Dating after divorce can be an obstacle for the midlife woman.
Perhaps even thornier than pondering what to wear on a date where to go who pays not to mention how you even find people to date in this new world of Internet match-ups is getting over your reluctance to take a stab at it.
Why is it so hard?
“A divorced woman may feel very vulnerable at this stage, in part because she used to have a spouse to ‘protect’ her and now she has to go out into the world on her own.
1 Figure out if you’re ready.
Whether it’s been one year or six since the divorce decree, you may never know with absolute clarity that you’re ready for another relationship. Instead, “it’s usually clear when you’re not ready,” says Susan Pease Gadoua, a therapist and author of Stronger Day by Day: Reflections for Healing and Rebuilding After Divorce. That is, when the very idea turns you off. But once the idea of going on a date comes into your mind and you don’t want to chase it out again, you’re at least ready to start, she says. If it’s truly awful, you can take a step back and wait some more.
2). Feel the fear — and do it anyway.
Contemplating the dating scene, many divorced women feel not just garden-variety nerves, but “actual terror,” says Dr. Kirschner. Just remember that your fears are normal — after all, you’re dealing with or have dealt with a major betrayal and upheaval — and that you don’t have to jump all the way in. “Dip a toe in at a time. Tell a few trusted friends that you’re interested in meeting people. Accept invitations to parties.”
3). Avoid negative thinking.
While it’s not unheard of for a woman wounded by a painful divorce to make statements like “all men are jerks” or “all the good ones are taken,” that’s obviously not a good mindset to have going into dating, says Dr. Kirschner. “That kind of thinking can tank your mood — and cause you to limit your chances of getting out there and finding love.” By forcing yourself to keep your negative thoughts in check, you’ll soon be in the habit of thinking optimistically, which will in turn make you more ready to date again.
4). Know there’s nothing wrong with you.
A divorcée may also feel that there’s something “wrong” with her since her marriage fell apart, says Dr. Kirschner. If that’s the case, start training yourself now to recognize self-sabotaging thoughts, and when self-doubts start to pop up, “visualize a giant red stop sign, or a voice yelling, ‘Stop!’” says Dr. Kirschner.
5). Determine your dating intention.
You’ve decided to start dating — isn’t that your “intention” right there? Not completely, says Dr. Kirschner. “Sit down and craft a statement of what, exactly, you’re after. Is it a partner in life? A short-term liaison that might lead to something? Just some fun for now? The idea is that you should consciously decide how you want to proceed,” which will in turn inform how you go about meeting people.