Divorce is messy and painful. That was the easy part to understand. I had seen enough people go through it to know.
After 14 years of marriage, I was now a single dad who had not been in the dating world since last decade.
I felt like a boy who finally found the nerve to climb the high dive and walk to the edge. Peering down at the shimmering water below, I was suddenly very afraid.
Now that I know the truths, here are three things I've learned from this adventure they call dating.
You're Going to Stink at it for a While
Trust me, you've lost your mojo.
I was once charming. I considered myself pretty smooth and capable. It was a hard realization when I discovered that all of those skills had left me.
I was clumsy, uncertain and a little goofy. No longer did I seem to possess the skill to say the right thing, or the capacity to think up a charming response. Not for lack of trying.
And then there's the kissing. You think you know how, but you don't really know how.
The problem is that these new people kiss differently than what you're familiar with. Each flick of the tongue or nibble of the lip is going to feel uncertain and somewhat awkward.
There's no kiddie pool for all this though fellas, you've just got to jump in and figure it out. And yes, it does get easier with time.
You're Out of Style
Here's the deal... you have not been in the scene for a while. You see all those "kids" out there partying it up and living the single life, but that's not you. I don't care how old you are, you have lost touch with what is really popular among the single crowd.
Certainly some of you have stayed more in touch than others, but there's a reason they call them "dad jeans" and "dad bod." You are likely not versed on the latest trends and styles, because let's be honest, you've probably been dressed by your ex for several years.
Even if you've kept up on things, you likely don't know how to pull the looks off with confidence, because let's face it, you're not going to be that confident.
It's going to take trying on more than one shirt, and you will find your self considering more than one pair of shoes. Of course you want to make a good impression... just realize that some of your outfits probably still have booger stains on them so you're going to need to try a little harder.
You Have a Curfew
OK, time for some real honesty. Unless you have been maintaining a night life throughout your previous marriage, you come from the world of bedtime stories and school projects. Your biological clock has been calibrated to more closely match those of your children.
They have a bedtime, a magical word that means you finally get to watch your shows. That also means that your body has developed a routine and its own version of bedtime. You're not going to easily escape that.
Just wait until you try going out for that late night concert or movie. Your body is going to remind you who is in charge, and you are going to struggle. This makes it awkward for that cute young date of yours who has been doing the kid-less thing for a long time now. And if she has kids of her own, then you can play chicken all you want, but one of you is going to fold long before the clock strikes midnight.
You'll go on adrenaline for a while, but that only lasts so long. You are going to need to plan shorter or earlier dates in order to prevent her from seeing just how old you really are.
Get Out There and Figure it Out
There's no easy way around it, you are going to be awkward and bumble your way through a few dates initially. If you're lucky you will have sweet dates who are understanding and even appreciative of your effort. Regardless, you've got to get through the first few, so you might as well get started.
Over time, you will regain the skills and charm you once had. You will find that you are still that guy who once fooled a woman to fall in love with them. Eventually, you may even trick one in to doing it again.
May the odds be ever in your favor!
Question: What was your biggest surprise about dating after a divorce? Leave a comment below.
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