The ritual of dating is as old as time itself, when cavemen supposedly clunked their chosen cavewoman over the head with a club and dragged her off by her hair. It has changed a lot since then, thank goodness, but the waters can still be treacherous to navigate if you haven’t dated in a while.
Getting back into the dating game is a bit of a game, actually. We are talking about the fact that a good strategy will help you avoid some of the more awkward things that can happen. Don’t let the horror stories of your friends lead you to give up before you’ve even gotten started. The rules and etiquette of meeting someone in the 21st century have changed, but that doesn’t mean that you have to change your ethics or beliefs in order to find that person who is right for you.
We will give you tips on how to get back into dating as well as some tips for handling your particular situation. No matter how long your hiatus has been or how old you are, there is still hope for finding companionship, affection and most of all love.
REASONS FOR YOUR SELF-IMPOSED HIATUS
There are many possible reasons why you haven’t been looking for love in a long time. Maybe you have already found it or other things in your life have taken priority. Let’s take a look at the more common reasons that women might be “hibernating” so to speak.
Yes, we mentioned the “D” word. Divorce can be a nasty proposition. Splits aren’t always amicable, depending on the circumstances that brought everything to a head. Secrets are found out and lawyers enter the arena. Often, third parties make it even harder to communicate with the person who once said that they loved you. If children are involved, it gets even tougher to manage. All-in-all, it will be a cry fest or a shouting match – either with your soon-to-be ex-spouse or at a time when you are alone.
It takes time to heal from a marriage break-up. Jumping back into dating is not fair to you or the other person. Don’t let loneliness or despair drive you to date before you are ready. In the same vein, don’t jump on the “all men are dirt” bandwagon either. Hold out hope for yourself to find love again.
Death of a Partner
They say that divorce is like a death that you have to grieve. Well, when your spouse or significant other actually does pass away, it is even more final. Losing someone that you love brings about a myriad of emotions including anger, fear, sadness, loneliness and hopelessness. The stages of grief can be the same whether they die after an illness or suddenly in a tragic accident. There is a lot to deal with besides just the feelings. This person was your other half and a piece of you dies with them.
When it comes to dating, don’t push yourself. Grief cycles are different for everyone; don’t feel pressured by friends or family to “get over it” because they feel that enough time has passed. Only you can decide when you are able to breathe freely again.
Whether you are living with someone or seeing a person who you thought would be “the one,” losing that can be devastating. It’s all about our perception of our relationship that brings the pain, confusion and sadness. You might feel like a fool for not seeing that this person was stringing you along or hiding other behaviors. Don’t be so hard on yourself. When you are in love, you want to always see the best in people and you don’t expect someone you love to lie to you, even in this day and age.
You are likely to participate in “rebound dating.” It may seem like you are moving on by doing this or getting even with a cheating boyfriend, but it is you who loses in the end. Your heart is not in it and the other person is getting damaged goods because the tear in your heart has not had time to close properly. There is no shame in a relationship gone south. Resist complicating it with another boyfriend.
It is hard for women to have it all, even now. We have to choose in some instances. Maybe right now you have decided to concentrate on where you want to go in life instead of finding someone to share it with. There is nothing wrong with that. Career-minded women often put dating on hold to focus on climbing the ladder of success. Just make sure that along the way, you don’t grow jaded about your need for a man. A relationship is not about needing a man but about finding someone that you would like to share your life with.
Maybe you chose to be single or things didn’t work out with your child’s father. Either way, when a child is in the picture, they come first. It is the duty of parenting. You are the first teachers that your child will have. Teach them well.
This fact, however, doesn’t have to mean that there is no room for love of another kind. It may become too hectic to date when your kids are small, but as they grow, so might your need to have a special person in your life. Don’t lose hope because you have kids. They are special to you and the right person in your life will care for them too.
Lack of Love
Believe it or not, some people get out of the dating game because of the lack of love. Dating and liking someone isn’t a substitute for a true love connection. Men and women alike are beginning to see that sex doesn’t equate with love either. Yes, you may not be at a loss for sexual propositions, but what about walks in the park, watching a movie or just getting to know someone. The thought of sleeping with several men and never even knowing who they are is frightening even in the 21st century.
Women want more. The lack of companionship, true interest, honesty and genuine affection can make dating seem like a worthless task. Settling for what is presented to you is not love. You are worth more than that.
HOW TO KNOW WHEN YOU ARE READY TO DATE AGAIN
There is no magic formula to tell you when it is time to jump back into the dating pool. You might be scared to do it but if other issues in your life are resolved, that might just be your cue to get back out there.
Dealing with Emotional Baggage
After a divorce, there is a lot of baggage on both parts. Even if the split did not bring with it shouting, weeping and wailing, you can still grieve its loss. If you are still talking about him and lamenting the reasons for your marriage break-up, the time is not right to date.
