Dating After Divorce: Are You Ready?

As these feelings began to overtake me more and more, I realized I was no longer living alone -- I was living lonely. I was ready to date.
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Back in the days when I was happily married, friends and I would sit around over our wine spritzers (this was before the day I switched over to hard core dirty martinis) and talk about our marriages, which was easy to do because we were so IN them. So secure in our relationships, so blinded to the perilous bends in the road that we were driving towards. We would say things like: "Well if anything, GOD FORBID, ever happened to Paul, I don't think I would ever remarry."

And by anything, we meant, a fatal accident or insidious illness snatching them out of our happy little lives. At this point, we could not see any other way that they would leave us. Certainly not of their own volition, walking out the front door on their two, strong, healthy legs, their arms full of clothing and items they felt mattered enough to take with them. Certainly not driving away in their car towards something or someone who promised excitement, newness. MORE than meatloaf Wednesdays, Saturday night movies and frozen yogurt and Sunday dinners at the parents'.

Anyway, we would continue: "I mean why would I ever remarry? I've had the love of my life, I've had my children. I could be happy alone, I think."

"Yes," we all would agree as the spritzer bubbled up a little bit in our throats, causing us to hiccup and giggle, as we divided up the check and headed home to watch Seinfeld with our hubbies. Yes, I could be happy alone.

During my divorce years, I had a slightly different view. I wanted to be alone because I could never imagine being with another man -- not because I still loved my ex-husband, or even because I didn't want strange feet in my bed (I have a thing about feet; I'm trying to work through it), but because I hated men.

I might be standing behind you at the grocery and say: "I hate men don't you?" and then you would say, "Whew boy! I hear ya -- can't wait for football season to end!" and then I would say, tears streaming down my face: "No, I mean don't you really hate them?" at which point you would say: "OH! They have bogo on fire roasted tomatoes!" and slowly back away with your cart in search of a line with normal people in it.

And then. I was out to dinner with some friends and I heard the deep laugh of a man make its way across the room. I felt a little chill go across my shoulders, a little tingle in my nethers. I would be talking to the sales guy at Bed Bath and Beyond about the Keurig -- Should I or shouldn't I? I didn't. I still have to fresh grind. -- and get a whiff of his aftershave. Similar result. As these feelings began to overtake me more and more, I realized I was no longer living alone -- I was living lonely. I was ready to date. Here are some ways that you will know the time has come!

1. "Divorced" is no longer how you describe yourself: For awhile after my divorce when I met new people who asked me: "So what do you do?" I would answer: "I'm divorced." Then, as time and healing went on I would answer: "I'm a writer." Then they would say: "Oh what have you written?" Ugh. Noseys.

Then I went into real estate so I could answer: "I'm a realtor," but then they would say: "Oh, how many listings do you have?" So, that wasn't really working either, but you get my point.

2. You are no longer angry at your ex: This is a big one. For a very long time the only way I would communicate with my ex was through email with, I am very ashamed to admit the words, "M*ther F*cker" in the subject line. Horrible.

Then one day we had a reason to meet for coffee, you know with four kids, things come up that cannot be dealt with on the Internet. So we met for coffee, and we laughed and reminisced, and when I left there I was like: "O.M.G.! I really want him to be happy!" I felt ten pounds lighter and happier myself.

3. You CAN live alone: Here's the thing, now you know you can live alone. You're doing it! You are strong and independent, and can take care of yourself. You know when you decide to date it won't be to find a caretaker, it will be to find a loving partner and companion.

4. You miss the sex, companionship, intimacy of a relationship: Isn't that what it boils down to? What woman eventually does not miss strong arms around her from time to time, or help with her zipper, or a man sitting beside her making fun of the Real Housewives, yet SITTING THERE because she likes it?

Is it wrong to miss having a car door opened, a dinner reservation made, a cup of morning coffee brought? Is there anything better than bed talk -- sharing your thoughts on the dinner party you just attended, your new job prospect, your daughter's boyfriend? No. And if you're ready, you can have it all on your terms, in your way.

If this applies to you, if you feel you are ready, go for it -- get out there. Have a friend introduce you to someone or try online dating. I have found that once you are ready and open to it, opportunities will come your way. Don't be scared, just be smart. You're ready.

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