Dating after 50 - especially when you're recently divorced after a long-term marriage - can be scary. The dating landscape has changed dramatically in the last decade. Understanding the new world of dating, and knowing what to do (and what NOT to do!) is critical if you want to create the relationship your truly desire.
If you're struggling with the whole idea of dating again after a divorce, and you're not sure how to start, when to start, or what to do, this video is for you.
Love and Dating Coach Maria Spears shares her experiences working with clients. She explains how she helps them get past their old stories and limiting beliefs so that they can find the partner they truly want. She also discusses how divorced parents with children can manage their dating life so as to minimize the effect their dating may have on their kids, while at the same time allowing them to enjoy a romantic relationship with a new partner.
As a Dating and Love Coach, Maria Spears empowers her clients to confidently navigate the dating world and find the love of their life, without wasting time or settling for being single. They create the best relationship of their lives and an extraordinary life with a partner who loves and cherishes them.
Where to Connect with Maria
You can find Maria on Facebook at Maria Spears, Dating & Love Coach and LinkedIn at Maria Spears. You can also connect with Maria at [email protected] and find resources for finding lifelong long on her website Maria Spears.
Do you like what you've heard?
Share the love so more people can benefit from this episode too!
How To Be Successful Dating After 50
people, dating, divorce, relationship, person, meet, life, question, thinking, partner, baggage, clients, coach, process, decision, maria, little bit, kids, athletes, marriage
Maria Spears, Karen Covy
Karen Covy 00:02
Hello, and welcome to Off the Fence. This is a podcast where we dive into decision making especially big, complicated emotional decisions so that we can find out what keeps us stuck and more importantly, how do we get unstuck?
I'm your host, Karen Covy, a former lawyer, mediator, arbitrator turned coach, author and entrepreneur. With me today is Maria Spears. Maria is a dating and love coach. She empowers her clients to confidently navigate the dating world, and find the love of their life without wasting time, or settling for being single. They create the best relationship of their lives when they work with Maria, and an extraordinary life with a partner who loves and cherishes them. And if that doesn't sound amazing, I don't know what does. So, Maria, welcome to the show.
Maria Spears 00:59
Thank you so much, Karen. I'm so delighted to be with you and to speak with your audience.
Karen Covy 01:03
Well, I am delighted to have you. I'd like to dive in by starting with a little bit of your backstory. What led you to become a love and dating coach?
Maria Spears 01:15
Well, it also found me, as many people will tell you, I think. I went through my own divorce 12 years ago. It was after that process that I discovered some of the things that if I had known them, I would not have made the choices that I did. So, it was a lack of understanding and information and also the lack of self-awareness that led me down that road. And today, I would like to help other people avoid those mistakes that I made, the pain that I went through, if at all possible. So, this is why I'm here.
Karen Covy 01:52
That makes a whole world of sense. I mean, a lot of my listeners, obviously, are either involved in a divorce or have been involved in a divorce at some point in their life. And so, the question that comes to mind is, if somebody is divorced, recently divorced perhaps, and they're trying to figure out is now a good time to start dating? How do they make that decision? How do they know if they're ready?
Maria Spears 02:25
So, there are a couple of ways. That's the best question that they need to answer first. There are a couple of ways that they can determine if it's the right time for them. First is to think about why would they be going out there in the first place to date? What is their purpose? Are they looking for companionship? Are they ready for a relationship? So, there's lots of people out there dating, but they really should be clear on what their purpose is. And that kind of drives the rest of the process.
The other thing is, if you're still having ruminating thoughts, or repeating thoughts about the past, about your ex about what they're doing now, or who they're dating, the divorce itself, then you're probably not quite clear yet from the divorce. And maybe the most you should be targeting yourself to do is just to get out there and see who's out there just to meet new people.
Karen Covy 03:26
So, let's say somebody's in that headspace, that ruminating. They’re still quite honestly not over their ex, right. What can they do? How can they get over it? What tips or tricks would you say to them? Like, yeah, go do these things and then you can move on into the dating world.
