Let’s start with some honesty. So, how to date after divorce – it is challenging to get back to dating after the break-up of a long term relationship. Feelings of loss, the need to change established habits, the sense of being the odd one out in a group of couples, doubt about our attractiveness or if we’ll achieve the relationship of our dreams … all these can be obstacles to our belief that we’re going to find what we want. So if you’re ready to start dating again – congratulations! If you’re not – that’s okay too, it takes a while to work through the stages of a break-up.
But once you’re ready to try again, here are our top tips to help you date well after divorce or splitting up:
1. Separate chemistry and connection when dating
Biology is a tricky creature, and its favourite trick is to make us lustful, so we’ll procreate! But biology doesn’t care about what happens when procreation is over, so if you’re looking for a genuine relationship, it’s wise to be aware of the twin tracks of chemistry (lust) and connection (relationship building). Feeling a spark is amazing, but not feeling a spark doesn’t mean very much. Following a long-term relationship, it can take quite a few meetings for us to get over our sense of ‘difference’ and discomfort and to adjust to allowing a new person into our lives. Sometimes the spark needs time to emerge and that means seeing people a few times to find out if the connection will create the chemistry, rather than the other way round.
2. Build a dating safety net
Dating after a break up is never easy. Having a group of supporters and cheerleaders to help you maintain your motivation (and your standards) can be important. And of course, if we’ve been with somebody long term, it can feel as if all our friends are couples and don’t understand our position. But there will be some people: parents, kids, old school-friends, maybe a work colleague who’s newly or still single, who can rally round and help you work through the first days of your search for a new partner. Look for people who make you laugh and build you up and ask them to be your safety net as you venture out on the high wire of dating again.
3. Get cartographical
It might sound a bit like therapy, but sometimes literally making a map of your past relationships can be invaluable in finding a new relationship that works and lasts. Grab a piece of paper and draw a line showing the path of your last relationship. Where was it easy-going? Where did it fall off a cliff? Where there points where you felt lost, or as if you were wandering in circles? Mark them down and learn from them. It shows you where things went wrong before, and help you identify what you really want in your next relationship.
Flirt whenever possible
It’s a muscle that tends to atrophy in a long-term relationship, but flirting is good for us, good for others (assuming we do it sensitively) and gives us a route into first dates. Practising your flirting in safe surroundings, before you head into dating, can give you confidence that you can handle those early exchanges.
Ask your friends what your strong points are: an infectious laugh, the ability to tell a good joke, witty repartee, a great listener, even a lovely singing voice can be used to help build the flirt muscles. And ask them to be honest about what you’re not so good at too: if you’re not naturally funny, don’t try to be a stand-up comedian, you’ll have other attributes you can use to get your flirt capacity back into action.
Set aside everything you think you know about yourself, and your dates
We have a set of ideas about ourselves: what food we like, what sports we love (or detest), what we’re good or bad at … these preconceptions help us navigate the world effectively. But when it comes to dating, they can also trip us up. We think we know what we want in a partner, and that causes us to rule out people who don’t fit the bill. But when we’re heading back into dating, we’ll have more success if we can put away our preconceptions and look at each person as a potential – what do they have that we like? We may be surprised to discover that things we’ve never explored are actually important to us, while other attributes we thought essential aren’t that vital when everything else is right.
Be child centred – or not
If you have children, big them up from the beginning. They are always going to be part of your life and there’s no point getting close to somebody from whom you’ve hidden such a large feature of your existence. If they aren’t ready to take on you and your family, they were never going to be right for you. If, on the other hand, you don’t have children and don’t want them, be clear about that too. In both cases, there are people out there who think and feel as you do, so why not start your dating journey with them, rather than with somebody you’ve misled about your reality?
If there is one thing that we say, over and over again, at Select Personal Introductions, it’s ‘be patient’. Use your support net if nothing seems to be happening for you, check your map to see if you’ve started to drift away from your relationship course and remember … connection can lead to chemistry.