I’m often asked: ‘When is a good time to start dating?’
One of the difficulties people face when they’re ready to start dating is where and how to start. Starting too soon or for the wrong reasons is not going to help re-build your self-confidence or help you become open to new intimate relationships.
Let’s not overlook the fact that you may be the one who wanted the divorce because you were already in a relationship with someone else.
I suggest you start by simply getting together with friends or work colleagues for fun, relaxation and enjoyment.
Be prudent – It pays to be wise and judicious when re-entering the dating game. Now that you’re newly single, try to establish balance in your life. You may be eager to date, but don’t forget to make time for yourself, your children, family and friends. Date if you feel ready. But don’t make it your life.
Cultivate relationships with other single people – If you don’t already have single friends, find some. Your single friends will be a great resource because they’re the same situation; unattached and needing company. It’s easier to go out in a group and to meet people that way. And it always helps to have company when dealing with a new life situation.
One date does not form a relationship – Not everyone you date will be interested in a second date and vice versa. It’s more challenging when you’re interested in a second date and your dating partner is not. But don’t let that deter you. You don’t want to waste your precious time in a cul de sac relationship. Neither should you let it get you thinking negatively about yourself. Move on to the next person and be willing to go through a process of elimination. Don’t take dating, or yourself, too seriously.
Don’t come on too strong – If you were in a long-term marriage, you’re used to being part of a couple. Being single again is a huge adjustment. But be wary of the ‘couple habit’. Don’t let your need to be part of a couple make you come on too strong. You’re dating, not stalking, so be careful not to overwhelm any potential new partner.
Don’t forget to respect yourself – Go slowly when it comes to sharing information about yourself with a date. Circumspection will convey a positive sense of self and create some mystery. So, keep the details to a minimum until you know they are worthy of hearing them. Do not pour out your divorce story. Divorce is an event in your life. It is not a permanent state of being. I still refuse to add ‘divorced’ on forms other than legal forms where it’s required
Experiment – Approach the dating game with an attitude of openness and experimentation. You will not find Mr. and Mrs. Right on every date you go on but, keep an open mind and you will at least learn something new. And you might have a lot of fun.
Try something new – Don’t box yourself in with the idea that you have a “type” that you are attracted to. Change those old thought processes, step outside your stereotypes and broaden your horizons. After a divorce, you may find you’re naturally attracted to a very different kind of person. And although first impressions count, just because you weren’t swept off your feet on the first date doesn’t mean this can’t happen later. This is life, not a movie.
Never underestimate the power of flirting – Nothing is more fun and better for self esteem than a little gentle flirtation. And nothing helps you connect to another person quicker than being playful. Be charming and delightful, show some vitality. Keep it light and festive, not deep and serious. But be wary of below-the-belt flirtation. The idea is to be light and breezy, not sleazy. Keep your mind in the moment and not on the long-term goal of falling in love.
Think of new places to meet people
Highly recommended: Take up a new hobby, something that will stretch you, such as scuba diving, golf, sky diving, flying, mountain trekking, motorcycling or camping. Think of outdoor activities that attract someone else (a sewing class is not really appropriate). The people you meet in these circumstances won’t mind seeing you in thick hiking socks with fly-away hair, so there’s far less pressure on you. Your interactions will also be centered on mutual activities, so it’s a very relaxed and healthy way to meet new people and make new friends.
Highly recommended: Personal development programs – To me, this is one of the best places to meet people. I met someone at an entrepreneurship course. I would never have thought that while I was focused on winning the game, I would actually meet an amazing man. It took me completely by surprise
Ask your friends to introduce you to their single friends
Online dating – I think online dating is great. I don’t recommend classified advertisements as I don’t believe you can thoroughly vet someone new through this process, unlike online dating. If you’re careful, cautious and sensible, you’ll be able to start conversations with a number of people you probably wouldn’t meet in bars or clubs. The best part about online dating is that you simply start out chatting online. You aren’t dealing with anyone face to face and so rejection is not an issue. He doesn’t know your address or phone number and you aren’t under any obligations. These days, there are many online dating services available. You can take your pick. But be cautious. There are some strange people out there. Make sure you’re the one in control and never give out your address or phone number. If and when you choose to meet some cyber friend in person (don’t rush into it; take your time to get to know them online first), make sure it is in a safe environment and away from your home or workplace. Here are some online dating tips:
Be creative with your online dating profile so you highlight those aspects of yourself that are interesting and individual. Create a little mystery so that people will be curious to meet you.
Be honest in your profile and be honest about what you are looking for, whether it’s a short-term or long-term relationship.
Choose a recent photograph that shows you at your best. Do not alter your picture. Real people will want to meet real people.
When arranging to meet someone for the first time, always ensure you tell a friend where you’re going and arrange to check in with them at least once during the evening to let them know you’re okay.
Speed Dating – This is great fun, a great laugh and a really fantastic way to get back into the swing of dating. But consider these tips first:
Ensure you go just for fun, with no expectations at all.
Go with your friends and make it a fun evening.
Dress well but don’t overdo it!
Before you go, list some questions to ask people.
Get up to speed with the latest news or think of some zippy conversation starters rather than the boring ‘So what do you do?’ line.
Know a bit about the venue.
Dating agencies – I don’t have any experience with dating agencies. My only information is that they spend time matching you with the ‘right’ person. This is good but the drawback is that the service is costly.
Singles holidays – Fantastic, particularly if you go with a good attitude: to have fun and meet new people. I would recommend choosing trips that are physically demanding as they will put you in a good frame of mind and give you something to focus on, rather than simply meeting a man. Think of a hobby that interests you, a pilgrimage, a new sport, a hike up Kilimanjaro perhaps. Revisit your ‘List of things to do before you die’ and choose a holiday you can take. I recommend that you go alone (yes, alone) to ensure you don’t hide behind a friend – and that you’re well out of your comfort zone. Think Shirley Valentine!