Maria Spears 03:47
Yeah. So, again, a really good question. This is the most important part that will help them in the future find the right partner, and have the fulfilling relationship that they wanted before they got married in the first place. So, that is to use this time to really dive deep into who they are, get a sense of who they are, again, because they're a different person than they were before the marriage. So, what they need and want has changed. It's a time to also find acceptance for the self, because we walk away from a relationship or divorce being hard on ourselves. Usually, we are filled with anger, denote regrets, shame, guilt, a lot of emotion. So, I feel based on my experience that it's best to process it either with a support group or with a therapist. That's probably the best to start out with.
And also, that point is the best for you to have a support network of people in your life. For myself, it was a couple of friends who had already gone through divorce, who took me under their wing, and really walked me through the process and supported me every step of the way. So, those things are key to getting you through the emotions post-divorce, and the self-discovery and coming out on the other side, starting to be excited about the new life you're going to create.
Karen Covy 05:27
That makes a lot of sense. I always tell my clients when they're going through a divorce, “You need a therapist. You need to start looking inside at your own stuff, and figure out why you made the choices you did, how you got to the place that you are, so that you don't make the same mistakes again.” Because just human beings being human beings, we tend to repeat our mistakes, unless we've really like learned from them, digested them, figured out what it was in us that made us do that thing. Because everything we do in the moment makes sense. And there's just afterwards you're going, ‘What was I thinking?’ So, that sounds like it's really good advice to go clean up your own act first, and then jump into the dating pool. But once you do make that decision, you say, “Okay. I think that I'm as over my stuff as I can be, whatever is over the divorce. Now what?” How do people even do this?
Maria Spears 06:40
Yeah. So, I do want to speak to what you just said that it won't be possible to be 100% over it. And it's the grace you give yourself to tell yourself, “Okay. This is going to be coming up time and again, as I'm out there dating.” Some things are going to feel raw. They're never going to feel completely comfortable. But that's okay. Because the more you go through them, the more you are closer to getting to the other side to the right person. So, to start with, my recommendation usually is and it's not the recommendation I give clients, but it's for everybody else out there is you want to start socializing more. Besides the self-discovery, you want to get out there and socializing more, get comfortable being around people first with friends and colleagues, etc. Then you want to start thinking about what is fun for you, focus on that. And when you get out into that environment, you start to naturally meet people, which dating people will call, meeting them organically in everyday life.
Karen Covy 07:51
That used to be the only way you met people, but we're not going there, or the main way anyway.
Maria Spears 07:57
It still is actually.
Karen Covy 08:02
I thought everybody did everything online. I didn't think that organic was a thing.
Maria Spears 08:08
Well, here's the thing is that in the data shows that about 12% of people who are online end up meeting their long-term partner or getting married to someone they met online. So, there's a lot of people on there. More and more are getting on there, especially people over 50 but they have different agendas. So, some are on there for physical comfort, companionship for just having fun. Some are looking for relationships or marriage. So, there's a wide net, an ocean of people out there that are looking for love in different ways. So, the bottom line is when 12% are meeting their spouses or their significant other online, that means everybody else is meeting some other way.
Karen Covy 08:58
Interesting. So, let me let me pick up on something that you just said where you've got to know your purpose like are you in this for companionship? For physical comfort? So, how do you suss out what the other person wants?
Maria Spears 09:39
Yeah, that's the question. There are different ways and there are questions that you can ask in the dating process. But first, you have to declare what you're looking for. And this goes counter to what we were taught in earlier decades when we were meeting people. You were taught to play hard to get, don't admit that you're interested. This is the opposite. If you're serious and looking for a relationship, you have to put it out there. And that quickly weeds out the people who are looking for something else. They kind of self-select out.
Karen Covy 10:16
Interesting. I never really thought about that. Well, let's say you're not looking for a full-blown relationship. Let's say you know you're not ready for that, but you're looking for someone to go to dinner with, someone to have a movie. Like, do you put that out there too? Do you say that right away?
Maria Spears 10:32
Yes. The honesty really is going to save you time, and it's going to save you also on uncomfortable situations, heartache because I think the other person, the other people on the other end also deserve to know what your intentions are. So, I am very much about authenticity and being upfront with people. So, yes, that's perfect. You would just state, “Hey, I am just newly out of a divorce. I haven't dated in a long time. I'm getting back to things. I'm meeting new people. And I just want to meet new people at this point, not looking for a long-term relationship. However, should I meet someone, and it goes down that path, I'm ultimately open to that.” So, if you have both things that you want down the road, you can state it upfront that way.
