3 Things to Do Before You Date Again After Divorce

Posted by in dating after divorce, dating in midlife, online dating after 40 | 4 comments

dating after divorceI recently went out with a “Harvard-trained sweet, caring, confident and generous man with a terrific and adorable sense of humor” (from his JDate.com profile essay). He had listed his marital status as divorced. As soon as we began sipping our lattes, he revealed that he was newly separated. His “amazing, brilliant” therapist had encouraged him to date right away. What?? First of all, I don’t usually date separated men (they’re still married!), so thanks dude for misrepresenting yourself. Second, what kind of therapist encourages her patient to date again before the divorce is final?

My date may have been in a lousy relationship with no sex for many years. That can feel very lonely. I get it. Been there, done that. But I feel that you should wait to date again after divorce when the papers are signed AND you’ve done some preliminary work. I’ll talk about that in a minute.

Let’s get back to separated-posing-as-divorced guy. He did not get a second date with me. I don’t want to be the woman with whom he makes all his mistakes. And he made plenty in the short time between first email and first date.

First email:

“I was completely taken by your profile and photo.  I’ll be in NY this weekend and you can join me in my Grand Tier Box viewing Madame Butterfly at the Met on friday night or meet quickly for coffee or a drink some other time this weekend.

Um…I don’t know you and you’re inviting me to box seats at the opera? You don’t invite a stranger to the opera in a first email. You haven’t even spoken to me yet. What if I were an axe murderer? Awkward sitting next to a serial killer for a few hours at the opera! Okay, so I’m not an axe murderer and neither are most people online, but you need to take it slow and build some rapport before asking a woman to the opera. It’s easy to fall for “potential”. When I first started dating again after divorce, I had waited two years, but I still did my share of projecting all kinds of incredible qualities on a man before a first date. Inevitably, this almost always led to total and absolute disappointment. Who can live up to that type of expectation?

First date:

After I nixed the opera, we scaled it back quite a bit. We met at dinnertime at a trendy Italian restaurant, and had planned for a coffee date. He asked if I was hungry. I said yes. He said he had a big lunch and only wanted coffee and gave the menus back to the waiter. What??

Did I mention that he was 20-minutes late and didn’t apologize? Oh, and then he started giving me medical advice because he “cared” about me. No, thank you. About an hour into the date, he got a call from his answering service. He had an emergency at the hospital and had to abruptly end the date. Yep. Awkward, right? Doctor’s know their on-call schedule in advance. Why plan a date when you know you’re on-call?This is why it’s important to make sure you do these 3 things before dating.

3 Things to Do Before Dating After Divorce

1. Figure out what you want in a partner. If you haven’t already done this, write a dream list of your ideal partner. Who is he? What qualities would you like him to have? What will he look like? How will you feel with him? Once you know what you must have and must not have in a future relationship, you’ll date with more clarity.

2. Ditch the ex anger. If you’ve been on a date with an ex-basher, you know how draining it can be. Make sure you’ve let go of any residual anger before dating. That negative energy will repel a good guy from asking you out again.

3. Get excited about dating. If you are approaching dating like a root canal, your dates will be as lackluster as your attitude. Get excited about the possibility of finding love with a fabulous partner. They exist, but you’ll only find him if you have a positive attitude.

After you’ve completed these 3 steps, get out there and date. You’ll make mistakes along the way, but that’s how you learn. Track your learning by keeping a dating journal. Each date is your teacher, and one lucky guy will be the one who clicks with you. And let me know how it goes. I want you to find love again!

Note: A version of this article first appeared in DivorcedMoms.com on March 17th. 

If you are truly serious about finding love this year, there’s nothing like group coaching to keep you accountable and give you dating tools that work. The Last First Date Inner Circle features two monthly topic-based Q & A calls about dating over 40 and a private forum for women to connect and share their experiences. All calls are recorded and transcribed, and you get a free chapter a month of my upcoming book. This month, we’re talking about how to communicate with men without nagging. Check it out.

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  1. Did I do it all wrong? Immediately after leaving the house I
    began dating and there were many women who turned me down due to being
    separated, even if my marriage was over and I relocated to my home state.

    Whereas I can understand your suggestion regarding dating
    folks that are not divorced isn’t each situation worth a look? And, more
    importantly, if you meet someone who rocks your boat what is so wrong with
    supporting him or her while they are going through the process? We are adults
    and should be able to figure out what is going on with each person we meet.
    There are far more issues that send a danger signal than marital status.

    I began putting out there what it was that I wanted in a
    relationship. I also tried to be open to change and expect the lady to be in
    the same place when it comes to change. If you don’t speak your mind how does
    the other person know what is on your mind? If they can’t deal with where you
    are at perhaps they are not for you.

    I dated a freshly separated lady that I met at a garage
    sale. Within a month I figured out that she needed to be back with her husband
    (who I thought was a cool guy). And I let her know my position and eventually
    she went back. I really enjoyed my time with her and was happy when she made
    her move. I was out nothing rather had a wonderful several months with her and
    felt as if I had added something to her life.

    Sandy is right that you should figure out what you want in a
    partner. And don’t sweat the small stuff. In my current relationship, and this
    might very well be the one for me, I realized that she was finding fault in me
    and likely warranted. However I also had this thought that if I was open and
    attentive that some of the faultfinding might relax and it did.

    About 15 years ago my good friend was divorcing however due
    to the law in CA he chose to live in their extremely large estate until it
    sold. He was well-established, reasonably well known and had an active life
    with his wife and a lot of people were rushing to set him up with friends.
    Sleeping in separate bedrooms made him uncomfortable with dating. I eventfully
    was able to convince him that each person that was attempting to set him up
    knew his situation and that he was a quality guy. He met a lady and they have
    been blissfully married for a long time now. She is also a well known quality
    lady and she dated a guy that was separated and living in the same house as his

    If you are dating with some desperation to get into a relationship
    then you are probably going to continue to be online. If you are willing to
    take some time and smell the roses you might just meet the man of your dreams.
    I see it as being willing to have it not work out as a positive state of mind.
    Take some time and enjoy each person and in doing so you will be amazed… you
    might just find the person of your dreams.

    By the time we are in our 50’s and 60’s we have a lot of
    issues going on. Sort through the issues even if one happens to be marital

  2. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Happy Guy. I agree with you that you do need to look at each person’s situation. This guy that I had dated was not for me and made plenty of dating mistakes. Many of them were innocent, but some were downright rude, like handing the menus back to the waiter after I told him I was hungry, and when he gave me unsolicited medical advice. He told me that my doctor was mishandling me, and recommended another physician. He was on call that night, which he must have known in advance, and ended the date abruptly because of an emergency.

    The point I was trying to make is that I am at a point in my life where I know what I want. I’ve made plenty of dating mistakes. And I’ve learned from them all. I want to date a man who is ready for a relationship, not a rebound, not a fling, but ready like I am. That’s important to me.

    And the part of my article where I list the three things necessary before dating again? Notice that I don’t mention the 1 year rule. Just make sure you’re ready to date and know what it is that you’re looking for.

  3. Easy! Date younger men for awhile! Really helped the self esteem greatly. Why date someone elses leftovers?

  4. Amanda,

    We’re all someone else’s “leftovers”. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock and never dated or had a relationship, which would make you a very scary person to date! Age is not an indication of maturity or depth. Get to know people for who they are, not an image of what they represent to you.

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