This is a guest post by Dr. Karen Finn.
Dating after divorce can be confusing. After all, it’s probably been a while since you last dated and things have CHANGED since then.
One of the biggest changes in dating over the last 10-15 years is the number of people who use online dating services. Did you know there are even websites dedicated to letting you know who the top online dating services are? These services are a BIG business and it’s OK to use them. When my clients decide to start dating, most of them use an online dating service or two. Heck I even used one to meet my 2nd (and current) husband.
Online dating, just like any other kind of dating, is terrific IF you’re aware of these three pitfalls.
The first pitfall is lack of safety. I’ve heard stories from both men and women about some positively scary situations they found themselves in when they met a date. Here are some key things you can do to be a bit safer when you date online:
When you’re using an online dating service, be careful of your identity. Don’t use your full name on your profile that’s open to the public.
Ask the other person for their number, don’t freely give yours away. It’s OK to block your number and make your first call(s) anonymously.
For heaven’s sake, DON’T give someone you’ve never met your address to come pick you up. When you’re ready to meet someone, arrange to meet them someplace public. Park someplace where there are lots of others coming and going. It’s also a good idea to let someone know someone know where you are going to be meeting your date and have them call if they haven’t heard from you in a couple of hours.
The second pitfall is looking for a spouse instead of learning to date. One of the most common things I see people do when they’re starting to date again is to focus on finding a spouse instead of focusing on dating. There’s a big difference between the two!
When you focus on finding a spouse, going out becomes a lot more serious, a lot more intense. You might even start to worry about how many dates you go on before you decide if you want to be serious with this person. Sometimes you don’t go out with more than one person at a time because you want to make sure you give the current person the benefit of the doubt.
When you’re focused on dating, the whole thing is a bit more casual. There’s less stress and pressure to impress and more emphasis on figuring out whether or not you’re enjoying yourself. Focusing on dating is a great way to learn what you do and don’t like about others and yourself when you’re around them. This knowledge will allow you to move on when it’s right for you. One important point here is that you need to be up-front with the people you’re dating to let them know where you’re coming from and so they don’t get the wrong idea about your intentions.
The third pitfall is thinking you must respond and/or date everyone who contacts you. You have no responsibility to the people who reach out to you. You don’t have to respond to everyone and you definitely don’t have to go out with all of them either. You deserve to be picky about who you spend your time on and with. Your time and how you spend it is how you create your life, so be picky about whom you spend time with!
I want you to think of dating as cultivating friends and learning about yourself. Most people aren’t ready to get into another serious relationship right after they get divorced. They need some time to rediscover themselves and figure out what they do and don’t like about other people. That means going out with other people to have fun.
Dating is supposed to be fun and using the online services can be a great way to meet some amazing people. Just be sure to avoid the pitfalls!
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
Do some research. There really are a lot of sites out there to help you meet people to date. Each site has its own personality. Check out a few and decide which site or sites best fit you.
Be open to learning about yourself. The dating experience should be fun and put you and your date in new situations that will allow you both to learn about yourselves and each other. Successful dating requires that you be ready to learn stuff about yourself without the expectation that you or your date be perfect.
Are you ready to date? OK, this probably should have been the first step of the assignment, but I saved it to last so you’d be sure to see it. There’s no rule about when you’re ready to date, but generally you want to be through the worst of the emotional part of your divorce.
Guest post from one of our favorite divorce coaches- Karen Finn, Ph.D.
Karen Finn, Ph.D. is a divorce coach and the owner of The Functional Divorce (www.functionaldivorce.com) in Keller, Texas. She specializes in working with divorcing or recently divorced individuals who want to successfully navigate the confusion and uncertainty that usually comes with divorce. Karen helps her clients manage and work through the five facets of divorce to reduce their stress, find happiness again and rediscover the best of themselves.