Getting Back Out There: Dating After Divorce
We know that dating after divorce can be overwhelming – so we created a series called Dating After Divorce with the help of relationship expert and author Cassie Zampa-Keim to help you get back out there, no matter how long it’s been. Cassie shares her wisdom with us for this article and for our 4-part podcast series. The episodes cover modern dating strategies, an overview of online dating, how to create a stellar online profile, and going from profile to first date – so be sure to check those out as well on our Podcast page.
Tip #1: Embrace a Fresh Perspective
When it comes to dating after divorce, creating the right mindset is critical. Think self-fulfilling prophecy: if you think dating will suck, it will. If you look at it as an interesting adventure and a way to meet new, potentially special people, it will be. The more you go into it with an open mind, a sense of who you are and what you’re looking for, and a little patience, the more likely you are to attract people you like – and enjoy the process.
It also helps to be on your own side. When you catch yourself playing self-critical messages over and over in your head, stop the recording and write a new script that’s more helpful and supportive. This builds your confidence and helps you maintain your energy. Focus on what’s good about you and on what could be fun about dating.
Tip #2: Identify Who You Are and What You Want in a Partner
Before you jump into the dating pool, it helps to step back and understand who you are today and what you’re looking for in a partner, because dating after divorce may be very different than what it was the last time you were on the dating scene. Cassie Zampa-Keim asks women to explore the answers to these questions:
- Would I date myself? If so, why? If no, why not? Identify your best qualities so you can let those shine, and see what you need to change and begin to address those things.
- What are my best qualities? Get help from friends and family if you need it. Write these down. Really absorb this and refer to it frequently to keep you feeling good about yourself.
- What kind of relationship am I looking for right now? Consider your lifestyle factors, like how much you travel or have your kids. Also know whether you’re looking for a movie buddy, a spouse, or a hook-up. Even though it may change over time, it helps to be clear in what you want before you start.
- What has and hasn’t worked in my past relationships? Think of your most significant 1-3 past relationships and make a list of their positives and negatives to help you identify patterns and clarify what you want and don’t want.
- What did my partners say to me about our relationship, and what can I learn from that? While you don’t have to agree with everything an ex says, reflecting on what they had to say with an open mind can often lead to valuable insights.
Tip #3: Tame Your Fears
It’s totally normal to feel fear when you start to think about dating again, whether it’s fear of feeling rejected, being disappointed, feeling like a failure, and even fear of it working out! The best way to get better at taking risks and opening up to life’s possibilities that life is to practice. As you take small risks, allow yourself the feel the feelings that come along with them, keep breathing, and take another one. You’ll find that the risks don’t seem so scary, the payoffs are better than you imagined, and you are capable of dealing with it when things don’t turn out as you planned.
Tip #4: Embrace the process, not the outcome
When you start dating after divorce again, you’re acknowledging that you’d like to meet someone special. Unless you have a magic wand and can make Mr. Right appear on your doorstep, it’s going to take some time. If you don’t enjoy the process, you’re much less likely to find that someone special.
Open yourself up to what dating can offer. Get excited about meeting new people and expanding your social circle. Look forward to learning more about yourself and about the world. Let go of the pressure to find ‘the one’ and be present for what’s happening in the moment. When negativity creeps in, notice what it’s about and shift your thinking.
Tip #5: Take Action, in Small Steps
Start by taking care of yourself, including the basics, like diet, exercise, and sleep. Nurture your important relationships, and do the things you enjoy doing. This provides a stable base to help you feel good and stay optimistic. Maintain positivity by regularly revisiting your list of good qualities and focusing on what you do have, rather than on what you don’t have, so it becomes a habit. Get a sense of where your comfort level is, and take small risks, rather than jumping too quickly or forcing yourself into things.
DO something. Go out and do some of the activities you enjoy to keep motivated and active. This is also a great way to make new friends, increase your self-confidence, and maybe meet either a potential partner or the person who could introduce you to one. Explore online dating sites to get familiar with their format and structure. Take it one step at a time.
It’s time to date again – and we’re with you all the way
If you implement these five tips for dating after divorce, you’ll be ready to hit the scene!
Check out our Dating After Divorce podcasts for more (in order):
- Modern Dating Strategies for Divorced Women
- Online Dating: What It Is and How to Get Good at It
- Online Dating: Creating a Stellar Profile
- Online Dating: From Profile to First Date