Be brave enough to give love another shot.
By Susan Trombetti
Last updated on Oct 18, 2023
Photo: pixdeluxe | canva
Dating after divorce is nerve-wracking, but you know what? You deserve to find happiness.
Ending a marriage can bring to light your insecurities, fears, unfulfilled desires, and dealbreakers, all while causing you to reconsider what’s important to you in a partner.
So, if you’re gearing up to get back out there, bravo on being brave enough to give love another shot!
Many people ask how long to wait before dating again. The truth is that there’s no one-size-fits-all timeline.
Are you ready to date after divorce?
The real question is: Have you allowed yourself some time to grieve your previous marriage? Are you ready to move on?
If you are thinking and talking about your ex a lot, you need a little more time to process your feelings to let go of the past. Be patient with yourself.
As much as you may crave validation from someone new, that won’t heal your wounds, nor is it the right way to embark on a healthy relationship.
Jumping back into dating before you’re emotionally ready isn’t fair to yourself or your prospective dates.
So, you’ve mourned your marriage and taken some time to reflect on it — now what,
Before you get out there again, here are 12 tips on dating after divorce, from a professional matchmaker:
1. Build your confidence.
Ending a marriage can take a toll on your self-esteem. You may feel it’s your fault that the marriage fell apart, that you’re a “failure” because it didn’t work out.
Before you can even think about introducing a new love interest into your life, you need to work on yourself to banish those self-sabotaging thoughts.
The best way to attract a healthy relationship is by having confidence and not just faking it. You have to believe that you’re worthy and capable of love.
Any time you notice a negative thought about yourself popping up, write it down or say it out loud.
As you start noticing your destructive thought patterns, you’ll slowly re-wire and shift toward more positive self-talk.
At the same time, build up your confidence by doing things that make you feel good about yourself, whether hitting the gym to strength train, spending time around supportive loved ones, or working on a new hobby.
Your support system can play a role in this, too. So, let your friends and family know you’re starting to date again.
They can cheer you on — providing a quick text to pump you up before a first date or making you laugh after a terrible one to help keep you motivated.
2. Define what you’re looking for.
What do you want out of your next relationship? Are you looking for a life partner? Just a fun “partner in crime” for now? Someone to travel with, that may turn into something more?
Once you’ve defined it, make a list of all the traits that are most important to you. Star the must-haves and note which ones you can live without.
Remember, no one will check every one of your boxes, so you need to be flexible and open-minded.
Figuring all of this out beforehand will help you narrow your focus and prevent you from wasting time by pursuing anyone who doesn’t meet your needs.
3. Take it slow.
Taking baby steps is the key. Don’t go downloading a bunch of apps and swiping through an endless sea of prospects — it’s a surefire recipe for getting overwhelmed, burned out, and jaded very quickly.
Instead, you can start by telling a few trusted friends you’re ready to meet new people. Put yourself out there by attending more social and networking events.
At a certain point, if you’re serious about finding “The One,” you may need to enlist some outside help, like a matchmaker.
4. Be proactive.
Let’s be realistic. The person of your dreams won’t simply land in your lap — you need to make an effort to put yourself in new situations and expose yourself to new people.
This may require getting out of your comfort zone.
You can start by visiting new bars, restaurants, and events rather than the same old places.
Or you can take up a new hobby, start volunteering, or join a local community board. That way, you’ll start meeting people who share some of your interests.
5. Forget your “type.”
While it’s valid to want to find someone you’re attracted to and who shares similar values, be careful of being too specific and rigid when it comes to your “type.”
Going through a divorce can be an excellent lesson in realizing that the people you’re drawn to or think are “perfect” for you aren’t always a good match.
Dare to ditch the idea of a “type” and recognize that what used to work for you may not work anymore. After all, you’re a growing, evolving human being. So, it’s crucial to keep an open mind when dating.
If you come across someone who breaks the mold of who you’ve dated in the past, lean into that. You may find them to be a refreshing change of pace.
6. Let yourself play the field.
It may be tempting to lock down another serious relationship after divorce if that’s what feels “safe” to you. Even if that’s what you’re ultimately after, don’t put all your eggs in one basket right off the bat.
After marriage, you deserve time to explore the dating realm again before committing so you can get a stronger sense of what works for you.
If you decide to go this route, be clear with the people you date, so there are no misunderstandings or hurt feelings.
And if you don’t feel comfortable going on dates with multiple people at once or that’s not your style, that’s OK, too.
7. Remember what’s important.
Don’t forget that the most important thing to assess in any dating situation is how that person makes you feel.
Do you feel respected and valued? Do you feel attractive?
In the dating world, there’s so much emphasis on compatibility. You need to share a few things in common but don’t place too much importance on having the same interests or personality traits.
Honestly, it can be pretty boring to date a clone of yourself. If you’re looking for long-term love, do you want similar things out of life?
8. Don’t compare your dates to your ex.
This is the kiss of death for any budding relationship. As soon as you start mentally comparing your date to how your ex behaved, make it a point to push those thoughts away.
It’s unfair to you. You need to see your date as a unique individual and not from the perspective of your last relationship.
And it’s not fair to them, either, because you’re not giving them a real chance if they unknowingly need to live up to someone else.
9. Keep it low-pressure.
You don’t want to rush this. Before you start fantasizing about your next wedding or thinking about introducing your date to your kids, remind yourself that your only objective right now is to meet new people.
Taking the pressure off the situation can allow you to enjoy the process more and hopefully eliminate unnecessary anxiety and stress.
10. Tread carefully online.
Dating apps have become common — they offer a convenient way to connect with lots of people. But they aren’t for everyone.
Not every person on these apps knows what they want, nor is serious about finding someone they click with long-term.
So, be on guard when using these apps and consider other ways to meet other singles.
Do some reading about which apps are for committed relationships rather than hookups. Be aware that online dating does come with certain risks, like catfishing and kittenfishing.
11. Avoid talking about your ex.
If it comes up naturally, it’s OK to tell your date you’ve already been married before.
But don’t start badmouthing your ex or venting about the divorce process. Unloading that baggage onto someone new is not a good look and will likely hurt your odds of getting a second date.
That said, once you’re comfortable enough with someone and you’ve been on a handful of dates, don’t feel like you have to tiptoe around or hide the facts of your past from them.
Understanding where you’re coming from will be helpful as you potentially build a future together.
12. Trust your instincts.
As someone divorced, you’ve likely learned from your mistakes, can spot red flags, and identify your boundaries better. Take advantage of this.
If you’re just not feeling a connection with someone or have a bad feeling about them, trust your gut and move on. You know yourself well enough by now to figure out what does and doesn’t work for you.
The number one thing to remember as you re-enter the dating realm is to have fun.
Take things slowly, keep an open mind, ditch the pressure, and let connections evolve organically — that’s how to enter this new chapter post-divorce.
And remember, there’s no shame in getting a little additional guidance as you get back out there.
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Susan Trombetti is a matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking. She’s appeared on Fox, ABC, NBC, ABC, Cosmopolitan, Shape, and as a guest contributor of The Wall Street Radio.
This article was originally published at Exclusive Matchmaking. Reprinted with permission from the author.