That’s really interesting. But what if I'm afraid, I'm just playing devil's advocate here, what if I'm like your client, which I'm not, but let's say I'm going back out there and I'm afraid that if I say what you just said that the guys are going to run away, that they're going to dump me if I say I'm recently out of a divorce, that that sort of puts like some sort of scarlet letter on me that they know, “Oh, she must be a headcase. I don't want to get involved with her.” So, what about that?
Maria Spears 12:00
Well, yes. People often have that fear. But the thing is that, at any given time, at least half the people out there are coming out of other relationships. So, they're going to have the same experience as you. And it's not at all a scarlet letter. People appreciate the honesty. And again, you'll be able to meet up with others who might have the same goal out there in the dating process as you.
Karen Covy 12:26
That's interesting. Okay. So, let's say you take that step, and you meet people, and I've heard this from so many people over the years, not just now, but whether it's pre-divorce, post-divorce, whatever, where they say, “All the good ones are gone.” It doesn't matter if I'm talking to a man or a woman, the universal lament is all the good ones are gone. What would you say to that?
Maria Spears 12:57
Oh, that's another good one. I'm glad you're asking these questions, because these are exactly the questions and the beliefs that people have that really limit them from finding love. It’s that giving up before you try. So, what I would say to that is that, number one, there are so many wonderful people out there. If you're out there, someone else like you is out there. Every day, sadly, people are breaking up and getting divorced, and especially after 50 now. There's a Gray Divorce. And people are becoming widowed as well. So, there are always wonderful people out there becoming available. For example, you're online and you saw certain people, and you're like, “Oh, there's nobody out there.” You have to continue to put yourself out there because you don't know who's becoming available suddenly.
That's true. That's a very good point. I hadn't thought of it that way. But that does seem to answer the question of where are all the good men, women, whichever gender you happen to be looking for? But I want to dig into something you just mentioned, and that is limiting beliefs. What are the limiting beliefs that people who may have just been divorced or may have been divorced for a long time, but they haven't gotten back into the dating pool? What are some of the beliefs that they might have that might be holding them back?
Maria Spears 14:26
Yeah. So, number one is I have too much baggage now. Who’s going to want me?
Karen Covy 14:30
That makes a lot of sense. Well, if somebody said that to you, like you're working with somebody, how do you turn that limiting belief around for them?
Maria Spears 14:45
Well, I help them through a process of being a kind scientist to their life, to what they've been through in their love journey, and where can we learn lessons that they can bring with them into their future relationship that will be helpful. So, that's the first thing is to point out that, yes, you've been through a lot, but who hasn't at this point in life? Everybody has their trail of experiences. But also, what you call baggage is really wisdom.
Karen Covy 15:21
Now, that's an interesting way to look at it. I like that. I'm sure you're right. Once you get to a point where you've been on the planet for several decades, instead of 16 years, everybody has baggage. The longer you live, the more you acquire. But what about the person who maybe has been in a long-term marriage and so they haven't dated in 20, 30, 40 years. I mean, what do you say to them? Because their fear of getting back into the dating pool, they feel like all they have is baggage and no experience whereas somebody who might have been dating for a longer period of time or been divorced for a longer period of time, at least the person perceives them as, “Oh, they already know what they're doing. They don't have as much baggage as me. They don't blah, blah, blah,” whatever the story is, right? How do you coach somebody like that?
Maria Spears 16:24
I heard that question just a couple of weeks ago. So, my feeling is that let's make sure that we're staying in your lane and your lane only. What other people are doing is what their path in life. You have to look at where you're at and show yourself a lot of compassion and grace. Just because you haven't had experience dating lately, doesn't mean you can't draw on your experience having relationships with other people because you already know how to communicate, you already know how to be in relationship with friends and others in your life. So, you're just transferring those skills to dating. So, you just start with what you have, and keep building. And just know that it's a building process. There's a lot of what you can figure out in terms of the dating world now is learnable. If you want to empower yourself as you're out there, you tell yourself that, ‘I go only at my own pace. Doesn't matter what someone else wants,’ especially in terms of the physical realm. You just want to make sure what you want and you don't want and as long as you're being forthright with the other person, then you kind of reduce the possibility of miscommunication and disappointment.
