“Well,” he said, “this has been fun, I think you’d be a great friend for my older sister!” And thus ended my first date in 15 years. Awful, right? But also laugh out loud hilarious. That’s dating after divorce in a nutshell: simultaneously both entertaining and annoying. Really though, I found it was a HUGE opportunity for personal growth. Overall it really stretched me!!
Big Picture: Three things to remember when dating after divorce:
- Make sure you are in a strong, healthy mental place before you start dating after divorce. Know what you want and don’t settle!
- It won’t happen overnight, I was in the process for over six months before finding someone who was boyfriend material. Have patience!
- Don’t be afraid to try new things! This is your season to stretch and grow, whether you find a special someone or not.
Let’s dive deeper and take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly!
I am not a licensed therapist or mental health professional. If you are suffering and need treatment please seek the help of a professional. This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Player One, ready for dating after divorce?
Please stop and think about this before downloading all the dating apps. The degree of healing you need to do is personal and can vary widely. Some people are ready to jump right back in, but for me, coming out of a rough marriage, I needed to hit the brakes and get right with myself. In that vulnerable state, chances are I would have picked up a narcissist!
While you shouldn’t get stuck in fear, make sure you understand why your other relationship ended and how you contributed to it. This took a solid year for me, working hard with a therapist and on my own. You want to bring the healthiest, happiest, most whole version of yourself to the game because that is who you want to attract.
Plan of Attack!
Okay, you are ready to get out there! Let’s look over your basic choices for meeting other singles in your area:
Many churches have singles ministries, some specifically targeted to serve the divorced community. You may have to do some digging around, or look at other churches in your area to find one that fits. If you do attend services regularly, it’s nice to meet up with some friends to sit with. Sitting by yourself every week is the worst.
Visit meetup.com and search for groups in your area. Some are geared specifically for singles who share a common interest like hiking or trivia. You can also find a group based on interest and see who you can meet. Now, I don’t have first hand experience with this one because I’m such a shy introvert I never actually went. It would have been a really good growing experience though, and if you are better at joining a group and making friends, this would be awesome for you!
We’ve all seen this in the movies right? Out in the suburbs where I live, there weren’t really any of these events and I didn’t feel like driving into the city. I listen to a podcast and the host who attended one and had a good evening, so if you have the chance to attend, it sounds like something fun to try!
And, of course…*drumroll*
The dating apps (Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid, etc)
So the last time I was single (back in ‘05),dating apps weren’t really a thing. The thought of choosing dates like shopping on Amazon both intrigued and terrified me. As I mentioned, I am a pretty introverted person, so I did like the idea of getting to online messaging before having to meet someone. I LOVE texting because I can stop and think about what I want to say.
Which dating app is the right fit for you?
Well, I listed three of the most popular, but surprisingly there are over a dozen, all aimed at different audiences. You can find ones aimed at rich people, farmers, dog lovers, and on and on. Be brave, download a couple, and see what’s popular in your area.
Most of the apps have the same basic operation: You look at a profile with name, age, picture. Usually you can click or scroll for more information like political leaning, religion, kids etc. If you like what you see, swipe it right. Swipe left to send the profile to the unwanted stack. If you have both swiped right, you’ll see it as a match and can start messaging. There are usually premium options with paid subscriptions, but I find I was able to get a good handle on them for free.
This one has the reputation of being mainly for hookups, but you never know. I only peaked on here a couple times, and found many profiles without names, real pictures, and overall just lower quality. The advantage is that it’s super well known, so there were a TON of profiles to swipe through. But again, it wasn’t really what I was looking for.
I had better luck on OkCupid as far as the type of profile I was looking for. This is the only app I paid to upgrade, because then you could see who “liked” you. Basically, if you swiped on any of those guys, you knew it would be a match. Sometimes there’d be a message waiting too if they wanted to get your attention. The upgrade was a real time saver, and I chatted with several guys, but none made it to the real life date stage.
Which brings us to Bumble – my personal favorite. My therapist recommend I try it because it has a unique twist: if you match with someone as a woman seeking a man, the woman has to start the conversation (for same sex dating, either can start). What an interesting dynamic switch, don’t you think? I kinda hated it but I also found it kinda empowering. At the beginning, I crafted amazing opening questions, meaning to dazzle with my wit. But the thing about online dating is to be ready for folks to just flake on you. Sometimes they un-match with you before you even talk. Or they answer you with like one word. Many disappointing potential outcomes!
Mental Health is key when dating after divorce!
This unpredictability is one reason it’s so important to be in a good, healthy mental place before starting any of this! Now of course nobody will be in a perfect place 24/7, but when guys did shady stuff like that, I was annoyed not hurt. An old version of me would have taken it more personally. Dealing with cognitive distortions, I would have concluded it was all my fault. Instead, I was able to shake it off.
Sure, I deleted all the apps in frustration on a couple occasions because I was convinced no one was out there, but honestly that was on them not me. I also knew EXACTLY who I was looking for, and wasn’t willing to settle for just anyone. This was such a growth moment from my younger single self, yearning for approval and love.
For months, I talked to different people or met for coffee, but I knew exactly what I wanted and they were not it. There just wasn’t anyone I wanted to invest my time in because I was okay with being single. Even though I was lonely, I wasn’t desperate.
And then, it happened.
I’m still not sure how it happened, I think the Bumble fairy smiled on us. I met an amazing man who matched exactly who I was looking for! And I was who he was looking for too. Conversation was so easy, our early dates lasted hours and hours and we still haven’t stopped talking since. It’s been exactly 9 months since our first message exchange, and I have never been happier. I have to say, the ups and downs of the process have made me appreciate him even more.
Remember these 3 things when dating after divorce:
- Make sure you are in a strong, healthy mental place before you start. Know what you want and don’t settle!
- It won’t happen overnight. I was on the apps for over six months and weeded out a lot of dumpster fires. You’ll get frustrated, but overall have patience for the process.
- Don’t be afraid to try new things! This is your season to stretch and grow, whether you find a special someone or not. My self confidence grew by leaps and bounds, and that spirit of adventure spilled over into the rest of my life too.
Dating after divorce is a nerve-wracking, exciting chance for personal growth! The most important thing is to just go for it when you’re ready, and remember to have some fun! You’ve got this!