You and your spouse have split up. You took some time to yourself, and now you're ready to dip your toe back into the dating pool. Maybe you even have someone special in mind.
But you're nervous. It's been a long time since you last played the dating game, and you're worried you might have forgotten some of the rules. It's ok if you feel a little out of your depth right now. You aren't the first person to have to navigate dating after divorce, and you certainly won't be the last.
What you need is a refresher course, a few short lessons on the dos and don'ts of dating to get you back on your feet. Let's start with the don'ts:
- Don't be afraid of judgment. Are you that person who orders a salad for dinner because you're afraid of what your date will think if you order the steak? Order that steak and stop worrying about it. If a steak-eater is who you really are, that's the person your date should meet. It doesn't do either of you any good to pretend to be someone you're not.
- Don't stay glued to your smartphone. Emergency calls get a pass, but all other communication can wait. What good is a date if you spend half of it texting your friends and the other half live tweeting about the date's progress? Put the phone away or don't bother leaving home in the first place.
- Don't get lost in the past. You will be tempted to compare your date to your ex. Resist the temptation. Leave the past in the past, and focus on the exciting future that could be in front of you.
- And speaking of exes...don't make them the main topic of your dinner conversation. You're moving on, so sound like you're actually ready to do so. Nothing says "needy," "unstable," or "not over the past" like rambling on and on about your ex. There may be things that need to be said about your previous relationships, but the first date is not the time to say them. Save those conversations for later on.
- Don't rush. You may still be feeling vulnerable at this point. You may find yourself longing to be in a relationship again, and that may make you take steps you're not yet ready to take. There's no hurry. Don't enter a first date expecting anything more than an entertaining evening. The future can wait.\
And most importantly...don't be too hard on yourself. It will all fall into place if you stay focused on learning about yourself, meeting new people, and having fun.