Karen Covy 17:48
Yeah, it all goes back to that honesty piece, about being honest right from the get go. But I want to sort of segue a little bit into more of what you do. I mean, what does a love and dating coach do? And what do you bring to the table for people that they wouldn't otherwise have?
Maria Spears 18:14
Yeah. I like that you mentioned limiting beliefs and fears a little while ago, because those are the things that are saboteurs. They show up when we're out there trying to find love again, and it's unconscious. It's our brain kind of regurgitating old tapes. It doesn't mean that they're true, doesn't mean that they're real, but they're going to be there. So, what a coach does is they help you discover what those are, and catch them as they're coming up before they can sabotage you and cause you to shut down, put walls in front of your heart so you're not open hearted to meet someone. So, you start there.
We start looking at what your past patterns have been, so that you are aware. We also look at where you want to go. What kind of relationship do you want to create in the future? And so many of us weren't even aware of what makes a healthy, happy relationship and there's so much to learn and know now.
Karen Covy 19:19
Yeah, you are 100% right. I find in a different context and even with my clients and divorcing, they can tell me what they don't want or what they don't like about their marriage. But identifying what you do want is a little bit more challenging, right? So, how do you encourage people to do that? I mean, do you teach them things like communication skills or what's available or what's possible or do they come in already knowing that?
Maria Spears 19:54
Yeah, they almost never know that and what we come out with is us really very different than what they start with, especially when it comes to their criteria and what they're looking for in a partner. So, yes, it's a process of exploration together. And I do processes with them to help them step into the future they want with that right partner and think about the life they want to have with that person. Not the life that they are going to wrap themselves around once they meet someone, but what they're going for.
Karen Covy 20:28
I think that's critical. That's key, and that makes a lot of sense. All right. So, a lot of my clients coming out of a divorce, they have kids, and maybe they’re small kids, or maybe they are adult children, but either way, mom or dad's new dating life, that's going to affect the kids. What would you say to someone, what factors should go into their deciding whether or not to date when they have kids?
Maria Spears 21:04
So, just as you said, it depends on what age group they're in. So, for example, if they're under 8 or 10, the way you might approach it is, “I'm out there meeting new friends, and my friend, Bob is going to be joining us for ice cream tonight.” You want to be able to talk about it in a different way. But that's after you have thought about what you're doing out there. And you are always thinking about the well-being of your children first, especially in these younger ages, so that whoever you're possibly introducing them to, is someone that you feel fairly certain is safe, and they're going to be comfortable with as well. So, it takes a lot of communication, no matter what age they're at, and being upfront with them. Because if they suddenly see you spending time with someone new, even if it's on one date and they're not past the divorce process themselves enough, they're going to really get scared and uncomfortable. They're going to either think that you're not going to spend as much time with them for their needs and support them. They may be thinking that you're trying to replace their dad. It's complicated. So, those are the things you pay attention to.
Whereas a teenager, a teenager is out there probably dating as well. So, you may be saying, “Hey, I am considering getting out there and dating again, meeting new people. What do you think of that?”
Karen Covy 22:55
That makes sense. So, if they're a little bit older, it sounds like it would it be wise to have a conversation with them, and give them a heads up rather than just show up with the new person.
Maria Spears 23:09
Yeah. And it also matters what relationship it is for you. If it's dating, simple dating, then you want to keep those introductions very limited and in neutral ground. Whereas if someone is with you for 9 or 12 months, and you're serious, or they're going to be your partner, that's a whole other way of integrating them into your life with the children.
Karen Covy 23:39
Right. And it sounds like what you're saying is, if you do it right from the beginning, and you introduce the new person in the right way to your kids, you're going to have less problems getting your kids to accept them and to make them part of the family later on.
Maria Spears 24:00
Yeah. And then you're still going to need to communicate with them and check in regularly.
Karen Covy 24:08
That's an important piece as well. I think too many people just assume, ‘Okay. Well, I made the introduction. We're all good now.’ Right? The ceiling didn't fall in when you made the introduction but you're wise to tell people it's a continuing process.
