Valentine’s Day Special: 6 Tips for Dating After Divorce

February 9, 2016

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Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so I’ve prepared a post-divorce dating survival cheat sheet for you. Here are 6 tips to keep in mind while dipping your toe back in that pond.

  1. Pay attention to everything your date says.  Most dates will expose their “skeletons” by at least the third date.  If you’re falling for that new guy or gal, though, the tendency is to not hear what your date is telling you.  Don’t let this happen. If you spot a red flag – a very difficult personality, a messed-up family life, an inability to hold a job, or another scary situation, do not ignore!  Once, I went over to a date’s house (after we had a few dates and I felt safe) after dinner and noticed that he still had family pictures up in the common areas of his house.  Nice, right?  But, every image of his wife had black tape over her face!  Imagine his little kids having to look at that picture of Mommy with tape over her face every time they spent time at Daddy’s house.  It was creepy – and alarming.  Goodbye, masked man.
  2. Be yourself.  If you’re not being true to yourself, you’ll probably not be able to do a very job at “scrutinizing” your date, either.  It’s a lot of work to pretend to be someone you are not . . . even a little bit.  Your intuition will be sharpest when you are relaxed.
  3. Go with your gut.  If you think your date is jerk, or a narcissist, or a phony, or whatever else you might not like, you are probably right.  Don’t make excuses for your date’s behavior or tasteless conversational choices.  Move on. 
  4. Leave your rescuing persona at home.  If you are the type of super-empathetic person – perhaps a true caretaker by heart — who tends to rescue others in need, you do not want to date until you put your own boundaries firmly in place.  People who have been through a divorce need nurturance; not more trouble.  Know your boundaries and keep them firmly in place. 
  5. Be ready for rejection.  If you can’t deal with rejection – or even mild criticism — , stick with going out to dinner with trusted friends.  Dating takes thick skin . . . and it might take a good, long while after your divorce to have the emotional fortitude to deal with the rough-and-tumble of dating.
  6. Chemistry is Key.  Attraction is either there or not.  There was one sweet man I went to dinner with who was smart, open-minded, a good conversationalist and well-liked by friends and colleagues.  But, when it was time for a goodnight kiss, I struggled.  I actually felt grossed out!  Let’s be honest.  You can’t fake romantic attraction and, even if you tried to just to have the company of another, it would most surely end in disaster for one or both of you.  I moved on . . . and you should, too.

And don’t forget to have fun!

 

Posted by Robin Graine, JD, Virginia Supreme Court Certified Mediator

This blog and its materials have been prepared by Graine Mediation for informational purposes only and are not intended to be, are not, and should not be regarded as, legal advice.  This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.  Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.

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The How-To’s of Online Dating for the Divorced and Middle-Aged Crowd

March 4, 2014

Online dating has almost been talked to death on the internet and the media, but that doesn’t mean everyone is doing it. When you’re divorced and middle-aged, it can seem a bit more harrowing than watching all those kids in their early 20s find a fun, flirty fling with ease online. Whether you’re looking to polish your dating skills after letting them rust in your marriage or seeking the person you’d like to spend your post-divorce life with, online dating may be the best place for you.

When people get back into the dating game, whether post-breakup or divorce, it’s common to ask your friends to set you up. But why ask someone else to do what you could do better yourself? When you date online, it’s easier to find a more lasting connection based on common interests and attraction. When a friend sets you up, they may just be thinking, “Aw, they’d look cute together,” but not about what you really need out of a partner.love-online-dating

So you’re convinced and want to move forward with online dating, but where to even begin? Here’s a short primer of some how-to’s of middle-age online dating.

1. Find the right service for you

            You’ve seen the ads online and on your computer for the big ones—Match, EHarmony, OkCupid, JDate—but there are dozens of dating sites online. How do you choose?

Talk to your friends to see what sites they’ve had luck on. Do some internet research to see what each site is known for. (For example, OkCupid tends to skew younger in its demographic because it’s a free service.) Figure out how much you’re willing to pay to be on a site. Consider using niche dating sites (like VeggieDate, for vegetarians only, or ChristianMingle for Christians) depending on your tastes.

But most of all? Don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to just one. Whether you try them simultaneously, or one after the other, the key to internet dating is broadening the search rather than narrowing your options.

2. Get comfortable with dating again

            After a divorce or a bad breakup, it can be hard to just dive back into the dating pool. If you think you’re going to find your new soul mate on your first date back out, think again. You need time to readjust to the dance of courtship. If someone seems nice, pleasant, attractive, but doesn’t scream “TRUE LOVE MATERIAL,” don’t discount them—date them. First dates are supposed to be low-pressure; use that time to figure out who you are as a dater now. Trust me, it’s probably not going to be the same person as 20 years ago.

One thing to remember when online dating is that you’re all in the same boat. I’ve spoken to plenty of middle-aged people who are worried they’ll look silly by putting themselves out there again. One man I spoke to said his biggest fear was feeling awkward or having nothing to talk about. Another woman mentioned she was worried it was tantamount to marketing herself, and the idea of that felt wrong. The important thing to remember is that you’re not alone! Hell, sometimes it’s good to even speak to your date about these fears. I can guarantee you both have them, and at least it’ll be something to talk about if the silences get a bit too long.

Also, repeat to yourself: It’s just a date. These aren’t lifetime commitments or marriage proposals; it’s a coffee date, a movie, maybe dinner. At the most, it’s a few hours of your life. At the very least, you will come out of that date with some story to tell.

