24 Essential Rules for Dating After Divorce

How to start dating after divorce

Dating can seem overwhelming coming out of divorce.

Perhaps it’s been eons since you last swam in the dating pool – have you forgotten how?

Here are some things to keep in mind as you get your dating groove back.

Stock up some cute date-night outfits (flattering and flirty, but not too revealing) …. You’ve got this!

24 Dating Tips

Dating Tip #1: Reflect on went wrong the first time.

Tip 1

How did you choose the wrong partner to walk down the aisle with the first (or second) time around?

Take note on the qualities about your ex that you liked, and note their qualities that you absolutely could never live with again, and drove you to near madness.

What about them brought out the best, and the worst, in you?

Maybe what’s really truly important to you now is different, and maybe your wants and needs in a partner have changed. Surely, you’ve evolved- hopefully, your divorce has taught you a thing or two.

Seek out the assistance of a good therapist to help you sort it all out. Otherwise, you’re at risk of repeating the same mistakes and/or choosing wrong, yet again.

Dating Tip #2: Let go of your Anger

The anger you carry around from your divorce is just a burden, a useless weight on your heart. It’s heavy and lurking, threatening to damage future relationships.

Hating your ex-spouse is almost addictive, it can become engrained, slowly poisoning your mind and body. The body can’t discern the difference between past or present hurt, so it simply hurts. It perceives anger as a stressor that is STILL happening.

The best, but most difficult way to release anger towards your ex is to forgive.

Whenever you feel that anger creeping back- stop, recognize it as useless, breathe it away, focus on the present, pray for your ex’s soul, and pray you can find some genuine forgiveness.

Jesus said it best: ‘Forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ Forgive, not for them, but for YOU.

5 Powerful Mantras for Letting Go of Anger Toward Your Ex-Husband

Dating Tip #3: Take it slow

Give yourself ample time to heal, reflect, and grow. Take a breather, and be on your own two feet for a bit. Get to know yourself again. Who are you now!?

Don’t rebound into a new relationship (whether it be emotional or sexual) right away. A new relationship may make you feel better at first, but be aware it could just be a crutch- an easy way of avoiding the plethora of feelings swirling around your psyche whenever you are alone.

The new lover could be ‘drug-like’, an escape from yourself, and almost feel like an addiction- not a healthy one.

Don’t be desperate, it isn’t an attractive quality anyhow. Dating too eagerly early-on can lead to ‘settling’ and possibly another failed relationship.

Dating Tip #4: Don’t write-off the opposite sex entirely

Tip 4

Just because you may have been married to real a P.O.S, doesn’t mean all men, or women, are like them.

There are good ones out there, just as there are bad ones. Often, you’ll have to ‘kiss a lot of frogs’ to find the good ones.

Conversely, it takes two to tango, some of what went wrong in your marriage was your own fault, and you need to own it.

Dating Tip #5: Don’t go buck wild either

After a divorce, you may feel like a pent-up prisoner who has just been freed and is ready to rage.

But keep your priorities in order and don’t go too fast out of the gates, especially if you still have young children at home.

Multiple partners can equal multiple headaches.

Dating Tip #6: Partake in your favorite social hobbies, and find some new ones too

In the age of the internet, good ol’ fashion ways of meeting people in real-time has gone by the wayside.

But getting back out there, in-person, instead of sitting alone shopping for potential dates online, is a great way to have fun, experience new things, and meet new people with similar interests.

Frequent the local dog park if you’re into dogs, hit the golf course if you like golf, surf, hike, kiteboard- if that’s your thing. Perhaps join the historical society. Perform in a community play. Take ballroom dancing lessons if you feel daring.

Be social and get out there!

Dating Tip #7: Have fun with friends

Friends of friends can make the best date material. Don’t be shy and ask around. Ask your friends if they know anyone on the market who would be good for you.

Also, plan fun outings and have them be your wing-women or wing-men. Sometimes it’s easier for a friend to approach someone you’re eyeing from across the room. Use your friends as ice-breakers and as a source of confidence when you’re out on the town.

Dating Tip #8: Try online dating

Tip 8

Online Dating may be a great way to dip your toes in the dating pool again.

From the very comfort of your own couch, you can peruse hundreds of dating profiles in one chardonnay-filled evening.

It can be downright fun- shopping profiles like a Nordstrom’s sale- so much to choose from in every shape, color, and size!

It may make you excited to start dating again! And talking online to potentials may help you get your groove back. Get your flirt on! You still got it 🙂

You may even meet some great people.  Some online flirtations will materialize into real-life, in the flesh, dates.

My #1 recommendation is eHarmony. Consistently rated as the most trusted dating site, it’s designed specifically for those looking for meaningful connections. eHarmony boasts more long-term relationships than any other dating site. With an  A+ rating from the BBB, it’s even backed by a 3-months free guarantee.

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Dating Tip #9: Beware online dating Scammers, Liars, & Losers (oh my!)

