I started dating about 2 months out of my separation. Mistake #1, I should’ve waited longer, the healing process after a divorce should last about one year, give yourself some time. But, I was like a kid in a candy shop with my new singe life AND with my marriage ending the way it did, my self-esteem needed a boost.
I met a guy who was nearly perfect. He was gorgeous, like, male model gorgeous. We shared a lot interests, plus he was a great conversationalist. I was too new to the dating game and made too many mistakes with him. I was clingy, needy and he knew that I had no business being in the dating scene. The next one was a guy who was cute, fun to talk to, but we didn’t have much in common. Then there was the guy who was more of a friend, it never materialized into anything. I tried a few dating sites, but had every guy from here to the Mississippi emailing me because they thought I was cute, so I decided to cut that off. I was pulling my hair out! I had no idea how difficult dating would be. All seemed like Mr. Right at the time, but none were what I needed, nor were they someone I could see myself spending much more than a month or two with. Does any of this sound familiar?
Through my dating mishaps, there was someone observing me. He worked with me at a retail store. He would silently watch as guys came into the store to talk to me, and then he’d tease me about being the store’s “eye candy”. This co-worker, who was married at the time, made it known to everyone in the entire store that he was extremely unhappy in his marriage. I’d think to myself, “Yea, we’ve all got our problems, buddy,” and would usually try to escape his many horror stories from his home life when he’d start in. I had nothing in common with the guy…he was crabby, not much of a family guy, not a great conversationalist, he was a work-a-holic. Overall, I just disliked the guy.
One day, he came to me and asked me to work with him on some “special projects”. While we were working together, he’d talk, and talk, and talk some more. I couldn’t run away because I was working with him on the project! After a few weeks, he told me that he needed my help; he told me that he had to divorce his wife, that he simply couldn’t go on. I empathized, gave him a hug, and then I referred him to a good attorney.
Another month went by, he’d filed for divorce, and he started becoming friendlier with me, and, he began taking a particular disliking to any man who talked to me at work. Let me just say, I got hit on A LOT at work, at least a couple times a day. I noticed that some guys were coming in to my workplace to find me, would talk to me for an hour or so, while I worked, and maybe buy a bag of nails on his way out. Back to my co-worker; often times, he’d follow me around the store talking to me, warding off talkative customers. If he noticed me talking to a guy, he would come and stand next to me with this “serious supervisor” look on his face until whoever it was would walk away. Our fellow co-workers joked that he was more or less, urinating on my leg, marking his territory, silently stating, “this girl is MINE, go away!!!” I began to wonder if I should be creeped out, or impressed by his diligence.
A few weeks later, he started asking me if I’d go on a date with him, he began asking about my kids, my house, the town where I lived, my personal life, etc. I was still sort of dating a guy with whom I had a lot in common, but after he asked me enough times (at least 20) I agreed to one date with this co-worker. He didn’t have a “model” body, we seemed to have little in common, he turned out to be a better parent than I had originally thought, but the rest is history. We are now married, our two families joined as one, and we’re living the all so typical American-Brady Bunch lifestyle.
During my 6 months of dating, I was juggling a career, served as mayor of my small town, then as council member, I was raising my two kids, taking care of my large house and delicately landscaped yard. I had so much on my plate, but I did just fine. I worked from 4am to 1pm, 5 days a week, so that I could get home and spend as much time with my kids as possible each day and get my chores done.
I protected my kids from my dating life, they only ever met one guy that I dated, and never even knew I was dating aside from that! I recommend that any divorcees with kids do the same, for your kid’s safety. I was open and honest about the fact that I had two children, and that didn’t scare any of my prospective partners away, they seemed excited to meet my little ones. Even then, I would only show my date a photo of my kids if we’d been dating for longer than a month. As I said, safety first!
So, after dating and going through the heartache of meeting Mr. Wrong(s) and Mr.
Right, and making my own mistakes, I’ve come up with “Jen’s 6 tips for dating after divorce”.
1. Know what, or rather, who you are looking for, but be open to anything. I initially made the mistake of valuing a guy’s looks above his personality. Looks don’t matter much if the guy is a jerk. If you’re a divorcee, or coming off of a bad relationship, then you probably know what you don’t want in a mate when it comes to personality. Did your ex have a substance abuse issue? Did she/he have any weird habits that you absolutely despised? Keep in mind that no one is perfect, but you can pick certain characteristics to avoid in your prospective partner. I avoided partyers like the plague and focused more on family oriented guys. It’s very important that you value intellect and kindness above all!
