Divorce is considered one of the most difficult life events that you can go through, so of course it will take time before you feel ready to date again. Don’t rush this process, but allow yourself to deal with the emotional fallout – confiding in a friend, parent or counsellor can really help.
People change as they go through life, and in many ways you are not the same person you were at the start of your last relationship. Now is a good time to reassess what you want from a partner, whether that means friendship, casual fun or a committed long-term relationship. Whether you are traditional or liberal, the good news is that people are more open-minded about relationships today than ever before, meaning you are certain to meet like-minded people as you begin to date again.
Marriages end for a number of reasons. Some couples simply grow apart, and arrive at divorce without any major ‘trigger’. If this is the case with you, don’t agonise over what happened. However, if the relationship ended for clear reasons, think about how you both behaved and what you can learn from the experience, and take these lessons forward as you begin to date again. Think of this as a fresh start – a chance to reinvent your dating self.
A new look
After a major life event such as divorce, some people find it empowering to update their appearance. That might mean cutting long hair into the short, chic style you always wanted (but never dared to do); shaving off the beard you’ve had since your twenties; swapping your glasses for contact lenses; finally joining the gym… This change can symbolise a fresh start and give you the confidence to start dating again.
Get out there
Whilst American films have taught us that dating means approaching attractive strangers in bars, in real life this approach can be very daunting – and rarely works as well as it does on the big screen! Instead, join a club or group where you are more likely to meet people with similar interests. Always wanted to learn how to cook? Join a cookery class and chat to the other members as you slice, season and sauté your way to culinary brilliance. Love Strictly? Don’t just watch from your sofa, but get yourself to a dancing class – a perfect opportunity to get up-close and personal as you salsa with strangers. See that stack of well-thumbed novels by your bed? Join a reading group and discuss Pride and Prejudice with fellow bookworms. Wherever you go, don’t bring any raised expectations – joining a club might not lead to a relationship, but at the very least it will provide you with entertainment, company and interesting new skills. And if you do meet somebody (or already know somebody) you’d like to date – ask them!
According to online dating website match.com, 1 in 5 marriages start on the Internet. This may be because online dating gives people the chance to ‘try before you buy’, as you are able to quickly and easily filter your search by categories such as age, faith, marriage history and profession. There are dedicated dating websites for people who have been through divorce or for single parents, and even niche websites such as uniformdating.com (for singles with a penchant for uniforms!), proving that it’s true what they say about the Internet: if you can think of it, it’s out there.
Writing your dating profile
Be honest (but don’t overshare!). Be positive, highlighting the experiences and achievements that you’re most proud of. Mention some of the qualities you are looking for in a partner and some of the things you might like to do together, for example going to restaurants, hiking or going to the cinema. Include a recent photograph, the more natural the better. You probably don’t need to take a specific photo, as these can sometimes look forced; instead, ask friends or family to help you choose from existing photos where you look happy and relaxed, or are doing something you enjoy. No ‘artistic’ angles, no ‘deep and interesting’ pouts – just a warm, natural smile.
Detox your Facebook profile
Most of us have been on Facebook for years, and the Timeline feature means that it is now possible for users to scroll back to the very start of their communications. If there are any skeletons in your Facebook closet (e.g. couples photographs, embarrassing status updates), delete these or change the settings to private, so that only you can view them. There’s a good chance your date will visit your Facebook page sooner rather than later – so make sure it’s clean!
Most of all, enjoy this new chapter of your life, secure in the knowledge that the right person is out there. It probably won’t happen overnight, but by putting yourself out there you are one step closer to finding what you’re looking for. Good luck!