Dating after a divorce isn’t easy: In fact, re-entering the dating scene after a breakup can feel like going through a second round of puberty, given its sheer awkwardness. But the following hints and tips for newly divorced daters can help you get the hang of things soon enough. If you’re unsure about how to talk to a crush, and the rules have changed since you were last a free agent, then take heart. It needn’t be as complicated to find someone special as you think, and when you’re sidelined with doubt, consider these 10 tips for dating after a divorce that can help you get back to happy in no time.
Know When You’re Ready – Your well-meaning friends and family might think that pushing you toward creating an online profile and setting you up on dates is the way to help you heal, but you’re the only one who knows if you’re truly ready. That could be a lot sooner than expected, or could be years down the line, regardless of the time frame, it’s yours to determine. Don’t let anyone else’s judgements and expectations force your path.
Sign Up for Online Apps – If you’ve been off the market for years, or even decades, online dating might seem awkward. Good news: It’s kind of awkward for everyone … because everyone is doing it. Cyber-courtship is the new normal, and while it could take a few rounds of horrible matches and disappointing first dates, you’ll get the hang of things soon enough.
Know What You’re Looking For – One of the most important maxims on our list of the 10 tips for newly divorced daters is that you probably have a better understanding of who you are and what makes you happy. Make a comprehensive list of the things you really need from a relationship. Be flexible on the superficial stuff, but be firm about the values you can’t compromise.
Know What You Don’t Need – While you’re in list-making mode, know exactly what you can’t tolerate. Think back on your relationships, your emotional triggers, and situations that brought you the most conflict. Learn from your mistakes and use their lessons wisely going forward.
Don’t Talk About Your Ex – You’ve likely spent months giving the play by play to friends, family, and a handful of people that were too polite to tell you they were sick of hearing about your divorce. Resist the urge to mention your ex, whether it’s positive or negative: A new date is not the time to trot out tales of your former mate.
Keep the Kids at Home – Divorce often means that kids are now part of the package. When it comes to the elevator pitch of your life, let potential suitors know that you have emotional responsibilities and dependents, but don’t feel that you have to rush when it comes to face-to-face introductions. Your kid doesn’t necessarily need, or even want, to meet everyone you date. Keeping things casual means that when things fizzle out, you won’t have a tiny critic asking what went wrong and what happened to your new “friend.”
Have a Constructive Outlet – Dating is frustrating. Dating when you thought you’d found your forever mate and were done with the hunt can be psychologically brutal. We all have weak moments and need to vent/cry/primal scream the pain away. Have an outlet, whether it’s a therapist, a support group, or a hobby you can really pour that energy into.
Get Rid of Expectations – Dating is difficult. There are no guarantees that you’ll find the perfect match. Personalities vary, timing can be off, and you may not be as emotionally prepared to open up your life as you initially thought. Ease up on your expectations of romantic “success” and let yourself enjoy the journey.
Understand Who You Are – You can custom-set your age and geographic preferences on most dating apps and websites, but be realistic. That twentysomething urban farmer might be a gorgeous dream come true, but if your fantasy doesn’t match up with your personality and who you really are, you’ll just end up fake laughing your way through a conversation about grey water collection methods and primitive living conventions when all you really want to do is grab a Slurpee and sneak a cigarette. Be true to yourself.
Have Fun – You’ve just gotten out of a relationship that likely involved months of emotional meltdowns and a bout of the blues. You’ve made it out of a dark place and should make the most of your time now. Have fun, explore the possibilities, savor every awkward and hilarious encounter. You’re not on deadline to find your next spouse, so take your time to learn who you are in this new incarnation.
Dating after a long-term relationship is a whole new ballgame, so read up for more on tips for newly divorced daters at these sites:
Regina Bresler is a native Brooklynite who spends her days running feral through the internet, and her nights talking to strangers. She's covered entertainment + culture for Cosmopolitan, Death & Taxes, Heeb, and Flavorpill. Sneak a peek into her inner monologue via Instagram/Tumblr/Twitter: CloudsAndCandy