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

February 9, 2016


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.


How to Exercise Your Way Through A Breakup

June 18, 2015

Going through a breakup is one of the most universal pains in this world. We have all been there, we have all dealt with it, and the good news is, we’re all still here. There’s a myriad of ways to get past the pain, but one of the most constructive is exercising. It can be a reason to get out of bed, a new motivation in life (even if that motivation is “Look as good as possible in case I see my ex again”), and one of the healthiest ways to move on.

Not only does exercise release endorphins, the “feel-good” neurotransmitters in your brain, but it can increase self-confidence and act as a form of meditation and reflection. So what kind of workout should you do? Well, it depends on where in the breakup you are.

For when you’re depressed and can’t get your mind to stop replaying it over and over:

Bicycling: Biking is not only fantastic, full-body exercise, but it demands your complete attention. You have to watch for potholes, whizzing cars, kids kicking their soccer balls into the street, and drivers opening their door into your lane at all times. This is not the time for, “Oh, if only I had said or done that…” because that distraction can get you into an accident. Your survival instincts will kick in, keep you focused on the road, and keep you from going down that destructive thought path of “What if…” Plus, biking has the added benefit of getting you fresh air and reminding you that there is a whole world out there, still revolving.

Yoga: Yoga is about being present and mindful. No matter what type of yoga you’re into, you can practice mindfulness. That can mean paying particular attention to your breath and your body’s alignment in various poses. It can also mean recognizing the derailing breakup thoughts, but letting them float past you. Unless you’re already an expert yogi, this can be a difficult thing to start. However, if you stick with it, you may find a peace and center that you were otherwise missing in this tumultuous time. This article can help you get started.

For when you’re so angry you just want to punch your ex:

Kickboxing: Literally go punch something! Many gyms offer these high-intensity classes which lets you sweat and punch and kick your aggression out, all while burning 300-600 calories per class. Don’t limit yourself to just American kickboxing classes, though. Lots of martial arts (like Muay Thai and Karate) have similar benefits of engaging cardio, discipline, and letting you work out your anger.

Running: Whether it’s on a treadmill or the sidewalk, there’s something immensely satisfying about slapping one foot down in front of the other as you run. Feeling particularly ragey? Throw in some sprints! Now is a great time to listen to some raucous and rocking tunes. Check out this list of 50 fast and empowering breakup songs for some playlist inspiration.

For when you’re starting to see the light on the other side:

Weight training: If you’ve gotten this far into your breakup, you may even be thinking about the possibility of someday dating again (yes, this will happen!). Lifting weights can help give you the confidence you’ll need to put on your perfect first date outfit–or give you the excuse to go shopping for a new one! Weight training is a great way to slim down and tone up. For women who are worried about “getting bulky,” just know that building muscle can help you burn fat all day long, whereas cardio only burns while you’re doing it. You won’t bulk up unless you specifically want to, which is why some men may want to look into their daily macros and supplements while they lift.

Group sports: Your city is probably teeming with recreational sports leagues for all different skill and interest levels. Just search “rec leagues + your city” or “intramural sports + your city” and dozens will pop up! It can be as active as flag-football or as goofy as cornhole. Leagues are great for meeting new people who already share a common interest, getting you out of the house and socializing again, all while still being active and healthy. Now, those happy hours your league sponsors probably aren’t all that healthy, but they sure are fun!

Woman walking cross country and trail in spring forest
Do none of these sound right for you? Well, good news–there are hundreds of ways to exercise the breakup blues away. Talk to friends for their recommendations, or just go for a long walk. It really is possible to heal your heart by starting with your body. The rest will follow.

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.

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

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.

What Men and Women Look for in A Long-Term Mate

November 27, 2011

It seems that, across the world and overtime, men (more than women) value physical attractiveness in a long-term mate. Women, on the other hand, tend to value good financial prospects. Neither of these preferences are wrong, but nor are they right. They simply “are” and, to prove it, good money has been spent on university studies to make sure what we already know is supported by expensive data.
Aside from these most basic desires, there are actually heartwarming similarities that both men and women rate as important characteristics in a mate.

Both men and women place a high value on “pleasing disposition” and “emotional stability”. These are characteristics that make for good mates, nurturing and attentive parents, and fine upstanding members of the community. These characteristics outlive most people’s good looks and usually stick around even if the money runs out.

So, like your mother told you: “Be nice, think before you speak, and use your manners.” As for emotional stability, that is usually the result of good genes, good parenting, and, often times, a good therapist!

Listen to your mother, too, when it comes to choosing your bride or groom or, at least find some smart person whom you can trust to help you in this most important decision (especially if you have children involved or this is your second or third marriage!). You need someone who is not blinded by the starry-eyed-fairy-dust of new love to help you balance what is really important to you in a mate.

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