Your divorce is over. It sucked. But at least it’s done. Now, you’re home on a Friday night feeling sorry for yourself, binge-watching Netflix re-runs, and trying not to over-indulge in your adult beverage of choice. When you were going through your divorce you used to wonder: “Will I ever find love again?” At this point, you don’t even ask that anymore.
In spite of your better judgment, you’ve tried using the dating apps. You’ve even connected with a few people.
The results have been underwhelming.
Sometimes your would-be date used a picture on the app that was years (okay, maybe decades!) old. Sometimes s/he was slightly less than truthful about his/her current relationship status. (i.e. s/he was actually still married!) And sometimes, your potential date just bald-faced lied about who s/he was.
Regardless of the reason, the dating apps were an epic fail.
So instead of getting arthritis in your thumbs from swiping right and left for hours, you’ve decided it’s better to just stay single and stay home.
But, before you consign yourself to flying solo for the rest of your life, consider this. As of the last census count, approximately 42 million U.S. adults had been married more than once.
Obviously, SOMEONE managed to find love the second time around.
There’s no reason why that number couldn’t include you.
… but It’s Been So Long I Don’t Even Know HOW to Date Anymore!
If you got divorced after a long-term marriage, you probably haven’t been on a date for decades.
Starting to date again may be awkward. It may feel weird. You probably won’t date the person of your dreams the very first time you go out after your divorce.
But fundamentally, dating doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to be hard.
All you have to do is follow a few basic rules.
Dating Rule #1: Be a Good Human
Yes, this rule is REALLY basic. It’s also fairly easy to follow. Here’s all you need to know.
Treat your date the way you would like your date to treat you. Period.
- Don’t date until you’re ready! If you spend the entire time with your date talking about your ex – you’re not ready to date yet!
- When you say you’ll show up, show up!
- If at all possible, show up on time! Being ten minutes late because you got stuck in traffic is okay. Being an hour late because you just couldn’t get your act together is not.
- Dress like you care. Your clothes should be neat, clean, and appropriate for wherever it is you’re going with your date.
- Respond to your date’s texts, calls, voicemails, etc. It’s not that hard. Really.
- If you don’t want to go out with your date again, TELL HIM/HER so! Ghosting your date just because you don’t have the courage to tell your date you don’t want to go out again is rude.
- Be honest! Pretending to be the person you “think” your date is looking for will never land you in an authentic fulfilling relationship. (And if your date falls in love with the person you’re pretending to be, you’ll be in an even worse situation!)
- Be kind! Yes, you need to be honest. But you don’t need to be brutal! If you don’t like your date, or you don’t agree with something s/he says or does, don’t go out with him/her again. You don’t need to give your date a dissertation on every little flaw YOU think s/he has!
Dating Rule #2: Control Your Expectations
When we expect certain things to turn out a certain way, we set ourselves up for disappointment and failure.
For example, if you expect a date to be fabulous and it turns out to be anything less than fabulous, you’re probably going to be disappointed.
What you may not realize is that your own expectations made you judge your date by a completely unrealistic standard. If you were expecting to go to a four-star restaurant for dinner, and you ended up at the local diner instead, you’re not going to be impressed – no matter how great the food and the conversation may have been!
Remember also that expectations can go both ways.
If you have negative expectations about a date, that date is much more likely to end up badly than if your expectations are positive or neutral.
We all see what we look for. If you’re looking for everything that’s bad in a situation – you’ll find it!
The bottom line is that your expectations MATTER! If you want to have a good time on a date, especially in the early stages of your dating, do your best to have NO expectations!
Don’t expect the date to be the best date you’ve ever had in your life.
Don’t expect the date to be the worth date you’ve ever had in your life.
Just go on the date. See what happens. Live in the moment.
Rule #3: Learn How to Have a Conversation
You’re never going to be able to find love again after divorce if you aren’t able to have a decent conversation with someone. If you want to form a real, positive relationship with another human being, you have to TALK to that person!
Texting is fine. Leaving voicemails is fine. Even emailing someone is fine sometimes. But if you don’t TALK to that person face-to-face, one-on-one, and preferably in full sentences, you are NEVER going to connect with that person.