I guess this goes without saying, but there are a lot of shady characters out there, and the world-wide web is an excellent platform for criminals, cheaters, and evil scammers. You can check out our article on Romance Scams and the Dark Side of Dating After Divorce for details.

The same weariness that applies to any online activity applies to online dating. Keep your guard up, trust your gut, don’t divulge too much personal information (or bank account info duh), and don’t meet online strangers in private settings.

Less sinister than the criminals out for your cash, are the on-liners that are simply too good to be true. Beware of married cheaters, players, and catfish (not the real person).

Some have zero intention to ever date you in the real world, and may just seek on-line attention, and naked selfies from you.

Conversely, ladies- prepare yourselves, you might receive some unwarranted dick-pics (a picture of a dude’s, usually erect, unit sent straight to your inbox)….unfortunately that’s a thing now.

Dating Tip #10: Never complain about your ex on dates- Buzz Kill Alert

Nobody wants to hear it, or too much of it, especially on a first date- totally kills the vibe.

Stick to conversations about what’s important to you, let them learn about YOU, not about your ex. And don’t forget to laugh.

Of course, always lend an ear, listen and learn about your date too.

Beware someone who obsessively talks about- and blames everything on- their ex.

Dating Tip #11: Be honest and open

As time goes on you should share those clandestine uglies about your last relationship- especially share what you learned from it, and how you’ve grown.

Once you’ve established some trust and a deeper connection it’s important to be realistic and honest with anyone you move forward with.

You need someone to like you for you, and for them to accept your past, and vice versa.

Dating Tip # 12: Go on out-of-the-box dates

Tip 12

Interview-like dinner dates can be great, but may feel too intense for some.

It’s okay to suggest more creative dates. And maybe even talk on the phone (how old fashion) before you even do so.

Some examples include: Coffee/tea, frozen yogurt, a city-hike (non-secluded and heavily populated if in the early phase), a dog walk, happy hour, yoga in the park, Shakespeare in the park, walk in the park, etc.

As you continue to date someone, make each date different, that way you get the chance to see them in different settings and observe how they react in different scenarios. Some outings could even be group dates too- friends can be great judges of character and offer a second opinion.

Dating Tip #13: Trust your gut

If you have a bad feeling about someone, trust your instincts. Never ignore red-flags or brush off intuitive uneasiness.

Dating is like trying on shoes, don’t make the wrong ones work, there are many more choices out there that will fit better. Don’t be afraid to cut a date loose if you’re sensing something is off.

Dating Tip #14: Try dating outside your norm (like trying on new hats)

Type-shmype. Maybe only dating your ‘type’ is what got you into hot water in the first place.

When you ‘type cast”, you’re potentially missing out on some of the good ones because they don’t fit your overly critical mold, or don’t meet your laundry list of requirements.

Dating Tip #15: Pick three characteristics you want in a partner, and stick to them

The characteristics on your list should not be physically inclined, but character-oriented. Things like cute, tall, good hair, great dancer, light eyes should NOT be on the list.

Examples of characteristics that could be on your list: sense of humor, kindness, affectionate, open, honest, accountable, mature, calm-demeanor, a good listener, empathetic, values your same religion, shares interests, appreciates family… what’s most important to you!?

I had ‘smart’ on my list, but let me tell you, my ex was extremely brilliant, but also evil. He used his smarts to manipulate and lie. So be careful with ‘smart’, make sure their brain is wired to use their smarts for good.

Dating Tip #16: Keep your sense of humor, and seek someone with a good one

Tip 16

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is that your partner has a sense of humor, and one that is compatible with yours.

My ex used to laugh at things I found uncomfortable (like raunchy sex jokes), and in turn, I’d have to explain to him why I thought something was funny. He usually thought I was laughing at him, not with him, and often met my laughter with defensiveness and anger.

The discrepancy in our humor was also reflective of our communication styles- that was way off too.  Communication and sense of humor go hand-in-hand like peanut and jelly.

Couples who are playful and teasing can defuse potentially volatile exchanges with humor. Plus, it is one of life’s greatest joys to be able to laugh with the people we love.

A sense of humor can be a lifesaver! The ability to laugh at one’s self, and at life’s peculiarities, makes life much easier…and funnier!

You can always use your bad date stories as funny material for your comedy shtick when laughing about it later with friends.

Dating Tip #17: Be a bit more patient with chemistry

Of course, attraction and chemistry are important, but keep in mind that some sparks don’t fly until the 3rd or 4th date, or even longer.

So, don’t completely write-off a promising potential candidate who possesses your top-three qualities just because you don’t want to jump their bones on the first date.

Sometimes it takes a bit of time to get to know someone before you feel attracted to them. It is said that these even make the best relationships because it isn’t solely based on physical attraction.

Two things to realize about chemistry: 1) it’s temporary and 2) it can be down-right dangerous.

Chemistry wears off and it’s distracting.  Usually, it lasts from one to three years before it wanes. And when does, this is when you’re finally seeing your partner clearly, sometimes for the first time.