What about somebody who has the feeling like, ‘Well, I'm a mom. I shouldn't be dating or I'm a dad, I shouldn't be dating.’ I guess, the fundamental question is, is having children at home, even for part of the time like, is that a reason to date or not date?
Maria Spears 24:55
Well, for some people, it is. For some people, it feels that until their kids go to college, for example, that they want to put this part of their life on hold. So, it depends. If the individual feels like that's something that they want to do for their children, I really feel that if ultimately they want to meet someone, it's still okay to get out there and have a social life. It's still okay to meet different men or women and see who's out there now. Again, because you're a different person than you were in your 20s and 30s, when you initially got married.
Karen Covy 25:33
It sounds like if that was something that someone did to get out with a group of people doing, as you said, something that they enjoy, right? They're more likely to be in a position to meet somebody new in an organic way. And then one thing can lead to another and maybe that doesn't happen until their kids are gone or maybe it does, who knows? Right?
Maria Spears 25:58
Yeah. Everyone is defining relationships differently today. So, what I mean that--
Okay. Educate me here.
So, for example, I often work with women who are well into their 50s, and 60s, some in their 70s. And their definition of relationship isn't necessarily marriage again. It could be we are partners, and we're living together, or it could be we're partners, and we're living in our own places. So, same applies if you are dating and you have children still that you're thinking about. Whether they're young, high school, college, you can set your parameters and your goals for a relationship the way you need to do. So, again, being upfront with the people that you meet, so that they know what you're looking for.
Karen Covy 26:54
So, it seems like we've come full circle now and we're back to the original question of what is it that you want and knowing for yourself what are you looking for? What kind of a relationship and who even knew there were this many kinds of things to look for? I think that people would do well to work with you. I mean, this is a whole education for me. I thought a relationship is a relationship, right? Evidently, that's not true.
Maria Spears 27:26
Yes. There's, again, so much to learn. And that's one thing that a dating coach can help with. They help with your confidence. They help you with upgrading your dating and relationship skills while you're out there. But more than anything, they help you with your mindset, what your beliefs are. If you believe you're going to find someone and they're out there, and that the right person will want you and what you have to offer, then that's what's going to ultimately happen. So, just like athletes, the mind game is even more important than physical game.
Karen Covy 28:03
100%. I heard someone say once, I don't know who, it was somebody famous, who said about athletes that when you get to the elite athlete level, they all train hard. They're all in great shape. They all know the game and they have the skills. So, often, what defines which athlete is going to win and which one is going to lose is their mindset. So important.
Okay. So, I want to end by throwing you a little bit of a curveball. I didn't tell you about this in advance, sorry. But this podcast is all about decision making. We've talked about the decisions you make in dating, not dating, how to date, blah, blah, blah. I want to turn this in on you and ask you a little bit of a personal question, say, what's the best decision you've ever made?
Maria Spears 28:54
And it just so happens to be leaving a relationship where I knew we weren't right for each other.
That's a hard one. That is a super hard decision. So, first of all, thank you for sharing. And that's so beautiful and I really want people to hear it. Because people have this idea that they can't make a decision because it's hard. But yet, what you're saying is the hardest decision was also the best decision.
Maria Spears 29:25
Yeah, it was, ultimately.
Karen Covy 29:29
So, yeah. I mean, that's not to say that there isn't pain in the short term or things to work out and work through but what seems hard today can still end up being the best thing you ever did. I think that for a lot of people who are struggling with dating after divorce, or after even a major breakup, because that would count, right? People who are older in life and saying, “You know what, I don't know if I can do this anymore.” I really would encourage them to check you out, check out your website. Love and dating coaches weren't a thing when I was a teenager. But now that they are, why not take advantage of that resource? It just makes so much sense. So, Maria, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom. Can you tell people where they can find you?
Maria Spears 30:22
Thank you so much, Karen. I love talking to you about love. I appreciate that you're helping me spread more love in the world. So, the way they can reach me is to go to maria-spears, S-P-E-A-R-S,.com. And you can start there at my website.
Karen Covy 30:38
That's wonderful. Well, Maria, thank you for spending the time talking to me and to all the audience today.
If you are in the audience, if you're listening to this, whether it's a podcast, whether you're watching the video on YouTube, I encourage you like the video, subscribe to the channel, and I look forward to seeing you all next time.