Most people I know have a love/hate relationship when it comes to dating after divorce. Dating is fun and exciting and sexy if you're on a date with someone you really like. Dating stinks if you're sitting there smiling and counting the minutes in your head until the food comes so you can get the check and get the heck out of there!
Dating after divorce is also the best thing on earth if you fall for someone and you get really cute texts and you feel like you're in high school again. Dating is awful when you really thought you hit it off with a guy and you never hear from him again. Or if you have to break up with someone.
I could tell story after story about the weirdos, psychos, bizarre, needy, mean-spirited, bitter men I've met in the past, but I could also tell you about the many wonderful, caring, giving, loving men who are great catches. That's what dating is. It's putting yourself out there in hopes to meet someone you really connect with. It takes guts and patience and time. It's not easy. But when you meet the right one, it will all have been worth it.
Here are 5 people you really don't want to date. If you see these behaviors, move on quickly!
1. The Trasher: The trasher is the person who cannot stop trashing his or her ex. He is constantly calling her "the bitch." Or she is telling you about every little thing he does that bothers her (in detailed stories that take a half hour.) The trasher is clearly is not over the anger and bitterness of the separation and needs either time or therapy or both. You can try telling him or her in a constructive way that they need to stop trashing their ex. If that doesn't work, you need to say buh-bye.
2. The Sticker: This person is the opposite of the trasher. He or she is sticking to their ex like glue. He talks about what a great mother she is. She talks about what a great friend he's been. They spend a lot of time together "for the kids." It's possible that the sticker wants to get back together with his or her ex. I actually went out with a sticker six years ago. He talked about his ex in such a loving way that I kept saying, "You should get back together." He is still single. He's had a million girlfriends, but always ends the relationship. I want to clarify that I think it is wonderful when exes can get along and have birthday dinners with their kids as a family, but you will know if it's gone beyond that, so don't fool yourself.
3. The Drinker: When I was going through my divorce, my therapist warned me that people who are going through divorce are be more prone to alcohol addiction for two reasons: One, because they are stressed and they may use alcohol to numb the pain and anxiety of the divorce, and two, because they are often out a lot, at bars and restaurants and on dinner dates, where everyone is drinking. Be careful about the drinking for yourself, but regarding your date, if he or she is ordering drinks right and left at dinner, there are two things you need to know. Be smart enough not to get into a car if the person is driving, and secondly, recognize that he or she is a drinker before you get into a relationship with him or her. I think it's safe to say that at the beginning of a relationship, people usually drink more, because it's new and you are both shy and getting to know each other, but be smart enough to recognize when his or her drinking becomes more of a dependency, rather than a social occurrence.
4. The Person With A Mean Streak: True story: I went out with a guy who I was obsessed with for a long time. He was cute, fun and very charismatic. Then, one time, out of nowhere, he was really mean to me. Blatantly rude, as if his personality had completely changed. Then he went back to being nice again. But I never forgot that. My theory is if you see it once, you will surely see it again.
5. The Jumper: The jumper is the guy or girl who loves to be in love. The ink on the divorce decree isn't even dry and he or she is talking about marrying you. You've known the person for three months. You're still in that "jump into bed the second you see each other" phase and he or she is talking about ring shopping. The jumper isn't a bad person, just afraid to be alone or trying to compete with his or her ex because that person already has someone. Remember this: You don't have to be engaged or married to have true love. Let yourself heal from your divorce (which takes at least five years in my opinion) and just enjoy the relationship. No need for rings and a honeymoon! Buy yourself a nice piece of jewelry and go on a fun trip with him. That's such a better option.
Here's my closing advice: Date someone who lets you be who you are, who is kind to you (and your kids), who supports your passion or your career, who is thoughtful, who makes you feel good about yourself and who makes you feel happy and loved. Those are the gems. Have hope. They're out there!
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of the blog, Divorced Girl Smiling. She is also the author of her new divorce novel with the same name, as well as her other divorce novel, FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE. Ms. Pilossoph is a weekly business features reporter and columnist for Sun-Times Media. She lives in Chicago with her two kids. Oh, and she's divorced!