Dating is stressful, under any circumstances!
When we’re searching out new people for a relationship, casual or serious, there are always so many questions swirling about:
Who are they-really?
Where should we go?
What should we do?
What should we talk about?
What should I wear?
What if I sound dumb?
What if we don’t click or I feel unsafe?
Dating can be an even more intimidating possibility when it’s the first after divorce!
Coming out of a marriage (or lengthy relationship), we’re used to the habits, personality, and quirks of that one person, and they have tolerated ours, well enough, for a long period. Even if, by the end of the marriage, we no longer got along with our ex, they were still familiar, and even “safe.” We had already shared our back story, secrets, and let down our guard around them. The need for small talk was all but unnecessary, and we were able to just be ourselves.
Now, the clock has been reset, and we have to start from square one, back on the “meet someone nice to go on a first date with” spot on the game board!
So many divorced or divorcing people are terrified by the prospect of dating again! Many have asked me “how do I even begin?”
Dating may be a very different ballgame from when you last played the game! The methods of meeting people and “getting out there” evolve over time, and if you haven’t been on the market for a while, there’s been no need for you to keep up with the single’s scene.
So, how does one prepare for the first date after divorce?
1. First of all, date when you’re ready, and not just because others say you should or you feel like it’s what you’re supposed to do!
2. Check out newer methods of dating and meeting people that may not have existed the last time you dated. Many of the tried and true methods are still effective (e.g. set-ups by friends); but, you may have better success promoting your availability within the same circles as your would-be dates.
3. If unsure of what to do, ask others who date! Where do your friends meet people? What services have they had success with? There’s no need to go into new territory blindly if you have others to offer you advice!
4. Don’t put pressure on yourself, or your dates! You will probably be more successful with your dating adventures if you let things flow at a natural pace instead of placing too high of expectations on a date to be “the one.” You may be afraid to be on your own, outside the security of a relationship; but, there’s no need to jump into something too serious too quickly!
5. Just be you! If you wish to find a partner who is the best fit for you, then you need to meet others in your most authentic form. That’s not to say you should arrive at your date in sweatpants, just feel free to be honest about who you are, what you like, and what you’re looking for so that both you and your date know what you’re getting.
6. Think of dating like a sort of job interview. You should come to the table with as much of an idea as possible about what you need in a partner and what qualities you want (or don’t want); otherwise, dating is a way to expose yourself to various personalities in order to learn about your likes and dislikes. If you don’t click” with someone, it’s okay! You can always go on another date and try again!
7. The dating scene is not always to be found in a bar! While true that many singles do congregate in pubs, it’s not the only way to exchange digits. Many newly-minted singles are apprehensive about finding quality dates in the bar scene. In truth, many singles in bars may only be seeking a good time for the night, rather than an actual relationship. Potential dates can be found wherever you live, work, and play! Get active in your community, volunteer, attend events, join clubs, and keep your eyes open wherever you go!
8. Be fair to yourself (and your dates) by being clear about what you want. If you’re newly divorced, it’s not really the best idea to immediately seek your next spouse. Follow-up marriages after divorce have higher rates of failure because of the high number of people who rush into their next romance before properly healing or learning from their marriage mistakes. If casual companionship is all you are interested in now, that’s fine! When you feel you’re really ready for a serious relationship, that’s fine too! Try to be honest, open, and on the same page with those you date, and save yourselves some headaches!
9. Take care of yourself! Always be the one and amazing you; but, you may feel more confident and prepared to meet new people if you can put your best foot forward! Have you been sporting the same hairstyle or out-of-date wardrobe for awhile? Why not freshen up your look with some new clothes that help you feel comfortable, stylish, and attractive. Consider freshening up your hair, make-up, and accessories. Your best look always includes a positive attitude, good eye contact, and a wining smile; so, don’t sell your natural attributes short!
One of the best ways to overcome dating anxiety is to just go out there and face your fears! You will become more confident and at ease with each date you go on. Don’t worry if you encounter more frogs than princes! Most of your dates are just as anxious as you, and not every combination of people is a good fit. Try to see the fun in meeting new people, experiencing life after divorce, and discovering more about yourself. Don’t think of dating, or even meeting a great new partner, as the end of your journey, but rather as an interesting part of your path!
Good luck on your first date!