from there.
3. Join A Group
When I moved to Atlanta, I thought what group could I join to meet all kinds of quality people. There are meet-up groups wherever you live, doing things you'd enjoy or like to learn. Join one that's co-ed so you can increase your dating possibilities. I joined a card group and played cards with them twice a month in different restaurants around the city. I also joined Toastmasters International, a group which helps you improve your public speaking skills. What was surprisingly beneficial for me was how much participating in Toastmasters lifted my self-confidence and improved my communication skills. As a result, I was at ease in conversation with whoever I was dating.
4. Do Your Best To Stay Positive
In your second go-around of the dating scene, it can be difficult to stay as naturally hopeful of true love as you were when you dated before ever marrying. You can find yourself despairing at the futility of dreaming about love, feel insecure about how you look, and find that minor letdowns upset you far more than they once used to. A little loss of face is only natural, though.
It takes time to rebuild your confidence in life after a divorce. You need to pay special attention to staying positive. Reading books or listening to podcasts that boost your faith in life, yourself, and love are important. Create a mantra and whenever you feel doubtful say it to yourself. Say that mantra silently, say it out loud, say it in front of the mirror, and say it as often as you need to hear it. Here's one of my favorites: "Smile, you sexy, vibrant, beautiful woman — you are going to love again, and it will be magnificent!"
5. Work On Yourself
One of the men I dated said to me, "So many women want to date me because I'm healthy and financially secure. What they don't realize is I want to date the same kind of woman." These words stick with me as a reminder that if I want to date someone who has good health and fitness as a priority, then I need to live that in my own life. You can't change other people. It's a full time job just changing ourselves. Staying fit and healthy is a daily challenge I'm working on.
A small change can have a big impact. When I started dating my guy, he regularly used the "f" word in every third paragraph. It was so much a part of his everyday conversation he didn't even realize it. When I brought it to his attention, he stopped immediately. That little personal self-improvement allowed our relationship to grow to the next wonderful level. Take one thing in your life you feel could improve the quality of your relationships and work on it.
Your First Date: Think Ahead About What To Say (and What Not To)
A date after divorce needs interesting conversation, and an interest in one another as in any date. Having been through a divorce doesn't obligate you to talk about it. You only need to disclose whatever is interesting and needed. Also, don't bad mouth your ex or any other relationships you've had. Keep the conversation focused on each other, contemporary topics, and what's important to the two of you. Even better — make the date itself at a fun location or activity so you're not tempted to focus on the past. Live in the moment. And smile, you sexy, vibrant, beautiful woman — you are going to love again and it will be magnificent!
Donna Beasley is publisher of Romance Travel Magazine, your resource for romantic ideas and getaways around the globe.
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