When the dust settles after a divorce, you will find yourself single and possibly missing the companionship that a partner offers. But we all know that developing a new relationship means you’ll have to start dating. (Dun dun dun!) If you try jumping back in with both feet, you may find that dating has changed a lot since your last go-round. You’ll probably need to tune up those old dating skills. And dating after divorce can be scary, I know!
As many of you might know, I was single for over a decade and have a lot of experience with this topic. It was not always an easy journey (actually quite comical, interesting, and frustrating at times), but well worth the investment of time and energy—yes, it does take effort! The key is to have fun, be safe, be savvy, and keep the faith that your person is out there somewhere. These tips can help you find that person as you get back in the dating game, or simply get you started if you are just getting out there again.
Tips for Dating After Divorce
Online Dating Tips
At this point, everyone knows about online dating. Both my husband and I tried it before meeting each other through a mutual friend. And although I didn’t ultimately meet my soulmate online, online dating after divorce helped me to reach out to many people I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to meet. The best thing about online dating is, you are making an effort and putting yourself out there. Let’s face it, if you never leave the house, you are not going to meet anyone!
- Post a candid profile picture. Experts say, a lot of people aren’t using online dating to their best benefit, and that begins with the profile picture—the first thing people will notice about you. For instance, experts say that men see a huge red flag when a woman posts only professional head shots. She may look amazing, but professional head shots suggest this is the best she could possibly look, and that she might be much less attractive in reality. (Don’t get me wrong, your pictures are super important, but major airbrushing, filters, or glamour shots are also a big no-no.) Posed professional photos also convey that she doesn’t have friends, doesn’t do anything, and isn’t active. Where are the candids? This woman may have just returned from a monthlong African safari, but her photos don’t show that, and online dating is all about that first impression.
- Share your true personality. Many people temper their true selves in the beginning, especially if they are anxious or uncertain about dating after divorce, but there is a difference between toning it down and outright misrepresenting yourself! Not everyone has to be a world traveler with a palate for exotic cuisine and a penchant for all things athletic. Share who you actually are versus what you think others want to hear. You’ll be more comfortable in your own skin instead of fitting into a facade. Plus the less you disguise yourself, the more easily you’ll find someone who enjoys you for you!
- Don’t overshare your opinions before meeting. What is one positive way people temper their true selves? They don’t spout off their opinions on politics or other polarizing topics straight out of the gate. Differences of opinion may lead you to immediately discount someone, where you might otherwise have enjoyed their company enough to build the foundation of mutual respect and interest that make differences more palatable. You wouldn’t shoo off one of your close friends over a difference of opinion, right?
- Watch those response times. It’s hard to wait when you’re excited about someone! But it’s important to remember that person has a life too, and to give them adequate space to manage their work, kids, nature hikes, and so on. That means allowing them 3—4 hours to respond to one of your online messages or texts. According to online-dating data, sending a second message before getting an answer to your first can decrease your chances of getting a response from someone by 34 percent. Nobody likes to be pestered, plus you risk looking desperate, impatient, or crazy. Also realize when it’s time to stop messaging someone who hasn’t responded. After 24 hours, it’s assumed a reply is unlikely due to lack of interest or inactivity on the dating site.
- Limit to three back-and-forth exchanges. So many people break this rule and are sorry for it later. Three back-and-forths (six total emails) is the sweet spot before exchanging numbers or setting up a date. And when you do get that phone number, use it to make an actual phone call to enjoy their voice and laughter! The longer you stay online or texting, the less likely you’ll be to take the jump in person.
- Don’t spam their social media accounts. Just because you’ve exchanged a few emails and know their full name doesn’t mean you get to connect on Facebook, Insta, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and so on. Take social media connections slowly, taking time to learn about each other in person first. Yes it’s tempting to scroll through all their posts to learn everything you can, but you also don’t want to come across as needy, smothering, or stalkery.
- Some words about safety. The internet is a wealth of permanent information, so be careful what you share; you don’t know who is on the other end of that dating profile. So, don’t ever share information that could be used to hack into your private accounts (name of first pet, street you grew up on, and so on). Also, keep your home address and full name private until you’ve established a rapport. Be smart when someone asks you for money or personal information, or when things seem too good to be true. Also take note when someone can’t meet in person, even if they seem amazing in email or text. They may be grooming you for a scam. Use common sense and trust your instincts.
Tips for Going on a Date
Congratulations! You’ve made the jump from emailing and texting to an in-person meeting. Now what?
- Meet in a public place. For your first few dates, meet in a fun public place like a bar, coffee shop, or restaurant (remember about not sharing your home address just yet?). After you get to know each other, there will be plenty of time for homecooked meals, game nights, or movies at home.
- Keep quiet about your divorce details. It is never fun to listen to someone going on about emotionally unresolved problems from a past relationship. This is a date, not a therapy or gossip session! When the subject of your divorce comes up, as it inevitably will when you’re dating after divorce, you can be open and honest without letting it all spill out. Literally, no more than 5 minutes should be spent on this topic. If your date picks up on bitterness or even worse, that you are not over your spouse, you will not get a second date!
- Be yourself. And be the person you were online and on the phone! Consistency is key. Be yourself and encourage your date to do the same. Smiling and enjoying the moment is contagious, and before you know it, you will both be at ease. And remember, the truth always comes out, so acting like you love to camp when your idea of camping is a delay in room service is not a good idea!
- Show interest. Pay attention to your date. Nothing is more flattering than being worth someone’s time, so ask questions and listen with genuine interest. The more questions you ask, the more knowledge you will gain, which will help you decide the likelihood of a second date. Hopefully, your date will respond with equally great questions about you. If they do not (as nerves sometimes impact this ability), try asking, “Is there something you would like to ask or know about me?” If this does not prompt questions and they keep talking about themselves, this is likely not the person for you.
- Save your time. Speaking up can be tough if you’re not feeling a connection, but it can be better than faking your way through a bad date. If you have zero interest in or actually dislike your date, there is a way out. Try a polite, “I’m looking for a spark that I’m not feeling here, and I don’t want to waste any more of our time figuring it out. Thanks for meeting me. I’m going to call it a night.”
- Choose how to end your date. Should you kiss at the end of the date, hug, or shake hands? It’s totally up to you. Do what feels right for you and your date—don’t sucuumb to any kind of pressure. If all you want is to call an Uber to head for home, then you are free to make that choice. However your date ends, remember to be courteous. And after that date, if you would like to see this person again, keep in contact! The new dating environment moves quickly, so forget the old two-day rule and playing hard to get—your date will consider you gone or ghosted by then. Feel free to text after a great date to say thanks or to share that you had a great time. And if you no longer wish to see someone, try to be honest about your mismatch, and then feel free to block someone who isn’t getting the message or is being inappropriate.
- One date does not a relationship make. Don’t change your Facebook relationship status after one date, even if it was a great date. And remember that just because you are interested in a second date doesn’t mean the other person will be. If you don’t get called to go out again, don’t let it get you down. Rejection hurts, but it puts you one step closer to finding the person that is right for you. Be willing to go through the process of elimination, and have fun doing it.
In Conclusion: Tips for Dating After Divorce
Successful dating after divorce means having fun, letting go of the past, and giving yourself permission to be happy. Online dating is a great way to have fun and meet new people you might not otherwise have connected with, just be sure to date smartly and safely, with common sense. So go out and enjoy yourself!