It’s been years since you’ve been out with anyone other than your ex, and it finally feels like time. Breathe. This is how to start dating after a divorce.
You probably wouldn’t believe you’d want to be dating after going through your divorce, but you catch yourself noticing some attractive prospects and hopefully catching an eye or two as they check you out, too.
Then you remember the last time you dated may have been before you met your high school or college sweetheart, and a mild panic might set in. To get a date back then, you sat nervously by your phone with a dial tone that seemed obnoxiously buzzy when you were finally ready to punch in the digits. So how does it work now? And where to start? Maybe even more important, when to start?
I was divorced in 2009, and starting to date again seemed ludicrous. I was abnormally busy, I had two young daughters, and I had more than a few pounds left to lose. Who would want to date me after my divorce? Wasn’t that the most open sign I had failed at life? In other words, it felt like I’d been turned upside down and shaken until all my confidence fell out like loose change.
Sheepishly, I decided to dip in to online dating. The first thing I noticed was I was hardly alone. This in itself was a confidence booster. When about half of married people get divorced, statistically speaking, we’re about as alone as attending a crowded and sweaty summer music festival. You can remain anonymous even while singing your loudest as long as you’re not too out of tune or groping people around you.
I was able to put together a couple of dates online, and I met some great women. Before too long, though, my lack of real confidence was clear. I was the overly perfect gentleman. I said nothing wrong or controversial—and nothing interesting either. I sat up straight, tucked in my shirts, and awkwardly tripped over myself to open all the doors. I was expressing with every fiber of my being I had no game. No game at all.
You may have to go through the same thing. It’s about as easy as it sounds, and it can get expensive learning the hard way. Tough it out, though, and be ready to try new things.
I made a friend after a date that ended with a “no chemistry” conclusion. Over the course of a couple months, I grilled her about how her dates went, and I learned some of the things she found attractive. I had never tried any of them, and I was sure I couldn’t pull it off. It all sounded too forward. She convinced me, though, confidence is the #1 factor. And that I might not ever have sex again otherwise. Point taken!
So I challenged myself to try something new on each date. I might go in for a kiss at the first chance that wasn’t creepy. I invited myself in for another drink one time. I called out some bad behavior or told someone I didn’t agree with something she said. I was amazed to find most everything I tried worked a lot better than being, well, boring and predictable.
I’d love to say all this happened in a matter of weeks. It was instead of matter of months, maybe years, but slowly and very surely, I felt I knew what I was doing again.
From that point on, I was able to be more discriminating. I looked more deeply for characteristics beyond what I could see in pictures. Did we match up on values? Did we have the same opinions, not just on politics, but on exercise and health and what Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons should be like?
To me, there are only two main ways to go wrong. The first is to give up. The second is to settle too early. It wasn’t like I was making any progress toward real relationships at the beginning, but I’ve seen far too many people who are heartbroken settle for anyone who mirrors their desperation. Allow yourself to take some time to get it right. And by all means, keep at it until you do. Game on!
If you’re a man in need of even more confidence, you can find out why women enjoy dating divorced men in this article. You’ll see I’m not just making this up. Once you’re ready, there are really good reasons others will find what you have to offer unique and valuable, and you’ll be on your way.
Craig is a dad and an entrepreneur from Denver. His site, Simplur.com, is a social network that helps non-profits connect with the people that love them.