Divorce is one of the most traumatic events we can ever go through in life.
When we get through the worst of it all and we find there is a little bounce in our step again, many of us find we just might be ready to think about dating again.
Of course, we are a bit on the tender side of things and don't want to get hurt again so we must start slowly and use caution in our judgment as we begin to date after divorce.
Here are some great lifesaving tips for men who are in the market again.
1. BE PSYCHOTICALLY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT LOVE.
Psychotic optimism is the perfect philosophy to have on love. It means this: "Love will come to me - it's a WHEN, not an IF. I'm in it to win it, not in it for a minute."
2. MAKE SURE YOU ARE HEALED BEFORE YOU START DATING.
By now you should have done the work on yourself that's necessary to find a healthy relationship. Do you understand what went wrong in your relationship? Are you aware of your role in the marriage's demise? And, have you made as much peace as possible with your ex and the divorce?
Dating from a place of anger doesn't usually lead to good choices. Don't skip the counseling sessions - they will help tremendously down the road.
3. CREATE A MARRIAGE MAP.
What does a new, good, happy relationship look like to you? Have you identified it? If not, beware. Human beings are usually creatures of habit. We do what is comfortable instead of what is right.
So, if you were married to a narcissist, without the knowledge of what a narcissist acts like in the beginning, you may find yourself on the same dysfunctional merry-go-round again.
Make sure your past is legitimately in the past, so you don't end up choosing the wrong kinds of people again and again for the wrong reasons.
4. START DOING THINGS THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY.
What makes you happy? Many women stare blankly at this question because they've been so busy taking care of everyone else around them that they've totally lost sight of what makes them happy. Make a list of five to 10 things that bring you joy, and start to do them again.
5. DEVELOP YOUR "DATING VILLAGE."
Dating after divorce isn't easy, and will require a great group of people surrounding you to keep you motivated and inspired! Maybe it's your buddies from work, school, your family, neighbors or kids.
If you don't have the built-in village, consider enlisting a professional, someone who can help you maintain enthusiasm and set and achieve goals. The dating village should be filled with people who support you and will bring you up, instead of bringing you down.
6. UNDERSTAND THAT CHARACTER AND COMPATIBILITY COUNT THE MOST.
Once you have a roadmap of a partner that makes you happy, give attraction and chemistry a chance to develop, even if it takes five or more dates to figure it out. After you feel the chemistry, look carefully for the "interior" traits that count, like kindness, reliability, consistency, honesty, and intelligence first.
Ask questions like: Are you compatible? Is this person willing to accept you, your complexities, maybe your children? Do you want similar things in life? Are you on the same page with regards to finances, parenting, living situations, marriage or more kids?
7. KNOW THAT YOUR FUTURE MATE WILL COME TO YOU, BUT IN A HIGHLY UNEXPECTED PACKAGE!
Don't rule out someone who is a little taller, shorter, skinner, heavier, a different color, older or younger than you "think" is your type. You should be attracted to the person, as that is so important for the long term! But be open to your idea of "the package."
8. GET ONLINE, AND DO IT THE RIGHT WAY!
You need to have excellent photos (starting with a great smiling headshot). That includes great head-to-toe shots as well as of you and only you! No kids, grandkids, pets or friends.
9. DON'T PUT ALL OF YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET.
As women, we often feel like we just want to date one person at a time. This is a big mistake for many reasons. Dating should be like a horse race - you need many horses to make it a race! The horse that's winning on the first lap might break its leg and might need to be taken out of the race.
When I say "date," I'm referring to the old-school style of dating - not sleeping together or hooking up. Have a good vetting process and keep the pipeline filled.
10. GO TO GROUPS AND EVENTS WHERE YOU CAN MEET LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE.
If you've always wanted to take up photography, find a group that welcomes new budding photographers. Joining groups is a great way to dip your toe back in the water and start making new friends - and maybe new dating connections!
11. TEXT, BUT BE IN CONTROL.
Texting is OK as a "heads-up" method of communication, like, "I'm running five minutes late." But it shouldn't take the place of all communication, and texting too much can lead to premature intimacy. If you feel that someone texts you too much, suggest that you chat by phone instead! There's no better way to get to know someone than talking and spending time together.
12. PRACTICE "SEX-CLUSIVITY."
In a new relationship, you should be "exclusive" and feel good and secure in your relationship. Sex can be great but, had too early, can cause the demise of a relationship as we are caught in a fog of oxytocin, estrogen, testosterone and dopamine.
Sure, there are a few couples that had sex early on and it turned into a happy marriage, but those are pretty few and far between. Waiting until you are exclusive is a great way to stay the happy course!
13. UNDERSTAND WHAT A GOOD DATING TRAJECTORY LOOKS LIKE.
Fast and furious usually flames out. Beware of going out five times in a week with someone you just met! One date per week within a few weeks turns into two dates per week, and then three dates per week. Within two months, you've had "the discussion" and have defined an exclusive relationship!
14. KNOW THAT YOU CANNOT FIX ANYONE!
You do not want to date a fixer-upper. The only person you can change is yourself. The only way another person will change is if he/she wants to change himself.
15. BE PATIENT.
Dating is a process. As much as you'd like it to be super efficient and speedy, it's usually not, nor should it be. There will be ups and downs, weeks where you have many dates, and weeks where you have none. Keep going no matter what. Patience, perseverance and positivity are crucial.