How to Get Back into the Dating Game

How to Get Back into the Dating Game

Three cheers for Dawn French who talked about her plans to start dating again after 25 years of marriage to comedian Lenny Henry. She'd be forgiven if she hid away for a time. But not Dawn, 52, she's looking forward to having a good time as a single.

Many divorced people pass through my office and while keen to move on they haven't a clue how to. I completely empathise, remembering how daunting it felt to date after my divorce.

Here are five pre-dating considerations to think through before heading out as a single:

1/ Timing’s important –

Some newly-singles feel terrible pressure to get out and date asap. They fear being left on their own forever. But it's crucial to get the timing right in terms of your emotional recovery post-divorce. A good rule of thumb is when you find you have more good moments in a day - compared to bad moments - you're probably ready to get out there.

2/ Beware of common post-divorce feelings –

It's no good looking for dating - and more - if you're feeling bad about yourself post-divorce. Divorce can make you feel a failure when you're not. But allowing it to hang over you like a dark cloud might stop you believing you can make a success of relationships in future.

Challenge such negative feelings and accept everyone makes mistakes. Reassure yourself you tried your best, and that you’re a person worthy of love.

3/ Never rush introductions –

If you have a child, as Dawn does, don’t rush introducing them to every person you date. Starting a revolving-door policy where you bring home the "date-of-the-week" isn't emotionally healthy. Begin dating accepting that even if you really like someone after a few dates, you'll set your boundaries on bringing them home when children are concerned. This applies equally to introducing them to grown-up children, who will if anything be more critical if you rush things.

4/ Recognise longings to recreate your old life –

No two people or relationships are the same yet many are desperate to recreate what they lost particularly if they didn't want to divorce. Never start dating hoping to recreate the old life you shared with your ex-partner. This'll create many hurdles to future happiness. Instead recognise that successful dating depends on enjoying the new people you meet for who they are. Plus that you and someone new will share something different - and that's a ‘positive’.

5/ Beware of powerful rebound feelings -

You may be surprised by the strength of feelings you develop quickly for someone new. You might think you've found "the one" - and that takes over rational thinking. Always be aware that rebound romances can crash and burn - some 90% of first relationships post-divorce don't last. Don't be swept away and make decisions you regret later on.

Having considered those points here are 10 top dating tips:

Be yourself - but be your best possible self:

You shouldn't pretend to be outgoing if you're quiet, or even that you're up-to-date with the latest technology if you can't work an iPod. But you can put your best foot forward, go out with a smile and wearing something you feel confident in.

Look for fun and friendship first -

Get clued-up the way Dawn has saying she's looking for fun, not necessarily another marriage. It's always best to go on a date expecting fun/friendship. Go out expecting true love and you'll actually look a bit desperate.

Get the daily habit -

Definitely make it a daily habit to think about all the wonderful, positive attributes you have to offer someone else. Write them on post-it notes placing where you can see them everyday stop

Check out the options -

There are many dating agencies, websites and events. Shop around before signing up for one. Choose one suited to your needs, e.g., there are plenty of "saga generation" dating events as well as special groups catering for specific hobbies, etc.

Get the message out –

Let friends/colleagues know you're ready to date and be ready to say Yes to opportunities like blind dates. I met my second husband through a blind date so never think they’re only for desperate people.

You're not the only nervous one -

Those you meet may also feel nervous. Sometimes they're better at covering it up. Smooth things along by asking questions about their life and interests, putting you both at ease.

Worry not

Worrying about, say, whether to send a thank you e-mail one hour or a day after a date isn't necessary. Let your instincts guide you.

Maintain your expectations

Some aspects of dating will have changed from when you last dated. But one thing's the same, expect to be treated how you treat others. If something doesn't feel right to you then it's probably not!

Play safe –

With new innovations, particularly dating websites safety considerations are important. Be careful giving out personal details, always meet in a public place, letting a friend know who you’re meeting.

Everyone deserves love -

Finally, remember dating isn't only a young person's game with high numbers of singles from all age groups. Don't let feelings that you're "past it" hold you back.

A similar article was published in the Express newspaper

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