When the last asset has been divided, the alimony or child support settled, and the emotional scars of the divorce finally begin to fade you may start to feel things you haven’t felt in quite some time. The hairs on the back of your neck may begin to dance when you smell the sensual cologne of the beautiful woman in front of you at Starbucks. Or maybe you find yourself gazing longingly at the very fit and tan construction worker on the side of the road as you are stuck in rush hour traffic. Before you know it, the old familiar feelings of lust and desire have been resurrected and it’s time to start dating again.
Dating after a divorce can be a scary thing. Depending on the circumstances that led to your divorce, you may re-enter the dating world with tattered self-confidence, fear or even guilt. You may look at every prospect as the same wolf that your ex-spouse was, just in new sheep’s clothing. If you were married for a long time, you probably feel quite a bit older than all of the competition and unfamiliar with the latest dating techniques such as speed dating, internet matchmaking and social networking. You are not alone. Millions of people have re-entered the sea of romantic possibility and navigated the waters quite successfully. Here are five tips to help you get sailing:
Fix Yourself First
Finding yourself single after a long relationship provides a great opportunity for self-discovery. Now that you are no longer half of a couple, take this time to learn more about yourself. Explore areas of your personality that you’ve longed to get to know better, and let yourself experiment with new activities and hobbies. Find ways to repair the damage the divorce may have caused before you begin looking for someone else to fill in your voids. The last thing you want is to enter a relationship expecting your partner to fill in your gaps and heal you. The ideal partner will complement you, not complete you.
Take it Slow
When you begin dating after a divorce, you should consider entering the dating waters one toe at a time. Gauge your comfort level before you jump off the high dive. If you are more at ease in a group setting, consider going out with the girls to mingle with some eligible bachelors. If you feel confident one on one, set up a dating profile and start wining and dining some nice ladies once a week. No matter how you approach the dating world, do it at a speed that is comfortable for you.
When you were married, you probably wanted to change a million things about your spouse. Dating after a divorce gives you the chance to find the mate of your dreams. If you ex was bald, maybe you’ve longed for someone with a full head of hair. If your former spouse was a materialistic person, perhaps you truly desire someone with deeper and more meaningful values. No matter what qualities you seek, do not settle for less. Dating will give you the opportunity to try on all of those traits that you’ve always wanted in a partner and see how they fit. Set your expectations high enough to satisfy you, but within the realm of realistic.
If it’s Not Fun, They’re Not the One
The whole goal of dating should be to find enjoyment in the company of someone else. When you begin dating after a divorce, focus on having a good time, not finding a new spouse. Give yourself a gut check every now and then to see if you are still having fun. If you are feeling pressured or unsure of the dating circumstances, change them. If you are not enjoying the time you spend with one particular person, stop seeing them. The beauty of dating is that you have the freedom to change course until your find the right one.
A watched pot never boils. I can’t tell you how many times my friends have told me that no matter how many dates they went on, they couldn’t find that special someone. And as soon as they stopped looking, guess who popped into their lives? The same thing happened with me. I was newly divorced and had no intention of dating for some time. And that’s exactly when I met my current husband. When we are not pressured to impress and are being completely ourselves, we just may end up meeting that person who is attracted to all of those qualities that we try to cover up when we are on a date. So let your hair down, let your guard down, and take a look around. You may be surprised who is looking at you when you stop looking.