10 Need-to-Know Tips for Dating Post-Divorce
You’re older now, and unfortunately, there’s a smaller pool of eligible people to choose from. These are just some of a million frustrations that come with post-divorce dating.
You may not completely understand what your goals for dating are, and you may just want to ‘get back in the saddle’.
Luckily, dating after divorce isn’t always difficult.
If you follow these tips, you’ll get your dating groove back (And maybe you’ll be an even better date this time around!).
1. First, you need to be sure you’re over your ex
Keep the details about the Divorce to yourself, at least for the first handful of dates.
Then, after you know your date better, share a bit about your ex and your Divorce.
But, don’t over share. There are certain details your dates should know and details they don’t need to know.
You may feel some anger or resentment about the divorce, even if you’re over your ex. Of course, this is totally normal. But, your date shouldn’t know about it right away.
Don’t go into the drama of the custody battle or the court orders with your date for the first few dates. And, don’t talk badly about your ex because it makes you look petty. Save that talk for your therapist or a friend.
Also, if you’re not over your ex, don’t date. You’re just going to bring in a whole slew of baggage and probably have a less successful new relationship overall.
2. Lower your expectations
A lot of dating experts recommend you make a list of your preferred traits in a partner.
But, making a list can cause you to have too high of expectations.
Nobody is going to check every single one of your boxes. There has to be give and take.
Instead, think of your top five important, non-negotiable traits that you need to have in a partner.
Then, see if these traits are present in the people you go on dates with.
Focus on your individual connection rather than external factors like looks or career.
It’s also important to consider what you don’t want in a partner.
Think about what didn’t work in your marriage, and you’ll have more of an idea of what you’re looking for in your next partner.
3. Keep it casual at first
In the past, it was very common to go out for dinner and a movie for a first date.
Dating norms have changed a bit though.
Sometimes, a first date doesn’t go so well, and spending an entire evening with a date can be excruciating if there’s no genuine connection.
Now, it is perfectly acceptable to ask someone out for coffee or a drink for a first date to see if you feel a natural connection first.
You and your date can get to know each other in a casual, low-pressure setting like a coffee shop or a quieter bar.
Keep the date short, one to two hours at most.
This way, if the date doesn’t go well, you won’t have to spend the whole evening with someone you’re not interested in.
If you find that the relationship is worth pursuing, take them on a more formal date to dinner and a movie.
If you’ve recently gone through a divorce, it’s important to keep the relationship casual at first and see if it develops into something more.
You don’t want to jump into a rebound marriage, after all.
4. Give it a few dates
Many people dump their dates pretty quickly if the first date isn’t great, but this is a big mistake.
If the date isn’t going that smoothly, your date may just be nervous. They also may be tired or off their ‘A-Game’.
Having a less-than-perfect first date is not worth throwing away an entire potential relationship.
If the first date goes reasonably well, go out with them at least one more time to see if you feel any connection.
Sometimes a mediocre first date turns into an awesome second date because some of the pressure is off.
5. Consider your Children
Dating with kids is a challenge, but a solvable one. It can be confusing for your kids to see their mom or dad dating someone else.
They may feel frustrated with the realization that their parents aren’t getting back together.
Many kids can feel loyalty conflicts between their biological parents and potential long-term partners.
Kids also can feel as if they’re losing your attention to someone else, and they may react by causing trouble to get your attention.
These are all concerns you need to keep in mind if you’re a single parent dating after your divorce.
Wait until the relationship is more serious to introduce your dates to your children.
Avoid introducing dates you aren’t serious about to your kids.
Any person you introduce to your children, in their mind, could be a potential step-parent.
Your kids are likely still processing the divorce—there’s no need to overwhelm them by introducing them to a bunch of new partners.
When you feel ready, initiate an open discussion about dating with your children.
Allow them to express some of their concerns to you. Assure them that you’ll still spend time with them and make them a priority.
When the relationship has progressed further, ask your children if they would be open to meeting your new partner.
There will certainly be an adjustment period, so don’t expect your children to automatically get along with your new partner.
There may even be hostility from your children towards your new partner.
If this is the case, tell your children that while their behavior isn’t appropriate, it’s understandable.
6. Don’t Ghost Them
‘Ghosting’ someone is when you stop replying to their messages and phone calls and you never speak with them again.
This is a terrible choice to make for many reasons, the main one being that you look like a jerk when you ghost someone.
Yes, the uncomfortable break-up conversation is hard, and after going through a Divorce, ghosting someone may seem a billion times easier than being honest with them.
But everyone deserves the dignity of at least a text-message breakup.
If you have only been on a couple dates with someone, a text or phone call break-up is perfectly acceptable.
But, when in doubt, always break up in person. Just think how you would feel if someone you were dating had the nerve to ghost you.
It really hurts, and it’s mean to put someone else in that position.
7. Don’t text non-stop
Texting is very common between two people that are dating, and while it’s a great form of communication, it can have some issues.
Messages and feelings don’t always transfer well over text, even with emojis.
If you put in the wrong punctuation mark, an entire message can read much differently than you intended.
For example, ‘Let’s Eat Grandma!’ and “Let’s Eat, Grandma!” have two very different meanings, but just one difference in punctuation.
Try to get to know your date in a more natural setting, in person.
Talking and looking into each other’s eyes is much more romantic and special than texting all the time.
If you need to use technology to communicate, opt for the phone or FaceTime.
8. Be Honest About your Goals
Thinking about what you want in a relationship includes your goals for the relationship.
Ask yourself what your long-term purpose of dating is.
Do you want to be married again? Would you rather be in a semi-committed relationship that doesn’t end in marriage? Do you just want to date casually?
Whatever your reasoning is, think about it and be honest with yourself. And, make your intentions clear to your dates.
This way, you can find someone who is looking for the same level of commitment as you are.
9. Keep some Distance
When you start dating someone new, everything is exciting. You’re in what experts call, ‘The Honeymoon Phase’.
It’s the part of the relationship where you can’t stop smiling and you’re infatuated with your partner. This phase can last from six months to a year.
It’s almost always a bad idea to move in with someone after this amount of time because you don’t really know who the other person is yet.
The only things you know about them are the idealized images your brain is firing off.
In the Honeymoon Phase, it’s hard to see your partner’s flaws when you’re together because your brain is flooded with feel-good hormones.
It’s fun to get swept up in the moment, and if you’ve been divorced for a while, you’re probably really excited to be dating someone new that you actually like.
But, be sure to keep a little distance from your new partner so your rational brain can spot red flags.
Try not to spend every waking moment together so you can address your needs. You don’t want to rush into another marriage and have it not work out again.
10. Don’t be afraid to get online
Online Dating is very normal these days, and not just among the Millennial Generation.
Divorcees often get online to meet other single parents or divorcees.
Many people think it’s ‘sad’ or ‘pathetic’ to online date, but it’s actually a great way to meet people in your area.
Don’t be afraid to try these websites out, and often if you pay for the premium membership you’ll get better match results.
If online dating isn’t your cup of tea, try meetup.com, a website that connects people interested in similar activities.
If you try out some meetup groups, you may meet some other singles who are interested in the same things you are.
Dating after Divorce may not be easy, but understanding what has changed since you were dating your ex can provide a lot of insight into finding someone who works better for you. After a divorce, you may feel like you’ll never meet someone else. But finding a healthy, stable relationship is possible—you just have to work at it. Good luck on your dating adventures!