Your conversation doesn’t have to be funny or witty or deep. It just has to be REAL! And it helps if it’s interesting!
How do you make a conversation interesting?
Ask your date questions! Ask your date questions about him/her. Try to learn about your date. Learn what s/he likes, what s/he does, what his/her family is like. Be interested in your date as a human being.
Don’t spend your entire time together talking about YOU! (While YOU may find that to be interesting, I promise you, your date will not.)
The simple truth is that we’re all fascinated by ourselves. We are all our favorite person. By asking your date questions about him/herself you will stimulate a conversation that will help you get to know your date better. It’s also a conversation that your date will find interesting!
… But I Don’t Know Where/How to Find a Date!
Now that you know HOW to date, the next logical question is: Where do you find a date?
The answer is: everywhere! (… except in your house/apartment when you’re all alone and refuse to go out.)
That doesn’t mean you have to go on a hunt and look everywhere for a date. Searching for a romantic partner 24/7 like a rabid dog is going to give you the energy of a psychopath. That kind of energy is NOT conducive to finding the person of your dreams.
Yet, even though you may not be “hunting” for a date all the time, it doesn’t hurt to be open and ready to meet people no matter where you are.
It’s true that in today’s world most single people looking for love use a dating app at some point. And if you’re up for it, you definitely should try it. (Why not?!) But that’s NOT the only way to meet people!
Dating apps have been around for a few decades. Human beings have been meeting, falling in love, and getting married for millennia. You don’t need a dating app to find love again after divorce!
Here are just a FEW ways you can find someone to date OTHER than by using a dating app.
Places to Find Someone to Date
- Get fixed up by a friend or family member.
- Meet someone at work (NOT your boss or someone who works FOR you!)
- Go to a party and meet someone there.
- Go to an event with friends and pay attention to the other people who are there (i.e. a charity event, an art show, a car show, a baseball game etc.).
- Participate in a sport or activity you enjoy where there might be people you’re interested in meeting. (Be smart about this, though! You’re not likely to meet a man in a knitting club, or a woman in a Tae-Box class!)
- TELL people you’re up for dating. You never know who might know someone who’s available.
- Try going to a speed dating event.
- Pay attention to other people wherever you are at. That means being open to meeting someone at the grocery store, the dry cleaners, the coffee shop etc. (That also means that you may have to level up the way you look when you go places!)
Don’t Pay Attention to the Naysayers
Contrary to what some people will tell you, not all the “good ones” are gone. Not everyone is married or in a serious relationship. Not every second marriage is going to fail.
In order to believe that, though, you’ve got to:
- Have faith; and
- Stop reading stupid statistics!
But statistics NEVER tell the whole story.
Part of the reason that third marriages have a higher failure rate than first marriages is that less people get married three times. Since the number of couples you’re counting is smaller, it takes fewer of them to make what looks like a high percentage of failed marriages.
For example, in a sample size of 10 married couples, 7 failed marriages is 70%. In a sample size of 1000 couples, 7 failed marriages is less than 1%.
What’s more, different studies often show different things.
For example the Harvard Medical School conducted a 75 year longitudinal study known as the “Grant Study.” That study found that many men who divorced in middle age went on to have happy new marriages which lasted for decades. (The study only included men.)
Tara Parker Pope, the author of For Better: The Surprising Science of How Happy Couples Can Make Your Marriage Succeed, also disputes the validity of the divorce statistics we have all come to accept as true. Parker Pope states that:
“… because so many variables in the marriage-and-divorce equation are changing, a simple calculation comparing marriages and divorces in a given year ends up distorting the result and suggesting that the divorce rate is higher than it really is.”
Your Happily Ever After
The bottom line for anyone looking for love after divorce is this: you are not a statistic! If you're dating after divorce it's just as easy for you to find true love as it is for anyone else.
The answer to the question: “Will I ever find love again?” depends on you.
Whether you make a second or a third marriage work depends on you. It depends on who you choose to marry and how you live your life.
You are not doomed to live a life of misery and loneliness just because you are divorced.
You just have to believe you will find love again. And then you have to get out there and look.