While any kind of dating can be tricky to navigate as you deal with your emotions, the other emotions of someone else and, often, societal norms and pressure, dating after divorce or a post-breakup of a long relationship is a whole other playing field. You’ve hit the home run, marriage (bear with me on this metaphor), thought you won the game, but now you’re back again on the bench.
It can be overwhelming, and often confusing, to say the least. So, we asked Anna Swoboda — a dating expert at Detox Your Divorce, an Australian holistic retreat for women going through or contemplating divorce or separation — for some tips. Ahead, she shares on how to get back out there and hopefully, find love once again (if that’s what you’re after).
Be Emotionally Ready to Date
First thing’s first, Swoboda suggests you ensure you’re fully over your ex, so you don’t waste your time dating. Once you’ve done that, it’s best to invest in self-awareness.
“As Socrates himself said many years ago, ‘know thyself’,” she says. “Self-aware people are more satisfied in life and relationships. They have higher self-scores — 90 vs 39.”
Wondering what exactly self-awareness is? Swoboda describes it as having an accurate perception of yourself, what makes you happy and unhappy, as well as an understanding of what went wrong in your previous relationships, and what you need to change in yourself to make things better.
She also suggests you make a list of your requirements in a relationship and use it as a filter to save time and disappointment. “Remember compatibility is the most important factor in relationship happiness,” she says.
Be Extra Careful Dating, If You Have Kids
If you have kids, you’ll want to be extra careful with dating post-divorce, as you don’t just have your and your new partner’s emotions in the mix — you have the kids’, too. On the what-you-tell-your-new-prospective-partner front, Swoboda says to be open about your kid/s, but not too open.
“Let your date know you have kids but skip the details about how fabulous they are, your childcare arrangements and your ex,” she says. “Never ever talk about your ex or wax lyrical about your kids on the first date. That can come later.”
In terms of how you handle the situation with your kids, Swoboda says to avoid inviting very new prospective partners — total strangers, essentially — home.
“Remember love at first sight is usually lust at first sight,” she says. “Most relationship experts advise not to introduce someone to your kids until your new partner is very committed to you.”
Consider Dating Apps
Next is how you’ll meet said prospective partners — one way being on dating apps. If that’s what you choose, Swoboda says to be sure to make your profile stand out among the mix and accurately show who you are.
“Create a list of what’s important to you, what you enjoy and value in a relationship,” she suggests. “Who do you want to attract? Build your profile around that.”
“Put real thought into your tagline. Be real, quirky, fun. Men and women rate humour very highly in partner selection. The key is to create a very strong filter based on your requirements for compatibility.”
Consider Meeting Someone in Your Everyday Life
If dating apps aren’t for you, consider meeting someone IRL. As popular as online dating is, one study showed that 70% of people surveyed said post-divorce, they met their new partner through activities.
“There’s a phenomenon called the proximity effect, which means we develop more feelings for people as we get to know them,” says Swoboda. “Yes, chemistry grows. So, keep an eye out at the school drop-off line and your local coffee shop.”
Other than keeping your eye out, another way to increase your chances of meeting someone in your everyday life is to change some old habits. “Changing just one habit statistically doubles your chances of meeting your next love,” says Swoboda. “Stop at a different lunch place, start a new activity you enjoy.”
Carve Out Time for Dating
Finally, you’ll want to make sure you’re carving out time in your schedule to date, as it can easily get lost in the wayside.
“Plan times each week for dating,” says Swoboda. “In addition, in the hour before you go out, set aside time to de-stress from work and kids, and arrive a little early for your date.”
“Start with a Zoom or coffee date for an hour to get know each other and, in particular, understand if you have shared interests and values. Then, only go on a proper dinner date if there’s a good measure of compatibility and chemistry. Use your requirements to weed out time-wasters.”
Take Care to Avoid Another Divorce
Finally, Swoboda says to be mindful of going slow when dating post-divorce or break-up. “There are a number of reasons for divorce, but a major one is rebounding,” she says.
“Remember, there’s a difference between lust, which is shorter-lasting, and love, which can be long-lasting. Often, the thing that most attracts you in the lust stage becomes very annoying and leads to relationship downfall in the love stage. So, take your time.”