So what’s it really like dating after a divorce? Read on to find out how one divorcee is navigating the dating scene now she is divorced.
Government health warning – I’m not an expert
Before I start this post I wanted to point out that I am certainly no expert on dating – as evidenced by the fact that I am still single three years after my separation. Also if there was some sort of sports commentary on my dating life they would undoubtedly be quoting stats and averages. Of late, I seem to be scoring a succession of two dates before I get the “it’s not you – it’s me” conversation. This is not a stat I am proud of but I thought it was safer to mention upfront that this is really a list of things not to do than any kind of how-to advice.
Why we should talk more about dating after divorce
I wanted to blog about this topic as it often gets discussed over coffee at the course. I know it is something a lot of us who have been through divorce and separation struggle with. So I thought I’d share some of my mistakes in the hope that it might help someone else.
What I’ve learnt post-divorce
I met my ex when I was only 16 – at that point in life no one really “dates” it’s more the case that a clumsy snog at a party or a note passed in French class nets you a boyfriend. At that age, if you are unsure about where you stand (perhaps it was dark at the party) it is totally normal to ask that important and defining question: “Does this mean you’re my boyfriend?” If all else fails it was also totally acceptable to dispatch a willing friend to speak those immortal lines to the object of your affection “My friend fancies you”.
So my first tentative experiences of real dating, without the youthful advantages of school disco snogging opportunities, was as a recently separated woman of 30. In some ways, it was not that different. I was reunited with the same nervous nauseous feelings of my 16-year-old self and was literally weak at the knees whenever I went on a date. On one memorable occasion, I kept tripping over all the time. I blamed my shoes – he probably thought I was some kind of crazy.
I started to wonder where all these nerves were coming from? I’m a pretty confident person, I manage to meet all sorts of people in a business and social context without falling over – why was I falling apart as soon as it was a date?
Mistake number #1 Seeing every date as if it might be the making or ruin of the whole of the rest of your life… It’s just a date, this is just you meeting someone to decide if you enjoy each other’s company and if there is mutual attraction. As soon as I was able to wrap my head around this new perspective it revolutionised the dating experience for me. There is a huge list of the things I no longer have to worry about because I know that it will not ruin the rest of my life if this date is a disaster.
I realised after a few dates with different people that I wasn’t really ready. Being a practical sort of girl I had oversimplified my problem and identified an oversimplified solution…. I had lost a husband and therefore if I just found a new one everything would be ok again. So mistake number #2 Dating before you are really ready. I dated some lovely people but I was an emotional wreck. I know that by rushing into this ill-advised early period of dating I hurt others. (If that was you….I am truly very sorry)
The chances of meeting a new partner right away are pretty low, we all have to kiss a few frogs before we find the Prince/cess of our dreams. It’s tricky because at least half the time you’re probably going to be the frog in the equation and the prince/cess might not want to kiss you at all. Rejection is just part of dating. Mistake number #3 Taking it personally if someone’s not interested. This is easy advice to give but really difficult to take especially when you are vulnerable and still smarting from relationship breakdown.
In my case, it was my husband who left so I had all sorts of rejection issues and a low level of self-confidence going into dating. Sometimes, however well-matched a prospective date appears to be, the attraction just isn’t mutual. This does not mean that you are unattractive, unloveable or a dating dud. If someone isn’t interested you can’t take it to heart. Instead feel pleased that by making your interest known you have just paid someone a massive compliment, smile and shout NEXT!
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