When interviewing singles for my new dating guide, I wasn’t surprised by how many had been through a divorce or major breakup.
After all, the divorce rate is 41%. Never before have there been so many “silver singles” looking for love again.
But what really struck me was the common theme of zero confidence.
With life experience of careers, committed relationships and in most cases having children, you’d assume older singles would feel fine about handling a date. Yet they were plagued by self-doubt and anxiety.
SOS tip No. 1: Get your timing right
The fear of being alone can put terrible pressure on you to start dating ASAP. But timing is everything.
You need to have recovered from the worst of the breakup, otherwise you won’t be able to put your best foot forward with confidence.
You’re probably ready when you have more good than bad moments in a day.
SOS tip No. 2: Look for fun and friendship
If you plunge into the singles’ scene looking for love, it can appear desperate. Men easily read signs of an overly keen woman – she laughs at everything he says, picks up her phone on the first ring and replies to messages immediately.
Instead, look for fun and friendship. Keep things light-hearted, banishing the thought that he’s The One the minute you see him.
SOS tip No. 3: Emotional baggage
The battle scars of breakups come in many forms. Two main types are unexpressed anger about the way your ex treated you and insecurities about how “dateable” you are.
If you’re still fantasising about getting back at your ex, you may take this out on a new man. If you’ve been left with insecurities, your inner voice is probably saying, “I’m not good enough”.
Boost confidence with friends’ and family support before looking for love.
SOS tip No. 4 : Be yourself – your best possible self
You shouldn’t pretend to be outgoing if you’re quiet, or that you’re up to date with technology if you can’t work an iPod. Single men rank high someone who is genuine and trustworthy.
So share your interests when you meet a Mr Potential. Keep things simple and genuine, asking if they’ve seen a film you’ve just seen, or if they like that new TV drama, etc.
SOS tip No. 5: Resist fast-forwarding things
You’re lonely and can’t believe you’re no longer in a relationship. There’s a big void to fill. It’s a powerful temptation to dive into a new one. You think, “He’ll do,” overlooking “red alerts” such as you’ve nothing in common.
When you’re living happily as a single, you make a better partner. Put the brakes on if you meet someone and suddenly want to message him all the time and see him every evening. A slower pace prevents heartbreak.
SOS tip No. 6: The revealing things he says about exes
Watch for five key negative things he says about exes. They tell you loads about him as a potential partner.
1) It was always their fault – this man takes little responsibility.
2) He “can’t trust again” – he’ll look for a way out when things get serious.
3) He always makes bad choices – at some point he’ll decide you’re one.
4) Relationships always hurt – he’s become negative.
5) He regrets being with his exes – emotional and immature. We’ve all had exes, you can’t wish them away.
SOS tip No. 7: Recognise the desire to recreate your old life
No two relationships are the same, yet many who’ve had a committed relationship subconsciously try to recreate it. This is especially true if you didn’t want to divorce.
Don’t start hoping to recreate your old life. Your dating success depends on meeting a new person and accepting them for who they are.
SOS tip No. 8: Sex when newly single
You’re an adult and can decide when you want sex. Just ensure you feel confident about who you go to bed with. But here are five reasons you shouldn’t have sex:
1) You want to prove you’re still attractive to men.
2) You’re out of control and jumping into bed with anyone.
3) You hurt over your breakup and want comfort.
4) You hope your ex finds out and gets jealous.
5) You secretly hope this new man falls for you.
SOS tip No. 9: Dust off your dating confidence
Do something new every day to increase self-belief. Keep it as simple as going somewhere new for lunch or joining an evening class (a great place to meet potential dates).
Remind yourself daily of the best qualities you offer. And stop that little devil on your shoulder when it says, “No man will be attracted to me.”
SOS tip No. 10: Never rush introductions
If you have children, don’t rush to introduce them to every date. A revolving-door policy isn’t emotionally healthy.
It’s surprising how quickly younger children form new bonds. You won’t be the only one with a broken heart if it falls apart.