We turned to Marina Sbrochi, a dating coach and author of Stop Looking for a Husband: Find the Love of Your Life (Brown Books, 2011), for her advice on dipping into the dating pool after divorce.
1. Take time for yourself
Before you even think about dating after a divorce you need to make sure you've taken time for yourself and had enough time to heal, says Sbrochi. "Reflect on your part in the divorce," she says. "Own those issues and fix them. Take time to be alone and figure out what you want out of life." If you don't take time for yourself, you run the risk of making rash decisions and ending up in all-too-familiar territory: a relationship that isn't working.
2. Proceed with caution
After divorce, people often have the tendency to jump right back into a serious relationship. Think about taking your time. "Settling down with someone can feel comforting, but resist the urge to jump in feet first," Sbrochi says.
"Take a bit longer than you normally would to get to know someone. Take time to enjoy the dates and the excitement of not seeing each other all the time." She adds that it takes a full year to really get to know someone. Use that time wisely. "You've been divorced. You know what that's like -- all the reason to take it slower this time around."
3. Do what you like
Many of the happiest couples have similar interests, and the best way to find someone like-minded is to do what you enjoy. "Make a list of the things you like to do and then figure out events, times and places you can participate in them," says Sbrochi. "Go in with a smile and an open mind and make some new friends. You never know who might end up becoming more than a friend."
If you like music, check out a local band or a concert nearby. If you find someone you'd like to speak with, talking about the music is an easy conversation starter. If working with your hands is more up your alley, volunteer with an organization like Habitat for Humanity. Not only will you be helping someone, you just might meet someone interesting on the job.
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4. Open your mind
At this point you probably have an idea of what you want (and what you don't want) in a partner. But don't let your list hold you back, advises Sbrochi. "Perhaps some of those things are superficial. You like blonds or athletes or perhaps only guys with hair. Do yourself a favour and drop your picky list," she says. "Replace it with a list of qualities you desire in a partner, such as kindness, humour, thoughtfulness or an outgoing personality."
The next time you meet someone who may not match your list of ideal physical characteristics, think about your list of desired qualities and give him a chance. You never know, after a few dates you might have more of a connection than you originally thought possible.
5. Tell your friends
You might feel you should keep your desire to meet someone new to yourself, but there's nothing wrong with letting your friends know that you're ready to get back into dating. "Nobody knows you better than your friends, so who better to suggest a new partner," says Sbrochi.
Instead of just devoting your newly single time to finding a new partner, use some of that time to go out with your friends more often, she adds. "Enjoy those friendships and deepen them. How lucky are you that you get a second chance at being single and having time for friends?"
6. Never settle
When you feel ready to start dating again, it can be tempting to pressure yourself to meet the perfect person right away. But finding the right match can take time; so avoid getting serious with someone you aren't sure about. "Never settle for less than you deserve," Sbrochi advises. Make sure your new partner is a good match for you and someone who makes you happy. "Remember it is always better to be alone for the right reasons than to be with someone just for the sake of being with someone."
Dating after divorce may feel overwhelming, but the process of meeting someone new can be a great experience. With an open mind, a positive attitude and patience you can make your post-divorce dating life much easier.
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