Ready to Date after Divorce?
If you’re considering dating after divorce or have been dating without success, this article is for you. Admittedly, I have some pretty strong feelings about when NOT to start dating but I will address that topic another time. For now, I’ll focus on the WHO, not WHEN.
Too Many Fish in the SeaOnline dating can feel very overwhelming especially when you first join a dating website. The sheer number of profiles to comb through can make you feel dizzy. I’ve seen plenty of women when they first start dating not be overly discriminate about who they choose to go out with. Unless you aren’t sure who might be right for you or if you didn’t date much prior to marriage, I don’t recommend dating people just to date. You’ve probably had people tell you that dating is a numbers game or that you need to kiss a certain amount of frogs to get your prince or princess. While many women find that they must go out with many people before finding someone compatible, you should be discriminating about who gets your time in the first place. I suggest you only go out with people you’re excited about meeting and who meet a strict set of criteria. No exceptions. Of course, who you are looking for is also dependent on what kind of relationship you’d like to have. If you’re thinking casual, it might be fun to go out with someone who wouldn’t normally be “your type”. That being said, you shouldn’t go out with anyone who should be no one’s type – anyone who makes you uncomfortable, is overly aggressive or rude, etc. I strongly urge you to use your intuition on this one. Reading Gavin De Becker’s book, “The Gift of Fear” gave me even more clarity on that point and I highly recommend it.
Same Fish, Different Scales
Are you finding that you keep choosing the same person (in a different form) over and over? You probably have a “type” whether that’s a physical type, emotional type, personality type, etc. Or maybe you just keep choosing people that are wrong for you? If this is the case, I highly recommend you form a dating team that includes at least two trusted friends or family members that know you well. Stan Tatkins, one my favorite authors who wrote “Wired for Dating: How Understanding Neurobiology and Attachment Style Can Help You Find Your Ideal Mate” talks about the importance of having others “vet” dates for you. Who we are attracted to is often set when we first come of age and getting out of that rut might just take having someone else suggest other possibilities for you.
Don’t Settle for a Catfish
If dating fatigue has set in, or if coming off your divorce has crushed your confidence, I highly suggest taking time out to discover what makes you a catch before you resume dating. Knowing who you are is the most important step to knowing who you want to attract. If you don’t feel good about what you have to offer, I guarantee you are at risk of attracting and settling for someone who isn’t right for you.
Ready to Land the Big Catch?
If you are ready to narrow the playing field, I suggest you put in the same kind of time and consideration for who you are looking for that you would when searching for a job. Actually, I take that back. You should actually put in much MORE time.
While I understand that spending hours writing down and figuring out who you should be dating might seem horribly unromantic, I guarantee you’ll be grateful you did. No one illustrates this better than Amy Webb in her TED talk, “How I hacked online dating“. Her hilarious account of how she met her husband illustrates the point of how she drilled down on who she wanted in order to find the right match for her. It is her system that has inspired my own.
Exercise to determine who you are looking for:
- Write down all the important qualities and attributes you want in a partner. This can be a complete brainstorm to begin with, you will sort and narrow the list down later. Think about what you liked about past partners and what was intolerable. Consider your values and your lifestyle. Consider your family situation – do you have kids? How close do they need to live?
- Examine your list and find the top 10 most important things on your list. These are your must-haves. Combine if you find that things are similar. For example, Character – honest, trustworthy & kind, can be one list item. Dedication to fitness and healthy lifestyle, could be another. Now take the next 10 and put them under your Tier Two category. These are things that you’d really like but aren’t deal breakers.
- Make sure you have your list handy when you are swiping left or right. Some of the things on your list are going to be hard to determine unless you meet or start chatting with someone. There should be things on your list that you can help you narrow the search down before you even meet, however. Dating apps are pretty good about sharing information about your potential dates from education, age, height, activities, location, job, etc. If someone meets your criteria and you do start chatting or decide to meet, then you can start figuring out if they meet your top ten criteria.
- Share your list with your dating team. See if you might be missing something important or if your list seems too superficial. Ask them to hold you gently accountable if you start dating people who don’t match what you want.
- Don’t cheat. You may be tempted to make excuses for someone or talk yourself out of your top ten criteria if you like most other things about a person or if it feels you aren’t meeting anyone who meets all ten. A major reason people are dissatisfied in their relationships is because they talked themselves into something they knew from the get-go they couldn’t handle or they convinced themselves would change. Don’t short-change yourself and settle. You are worthy of the match you desire.
Exercise to determine your deal breakers:
It is as important to determine who you do not want to date as it is who you want to date. This exercise will help with that.
- Write down all the qualities or attributes that you will not tolerate in a mate. Some of these things will coincide with your list from above but these can bring more clarity to the specifics. For example, one list item may be No active addictions. If addiction exists, length of sobriety, therapy or meetings must be attended, etc. – specified in detail.
- Break out the items in a list that are absolute deal-breakers at the top. There is no limit on this one – honor what you have put down.
- Take the rest of the items and put them in a second tier. Your first tier can be a more or less strict version of the same thing from your top tier. For example, First-tier – doesn’t like physical touch. Second-tier – not as touchy as I am but will tolerate physical expressions of affection.
- Don’t cheat. Seriously! Nothing like the good old shame fest you’ll have for breaking these.
Working with Me
Dating after divorce can be quite challenging and sometimes finding the right person takes a little extra support. I’d love to be on your dating team. If you found these exercises helpful and need some more specific guidance, I’ve got specific worksheets with lists of categories and attributes for us to use during your coaching sessions. Contact me today!