When you’re ‘under the influence’ of intense chemistry, your hormones are acting like drugs (can’t eat, can’t sleep, obsessive longing…sound familiar!?).  But because of the potency of these feelings, you may completely end up overlooking your partner’s bad qualities.

Chemistry allows us to sweep the asshole characteristics under the rug.  This is why you must put compatibility on the same pedestal as chemistry, even a bit higher.

Dating Tip #18: Don’t entirely disregard chemistry either

If there’s zero chemistry — that won’t cut it either. You shouldn’t fool yourself into believing that a suitor is attractive because they’re nice, or need to get drunk to get intimate.

You must have some spark to start — and that spark usually grows over time. Think of all the arranged marriages out there- where couples say the chemistry developed as the love evolved (for the record I’m not advocating arranged marriage).

Don’t view chemistry as black or white- where someone is either your divine soul mate or a total turnoff. Perhaps your expectations of chemistry are way off the mark.

You need to have chemistry AND need to sincerely enjoy being together. You need to feel like you can let your guard down around them, and be your highest and best self.

If you’re merely tolerating them, rather than enjoying them, you’re wasting both their time and yours.

It’s far better to be single than to be in a dissatisfying relationship.

Case in point: My mother was previously married to a perfectly handsome, kind, generous, stand-up guy that she wasn’t attracted to, didn’t really respect, and didn’t laugh with. She married him because he was a good person. The marriage lasted a few short months.

Then she married my father – he’s awkward and quite strange, but in an amusing way- they’ve been married 40 years.  Chemistry is quite mysterious!

I’ve said it before…but when it comes to chemistry, eHarmony has cracked the code.

Dating Tip #19: Set reasonable expectations

That burning, consuming chemistry is closer to obsession and fantasy. Reality is when the passion fades and you start building a life together.

A good amount of personal and physical chemistry, a realistic view on the person’s strengths and weaknesses, and even though perhaps you’ve been more fiercely attracted to other people before, you’ve never had a better relationship- that’s the stuff you’re looking for!

Dating Tip #20: Don’t Introduce your kids to your new person too soon

Tip 20

Experts say you should know a person at least 6 months before an introduction to your family.

Be sure you want this dude or gal in your life for the long haul, and make sure they want you to stick around too.

Introducing someone too hastily can be confusing and stressful for children.

Furthermore, you don’t want your kids to witness a revolving door of dates; How could they ever take anyone seriously!? They could feel like you’re putting all these ‘random dude/gals’ before them.

If you’re going to introduce your kids to someone, that someone better be pretty darn special, and it in to win it!

Dating Tip #21: Sloooowly involve kids

When you are very, very, very sure about your new person, and when it comes time to involve them with your kids- start slow.

Don’t all of a sudden include your new partner in everything, but gradually let them trickle into your family activity.

The best way to incorporate your kids is by starting with ‘dates’ your kids will enjoy. Pick activities your kids are into. Your kid probably won’t like accompanying you and your person to the opera, but would have a good time at a ballgame, playing mini-golf, seeing a movie, getting ice-cream…something light and fun.

My son always found it to be a huge treat when my (serious) boyfriend would come over to throw a ball around with him, something I couldn’t do (I’m terrible at sports). Now, five years later, they are best of friends.

But don’t expect it go so swell with all of your children. There are no guarantees.

Even though my wonderful boyfriend put in every effort imaginable, my daughter rejected him from day one and still does (its complicated, she’s a daddy’s girl and is still healing from the divorce).

Always keep a clear line of communication open with your children. Assure them that they will always come first. Explain that your new partner could never replace their mom or dad, and would never try. But that they can enhance their lives at the pace and comfort level that works for them.

Talk to your kids about their feelings. Let them ask questions, express their worries, and be honest with them.

Dating Tip #22: Date for at least two and half years before considering remarriage

This is how long it takes to truly do your due diligence. If I had known my ex for that long before marrying him, I NEVER would have married him.

A person unfolds as time goes on. By the end of two years you will have gotten the chance to have ‘seen it all’ …or most.

How do they react to less than positive life experiences and happenings? How do they fight and resolve conflicts? How do they treat other people? How are they with your children? What about their trustworthiness, reliability, and honesty? Do they follow thru on their commitments?

After two solid years together (not including long-distance)- you’ll be able to make an educated, informed decision on whether or not this person is right for you.

Dating Tip #23: Be willing to do the work

You can’t half-ass it and expect your relationship to just ‘work’ on cruise control.

Even when you choose a better, more compatible mate- no relationship is perfect and there is always room for improvement.

Keep the wheels on your relationship greased and in proper working condition.  This requires a lot of self-awareness and genuine effort.

Dating Tip #24: Never neglect your first love – YOU!

Tip 24

Self-care doesn’t mean you have to jog!

But you do need to keep mind, body, and spirit all well-nourished and cared for.  How you do so is totally up to you (although I highly advise meditation because it connects all three).

Heal, and love yourself- only then can you attract healthy people.

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Looking for more great tips to help you move on after divorce? Check out a few of our favorite guides and resources:

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