Sit in a room with a group of singles and divorcées and the conversation will inevitably turn to dating and, as is usually the case, dating stories. You will hear all about the date who didn't look like his or her photo, the date who turned out to be married, and the date who said he or she was looking for a relationship but really wasn't. And the list goes on.
After listening to a few of these "war stories," someone new to dating, especially someone dating after divorce, might want to duck for cover. But, the truth is, dating after divorce can be a positive experience, despite the naysayers. How positive an experience it is, however, will depend on you, not the people you meet, particularly when you are meeting online or through a dating app where the possibilities appear infinite. The truth is, they are infinite but you do have to go in search of them, and you do need to be strategic about your plan. Here's how.
1. Prioritize your ideal match's qualities. Dating after divorce has never been easier than it is today given the access you have to other singles through online dating sites and apps. But sometimes the sheer number of people you can potentially meet feels overwhelming. One way to counter this is to think about what qualities your ideal match would possess. Are you looking for someone whose children are school age? In college? Are you looking for a potential partner who is also divorced and can relate to some of your experiences? Niche sites and apps that focus on a smaller group such as those who have children or those who are divorced can narrow the playing field to a comfortable one and increase your odds of finding a match.
2. Keep your expectations realistic. After you have thought about what would interest you in a prospective partner, take a step back and ask yourself, "What are my deal breakers and what can I let slide?" If you are not looking to have more children, then it's probably wise you do not date someone who would like to start a family. Similarly, if you are unable to relocate at some point, then you should concentrate on dating those who live more locally or are in a position to move someday. Regardless of what your selling points and breaking points are, keep in mind that no one will ever fulfill every entry on your list, no matter how wonderful they seem. Maintaining some flexibility is not only okay but wise.
3. Be honest. In keeping with number two, which requires you being honest with yourself about your expectations, pay that honesty forward by also being honest with your prospective matches. That means not lying on your dating profile about your age, weight or other pertinent details and posting recent pictures of yourself that accurately portray who you are and what you look like. If you do lie, not only will you likely anger your date should you get to that point, but you will potentially be matching yourself with someone who is not necessarily compatible with you. And since the idea is to find a match, wouldn't you rather increase your chances of doing so right from the beginning?
4. Make time for dating. It's important not to let the prospect of finding love and companionship post-divorce steal time from your work, family, and those pastimes that bring you joy. In other words, don't let dating consume you. The idea is for dating to add to your life, not subtract from it. In the same vein, it's equally as important not to let your life consume you either. When you can, multitask. Waiting for the train? Picking up dinner? Take a moment and check out that dating app on your phone. Swipe to see who's there, text a quick "hi" to that cute guy or girl you matched with, ask your "wingman," virtual or otherwise, their opinion, and take it from there. The time to date is there if you know how to find it.
5. Live in the moment. It's tempting to feel sorry for oneself when a swipe doesn't turn into a text, a text doesn't turn into an email, an email doesn't turn into a date, a first date doesn't turn into a second date, and so forth. The key is to put dating in perspective. Dating is not a zero-sum game. Just because you don't move forward as a couple doesn't mean the date you were on didn't have value, even a "bad" date. There are takeaways from every encounter even if you never see that person again like engaging in stimulating conversation, discovering a fact you never knew before, making a friend, escaping your everyday life for a few hours, learning something new about another person, and, even better, learning something new about yourself. The best part is, you are still free to meet the person who is just right for you. And isn't that what dating after divorce is all about?