Diving into the dating fray after surviving the end of a long relationship is like standing on one foot on an ice floe that is melting faster than the ice in your diet coke on a 90-degree day. You know you’re about to take the plunge, but you’d rather stand on something a bit more solid. Getting back into the mix requires some thinking and a helping hand to pull you off the melting patch of ice and on to firmer ground. Dating hasn’t changed all that much in the last twenty years. Remember the words of your mother? Be yourself, wear clean underwear in case of an accident, and keep mad money readily available. Well things have changed a bit, but one out of three isn’t too bad. Let’s explore just how to venture back out into the world of dating.
Divorce is a life-altering experience much like the death of a loved one. You have lost something. You’ve lost the way of life you came to know over the years. The security of knowing you’re not alone, whether it’s physically, financially, or emotionally walked out of your life in the same way that an old pair of well worn shoes leaves your closet. The importance of grieving the loss cannot be stated enough. Spend some time mourning, licking your wounds, and searching your soul to answer the what, where, how, who, and why of life. You won’t actually answer all the questions, but you’ll come out on the other side knowing yourself better in a new way. During this time make friends and family a circle of support for you. You may find that your old friends, not anxious to choose sides, fall to the wayside. Make new ones and these friends will understand the new you. Live the single life for six months to a year before journeying toward the dating path.
You’ve spent a year of celibacy cloistered in your personal life. You’ll know when you’re ready by the prickling of your thumbs or the restless feelings that if you don’t get out and meet some new people of the opposite sex you’ll go quite mad. You know you won’t meet a soul sitting on the sofa watching yet another bad sitcom, so make a date with yourself to go where people go. Try browsing at a bookstore, stop for a drink after work at the favorite watering hole where the older crowd is known to hover about, join a chess club, a garden club, a running club, or a gym. The point is to get out there. You’ll meet someone for certain.
There you were sipping chai tea as a spring breeze sauntered across the parking lot when a friend finds you swirling the liquid in your mug absent-mindedly. Lucky you! She has the perfect guy for you. The one that just relocated to the area and just happens to be her new colleague. She hints that he is looking to find someone to show him around town. She asks if she can mention you to him and give him your phone number. You acquiesce while fingering the pages of the book you’ve been skimming. Fast-forward a few days and the phone rings; it’s the new colleague of your friend. After a complimentary chat giving the basics of each other, you set up a date. The cordless doesn’t hit the cradle before panic rushes in. Never fear, just follow these steps and you’ll back in the race with new shoes, a new ‘do and a new attitude.
Mom was right about this one, just be yourself. You may be nervous, but don’t let nerves rule the day. Remember, he’s nervous, too. Act natural, don’t try to be something you’re not, just be you. That’s the best thing of all, anyway. So, take a deep breath, smile and let the chips fall where they may.
Be a good listener. Instead of thinking about what you’re going to say as he tells you about the move to a new town, really listen to him. Give him your undivided attention and be sincerely interested in learning about him. You’ll get your chance to flaunt your stuff by allowing him the same courtesies you expect.
This is the time to remember you’re meeting a virtual stranger and that nerves are served up all around. Let the time you spend with your date progress at an easy and natural pace. Don’t project all the bad traits of your ex on to the person you just met. A barrage of questions regarding his employment, his lifestyle, what kind of car he drives may lead to wondering if you’re only interested in his financial life. Go in with no expectations of anything more than what it is; a chance to get to know one another.
LIVE IN THE MOMENT
Living in the moment may sound trite and overused, but it’s the best way to put what dating is into perspective. If you’re too busy worrying about if there’ll be another date or what he’s thinking or what you’re not thinking you’re missing out. You’re missing out on great conversation or perhaps just mediocre dialogue. You’re missing out on possibilities of discovering that you both love gardens, baseball, or sitting on a porch swing idling on a Sunday. While you’re together stop fretting about what may or may not be. Just let it play out while you enjoy the present. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Make sure that during this initial meeting you’re not making plans for another day, but that you’re living in the here and now.
Finding love again after the break up of a long relationship isn’t easy. The most worthwhile things in life take time and patience to cultivate. Be yourself, listen, relax, and live in the moment are intertwined to make a whole. When you bring all these ideas together in one single meeting you give yourself the best chance of not just meeting someone, but to get to know who they are. You’re also allowing them to know you. You may find the love of your life or you may find a friend, either way, you’ve won. Finding love requires getting out into the mix, just make sure you’re ready, willing and able to put your best food forward. Love doesn’t just conqueror all, love IS all.