3. Lower your expectations

            No, it’s not as bad as it sounds. What I mean by that is when you’re scrolling through a list of potential dates, you start to feel entitled to being very picky. Ew, he’s a bit short. Oh no, she enjoys Nicholas Sparks novels. Here’s some advice: Get over it. One of the pitfalls of online dating is that we sit in judgment of someone we’ve never even met. Think back to your last long-term relationship. Weren’t there things you found out later that may have turned you off in the beginning? The difference was that you found out later. In online dating, particularly in the middle-aged bracket, people tend to put their cards on the table, figuring that the more honest they are about themselves, the more easily they’ll attract a likeminded partner.

Suspend your disbelief.  Give a person the benefit of the doubt. Try going out with a different personality type. No matter how it turns out, you’ll end up learning something about what you want and about yourself.

4. Take the pressure off

            It’s a huge step to start dating again, but sometimes it can be discouraging to go on a panoply of first dates, but never a second. Don’t be hard on yourself—this is how online dating works. It tends to be a numbers game. If you’re not out there trying, nothing will ever come of it.

People who are taking control of their life are attractive. By deciding to date again and by using online dating sites to help, you’ve grabbed your own destiny and have decided to steer. Other people around you will start to notice. You become more open to new people entering your life, so don’t be surprised if the person you end up with approaches you at a bar or a party. Dating online doesn’t always lead to a match, but it can boost your confidence to the point where someone in your life may see you in a different way. Online dating helps to take the pressure off and when you’re more relaxed and confident, people can tell. It’s a hell of an aphrodisiac!

5. Have fun!

            It’s not oral surgery. It’s not a funeral. It’s a date. All you need in order to have fun is a good, open attitude. Even if the other person is a drag, I promise there is some fun to be had—it’s just up to you to find it!

Written by Jane Baber, Mediation Assistant

This blog and its materials have been prepared by Graine Mediation for informational purposes only and are not intended to be, are not, and should not be regarded as, legal advice.  This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.  Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.


Single Parent Dilemma: When To Introduce Your Children To Your New Boyfriend/Girlfriend

January 14, 2014

So you’ve decided to start dating again . . .

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That idea, in and of itself, can make some people wild with anxiety.  Add to that the decision of when and how to introduce your children to your new love, and you have a lot on your plate to deal with.

Surprisingly, there is almost universal agreement by psychologists, social workers, and other experts who work with divorcing families, that you should not introduce your children to your new boyfriend/girlfriend until you have been in a committed long-term relationship for a minimum of 6 months to 1 year. Of course, all situations are unique, but this 6 months to 1 year standard is a good place to start.

Gary Neuman, psychotherapist, rabbi, and author of Helping Your Kids Cope with Divorce the Sandcastles’ Way, suggests waiting a year from separation from your spouse before introducing one’s children to anyone.  He feels that children need at least that much time to adjust to their new family dynamics.  That “one year” rule is pretty common, in psychology, because it allows a person who has been affected by a trauma to get through all of the major events, holidays, seasons, etc. at least once before attempting to move on to a new way of life – analogous to a period of mourning.

Parents, the experts counsel, should keep their dating life under wraps until, and if, their new relationship becomes serious.  There are a couple reasons for this. First, if your children tend to attach to everyone you date, and your introductions are made prematurely, your children may suffer loss and feel hurt when that person is no longer in the picture. Second, children are often not very friendly to people their parents are dating . . . and why would you want to expose your new friend to that sorry treatment any sooner than necessary? (If you are a parent, you know how kids can be when introduced to new people.  Need I say more?)

It is also a good idea for parents to self-assess why they feel the need to introduce their children to their new boyfriend or girlfriend.  Of what value will that introduction be to the kids?  What is the purpose of that introduction?  Will the children’s lives be enhanced by the inclusion of your new love into their lives? Are you preparing the children for your significant other to be a permanent fixture in your lives? (And, if so, that would probably take a while to decide anyway and, for most people, be well within the 6 month to 1 year framework).

Peter Sheras, clinical psychologist at the University of Virginia, and the author of I Can’t Believe You Went Through My Stuff!: How to Give Your Teens the Privacy They Crave and the Guidance They Need, advises divorced parents to look first toward the quality of the dating relationship before worrying about how or when to introduce children. “The commitment is the most important piece because, when there’s commitment, that becomes obvious to the kids.”

Know, too, that children should not be put in the position of helping you choose/approve a mate.  That type of decision-making is strictly grown-up business.  Something as serious as choosing a partner can only be done by the person who will be having the intimate relationship with the new person. Once again, it is up to the dating parent to choose a boyfriend or girlfriend that is appropriate, kind, kid-friendly and truly loves him or her.  There is a lot to be said for children’s intuition when it comes to people, but assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your new beau is usually not a good place to test your child’s EI (emotional intelligence).

Best Advice: Take things slowly and give everyone the time they need to adjust to their new family dynamics, first.  Then, once the dust has settled, take the matter of introducing your children to your significant other slowly and thoughtfully.  After all, it won’t do your children any harm to be in the dark when it comes to knowing who you spend Saturday nights with when they are with their other parent.  Usually, they could care less and it just  won’t matter to them. . . at least until it looks like your new significant other might be coming into the family in a big way.

Posted by Robin Graine, JD, Virginia Supreme Court Certified Mediator and Elizabeth Downing Revell, Mediation Assistant

This blog and its materials have been prepared by Graine Mediation for informational purposes only and are not intended to be, are not, and should not be regarded as, legal advice.  This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.  Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.

SOURCES:

http://www.divorcehelpforparents.com/dating-after-divorce.html

http://www.education.com/reference/article/parenting-divorce-introduce-new-partner/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/03/dating-with-kids-5-ground_n_1911152.html

http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/effects-single-parent-dating-children-4570.html

http://singleparents.about.com/od/datingadvice/a/introducekids.htm


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