When and How to Start Dating After Divorce

Is there an appropriate period to wait before you start dating after divorce? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer: it’s pretty much up to you. Dating after divorce can be very intimidating, especially if you’re not looking “just to have fun,” but to build a meaningful and lasting relationship this time around. You may be middle-aged and suddenly find yourself feeling like an awkward teenager again. What do I wear? Who is going to pay? If it’s been a long time since you’ve been single, going out again can require lots of self-confidence. Whether it’s been one month, a year, or five years, you might feel a little iffy about dating after divorce. It’s usually easier to know if you’re not ready: when just thinking about it turns you off. When you decide to give dating a shot, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Dating After Divorce — Do’s and Don’ts

Do try online dating

Was the last time you were dating before the internet? For many older men and women (as well as some younger ones) online dating can seem strange or intimidating. Try thinking of it as a confidence booster. Setting up a profile only takes a few minutes, then you’ll be connected with other people who share your interests and values. Many people have met wonderful people this way and there’s no reason it won’t happen to you as well!

Don’t drag out meeting in person

One of the drawbacks of online dating is that you start to form an image in your mind of the person before you meet. This could potentially set you up for awkwardness or even disappointment if something about him isn’t quite what you imagined. Try to meet in person within two weeks of making online contact. Go out for coffee in a public place and find out if your virtual chemistry translates into the real world.

Do be a leader

When you have an active, fulfilling life outside of your relationship, you’re perceived as (and probably are) more interesting or “worth getting to know.” Even if you feel like “at your age” you should hurry up and find someone, you do want to show the world that you’re not desperate. Having other interests that you enjoy and sometimes prioritize spending time on shows you value yourself. Others will see this and value the time you decide to spend with them.

Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket

Even if you really “want to get it right this time,” dating should be thought of as a numbers game. Four out of five dates may not be the one, and that’s okay. With billions of people on the planet, there are bound to be some with whom you just don’t hit it off. But with that many people around, there’s also bound to be someone who makes you happy and makes you want to be the best person you can be. Not everyone is going to be that person, and it’s healthier to approach dating after divorce a little bit like practice rounds. It can take awhile to get back into the swing of things in the dating scene, especially if you had been married for a long time. Having practice dating will improve your self-confidence and social skills so that when you do meet someone special, you’ll be comfortable in your ability to connect.

Finally, do be positive

Everyone has horrible “ex stories,” but dragging them out during the first few dates can be really off-putting. Instead focus on the positive. It is appropriate to talk about what you learned from your previous relationship and how it made your grow as a person. Spend some time thinking about all the good things you’ve done in your life and know that you are able to build the future you want with a partner you truly connect with.

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