2. Realize that you’re not perfect! I’ve always considered myself average in the looks department, and a bit above average in intelligence. I have my quirks, and am aware of most of my annoying habits. I’m not at all conceited, but have seen many gals/guys who are. You may have had habits which your ex hated, or that anyone would dislike. Talk to a close friend or counselor who will give you an honest opinion about your issues. Look back at where or how your marriage failed and take fault where you should. No divorce is solely the product of one person’s actions; it takes two to make a marriage work or fail. Maybe you didn’t keep yourself looking as good as you should have. Or maybe you talked 100 mph and left no room for a two way conversation. Maybe you were demanding and didn’t compromise enough? I know that it took me a few months to figure out how I had failed in my marriage, and to accept my faults, as a wife. Seek out and then work on your own bad habits before you try to find someone new, that’ll help a lot. And be careful not to think too highly of yourself, you’ll leave no room for a gal/guy to discover your true beauty if you already think you’re the greatest person that God ever made.
3. Don’t bad mouth your ex to your prospective partner. This was a mistake that I made, but only once! There’s nothing worse than dating someone who’s talking all about the things they hate about their ex, and who shares their sob stories and dirty laundry about their previous marriage/relationship. I mean, who wants to hear, “my ex is the worst person ever!”? To a prospective partner, this may translate into, “I am extremely difficult to please”. Another one I hate to hear is, “He/She left me for another person”. This is a big no-no. It makes your prospective mate wonder, what you did to drive your spouse away; Bad sex life? Nagging? Did you become a slob after you slapped the ball and chain on him/her? Just don’t breach the subject of “the ex” unless your prospective mate asks you about it. Even then, don’t go into much detail. Don’t talk excessively about your ex, either. This screams, “I’m not over my him/her!!!” to a prospective mate. Or, it could mean that you’re a neurotic freak who has nothing better to do than spend your time bashing your ex! Nobody likes drama, and being a stalker is never in style, either. You should both focus on the future. He/she needs to know that you’re ready to move on and that you are over your ex. Need a way to vent about your ex? Talk to a girlfriend or a counselor, that’s why they’re there! I was angry and bad mouthed my ex, and drove “Mr. near perfect” away as a prospective partner. I got over my anger with my ex after a few months, learned my lesson and avoided the ‘ex’ subject from then on.
4. Look your best. This may seem obvious. But I know all too many people who are unhappy with their looks, their weight, their hair-do each month, treat yourself to a day at the salon, get a workout club membership and workout regularly, buy some new sexy clothes. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet the love of your life at the gym or while out at the salon! You need to keep yourself looking the best you can, not just during your dating life, but throughout your entire life. I’ve always done well with this one throughout my marriage and single life, and remarriage. With any luck, I’ll be 60 and still working out, wearing a touch of makeup, and dressing to impress.
5. Be happy. I can’t stress enough that when you’re unhappy, your face, your body, everything about you emulates your bad attitude. I have the uncanny ability of being able to read people like a book, and I’m not the only one! I can tell when a friend is down by the look on their face. If you’re not happy, figure out a way to BE happy. Focus on what makes you happy, i.e. your kids, your job, your family. Your life may suck right now, but you need to accept that you’ve gotten yourself where you are in life, and it’s up to you to get yourself to a happier place. Everyone has something to be happy about. After my divorce, I had a hard time being happy, but figured out quickly to treasure the things I was blessed with, even though I felt my life had fallen apart. I figured out that to worry less about the things that didn’t make me happy.
6. Don’t judge! As I said, you’re not perfect; no one is, so get over yourself. Get to know someone before you kick them to the curb for some silly reason. I did this a few times; I mean kicked someone to the curb for a silly reason. I was VERY picky in the dating game, probably too picky. Your prospective mate may not be exactly what you’re looking for, they may not be a super model, they may not have a high end distinguished job, they may have funny quirks, but he/she may be just what you need. Learn to value the important things in other humans…not just in your dating life.
In the end, it all worked out just as God planned for me. I fought and struggled with accepting this plan because it wasn’t MY plan. I learned a few lessons, and I hope that at least some of what I wrote above helps other divorcees.