SMART GIRLFRIENDS GUIDE™ to Dating after Divorce
By Star Young
Dating after divorce can either be ‘oh good’ or ‘oh no.’ Whether it’s first or last on the to do list depends on where you are in the divorce process and your emotional state of mind. Most clinical therapists agree that it’s best to wait to date until after you’re divorced in order to have closure, heal and prepare yourself for your future.
Whether you’re ready or not, the first question you should ask yourself is “Would you want to date you?” Really think about it. You meet yourself for the first time. What would that first impression be?
We change as we age and as we accumulate life experiences. Add the most stressful experience of divorce into the mix and we may not recognize the face starring us back in the mirror. A divorce can be an aberration and surreal experience that is devastating, liberating and life changing, all at the same. Do you like the person you are now? Do you enjoy spending time alone with yourself? Would someone enjoy being with you?
It’s smart to examine the reasons whether you do or don’t want to date. If you are dating, are you motivated to date for revenge, just for fun, for intimacy or for a future partner? Your intent for dating can attract just what you’re looking for, so be mindful of what you want.
If you ‘re attracting the wrong guys or not attracting guys at all, rethink your dating strategy by examining yourself first and what your are projecting. If it’s been a while and you’re still not ready to date, ask yourself what fear is holding you back? If you don’t know where to start then start with yourself, define the person that you want to be in or out of a relationship.
Get to know yourself again, date yourself and learn to love and respect yourself first and then others will too. Knowing and loving who you are also puts you in the best perspective to date the right type of person for you. Your needs, desires and preferences will be clearer as you look for the right partner for you.
- Before you start to look for a relationship, ask yourself, “Are you the person that you want to be in a relationship?” Make an honest list of what you love about yourself and what you what you want to change. Then make a list of what you would like to improve or change about yourself. Based on your list, make a specific plan to be the person that you want to be emotionally, physically, and spiritually (I put mine in a picture frame as a picture of the new me!).
- No matter the reason, no matter who’s at fault, no matter the length of the marriage, there is often a grieving process. From denial, anger, depression to acceptance, release and healing, the intensity and duration of grief is different for each individual. Be aware of where you are in the process and how it affects you and your dating decisions. A good therapist can be a great date on your calendar to help make the right decisions for you.
- If you are still in the midst of your divorce don’t date just to make your ex jealous. If someone cheated on you it is understandable you want to show them. However, this can backfire on you and prolong or exacerbate the divorce, especially if it is already an antagonistic relationship.
- If you want a longer, harder, and more expensive divorce, see number (1) and number (2) and get the appropriate professional help to get you “unstuck.”
- “Unfriend” your ex and any of the ex’s close friends. The same goes for Instagram, Twitter and any other social media. It would be better for both of you.
- Don’t go to the old marital favorite places, at least for a while. Make new and better memories somewhere. You can’t move forward looking in the rear view mirror.
- Styles change and so should your look. Go through your closet, possibly with an honest girlfriend and make three piles of ‘keep’, ‘maybe’ and ‘recycle’ for the clothes you don’t wear or that don’t flatter you. Immediately bag the recycle clothes and donate that day (keep the bag and you could be tempted to pull something out.)
- Go to several fashion stores and try on everything you like. Have the sales people help you pick out what is most flattering for your body and the best look for you. Once you determine your style, work within your budget and start to build your wardrobe. A new pair of shoes or a great new accessory can be a great start.
- A bad hair day or just bad hair can bring a woman down. Don’t just cut your hair ask a trusted stylist about flattering styles or colors just for you. Make sure it is a hairstyle that matches your fashion style. Just like your nails, effort is important but you need to maintain your style. Upkeep should match your life style.
- Working out is good for your health, your mind and your figure. It can give you more energy, lower your blood pressure, inspire you to eat healthy, help you sleep better and make you glow. You don’t have to join a gym, try different classes and activities to see what you like and what works for your body type.
- Happy women are attractive. Find your inner peace and happiness whether it’s personal counseling, inspirational books, mediating or volunteering. Weekend retreats can be as good as botox. You can fake a smile, eyelashes and height but you can’t fake inner peace, true happiness and self-confidence.
- Think about what you want in a future partner. It maybe fun to make a detailed list of physical, emotional, spiritual, sexual, intellectual, and financial criteria but remember no one is perfect. Are you perfect? You deserve to have your top criteria but keep an open-mind, you never know who you might meet.
- Date when you are emotionally ready and most importantly, when you’ve done the work on yourself. Everyone’s timetables are different.
- Practice your smile, it’s your personal calling card. Share smiles wherever you go. They can be flirty, caring or just for fun. Science has proven that smiles make you feel better so keep smiling.
- There are so many options to meet people; through friends and social activities, as well as online dating sites. New hobbies are great ways to meet new people with a common interest. Just be open to new opportunities and new people.
- Keep the first date easy. Besides coffee or a meal, activities can be a great first date and gives you the ability to see more than one side of a person.
- On a first date, follow the Jerry Maguire advise, don’t tell your sad story and talk about your divorce, ex or children. You don’t want to date an emotionally wounded person, so don’t be that person.
- Practice mindful dating. Mindfulness is taking each moment as it comes and it also makes you a more enjoyable person to spend time with. Be yourself and make a genuine connection. Don’t compare your date to your ex or worry about what the date thinks of you. Stay in the moment, tune into your needs instead of getting caught up in expectations. Mindful dating helps to let go of negative past dating experiences that can cause you to miss out on a wonderful relationship or fall for one that is not worth your time.
- Some single parents don't date because they're worried about the effect it may have on their children. Some single parents date too much and neglect the children. Children shouldn’t make the decisions about your love life but they are always part of the equation.
- Overall dating should be fun. If it becomes a job, step back and relax. Spend the time on finding or fulfilling your passions, a time when people often find new love. Overall enjoy the changes you have experienced, be thankful and show gratitude even for the small things. Keep dreaming, evolving, and believing in yourself and your future.
Star Young is an entrepreneur and Fortune 500 award winning executive. Ms.Young is a certified excellence coach and a trained facilitator of Edward Deming Continuous Improvement. In addition, she has been a talent for CBS syndicated programming, as well as a co- founder of the Beauty Spot and author of Smart Girlfriends Guide series.