On the other hand, if you can talk about your ex without cringing and the kids can mention him, you are nearly there. Believing that love is still out there for you and that you are worthy of it, is the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle of healing to fall into place. Go and find the person that you were meant to be with.
Getting Past the Grief
This can pertain to a divorce as well as a deceased spouse, but we are talking specifically about a spouse or a significant other who dies during a relationship. Maybe the last words you spoke to them are on your conscience. In the case of a tragic accident, there is no closure, no time to say good-bye.
Living in those moments will do nothing but harm you. Instead learn to remember the times that you spent together and that you were loved by him. He would want you to get a fresh start in life and not exist in limbo forever. That doesn’t mean forgetting him, but keeping the memories in your heart and not your head. Decide to move forward believing that you have his blessing and reconnect with others. In time, you may find another special person to love.
Finally Living Again
When a relationship is over, there’s a lot to sort out. It may be the kids, the finances, the new relationship with the ex and your own feelings. Underneath it all, you are still you. Maybe you’ve forgotten what it was like to be you after all these years. Well, it’s time to rediscover that magnificent and interesting person.
Just like him, you are entitled to have a life again. Not just a life with someone, but a life that is your own. What do you like to do? What are your hobbies? Is there anything on your “bucket list” that you would like to accomplish? Now is the time to let that woman shine. When you are looking for someone because you are lonely, dating is not the answer. When you have a firm grip on who you truly are and what you want out of life, then dating means finding someone to share your interests – not become the main one.
There Is Time
Your career, your children and even your grief can take up a lot of your time. Dating is not something to fit in between business meetings. The person that you want to meet (and who wants to meet you) deserves to have your full attention. You’d want that from them, too, wouldn’t you? Choose to dedicate some time to dating and make the most of it. That is when you are most likely ready to get back in the game.
PREPARING TO DATE AGAIN – FIRST THINGS FIRST
So, you think you are ready to find romance again. That’s great. Don’t just go out and hit the first bar or club nearby. There are some things that need to be dealt with before you are fighting fit to get in the ring.
Dating has changed in the 21st century. Men, on the whole, don’t come calling at your door anymore or ask your parents if they can talk to you on the porch before even approaching you for a date. Now, women are asking the men out and it can be a nice, fun twist on things.
What to Do before Dating
Prepare yourself to meet the man that you want in your life. That could mean getting in shape. This is not a slight but a matter of reality. Getting in shape is not just for someone else, but to keep yourself healthy. And, we do tend to get a bit carefree when we’ve been in relationships a long time. Some men are, in fact, looking for a specific body type, but when you look your best you will gain confidence in who you are and your worthiness to be happy.
To go along with that new-found confidence, you’ll need some required tools if you want to get with the new dating age. First, find the proper clothing for dates. If you haven’t bought a new wardrobe in 20 years, it’s time for a little retail therapy. Choose outfits that flatter your figure and complement your skin tone. You can also go in for a new haircut and other beautifying tips. A girl should always put her best foot forward.
Money is essential. You already know that if you need the new wardrobe mentioned above. Dating means forking over cash for restaurants, movie theaters, clubs, dating services and the like – that doesn’t come cheap. Add the dating line item to your budget. We can’t say how much you will have to set aside. That will be up to you and your dating resources.
A lot of people date on the internet these days. Are you computer savvy? Even grandmothers are learning to use Skype and email. If you can upload a photo, fill out an online profile, chat through instant messages and navigate social media, you have all the tools you need on that front.
It is never pleasant to be rejected, especially if you have even a fleeting interest in someone. That is a part of dating as you might remember. Handling it will take a thick skin and a particular mindset. Accept that it may happen and have a system in place to deal with it. It might be positive, reassuring affirmations you whisper to yourself for motivation to stick with dating.
Know what you want. Many a dating mishap has come out of poor communication. Let potential mates know what your intentions are. For the first round back in the dating ring, you might want to date around. That’s fine as long as all parties know what to expect.
Devise a game plan. Like we have been saying, dating rituals and rules have changed. Some say that there are not any hard and fast rules except your own moral compass to guide you. Learning to date and become successful may require thinking outside the box. Choose to be open-minded. That includes dating online.
DATING TIPS FOR WOMEN OF ALL NEEDS
General Dating Tips
Whether you are divorced, a single mother, over 40 or a widow, there is a certain etiquette to dating that gives you sophistication and mystery. Also, you want to always protect yourself during the dating process. Keep reading to find out some general tips that all women can observe.
Be realistic – If you are 45, the chances that you will end up dating a 20-year-old are slim. It’s not impossible, but think of the potential for your relationship. Don’t get starry-eyed and delude yourself, therefore setting yourself up for failure.
Avoid desperation – Men can pick up on desperation like a hound dog chasing a squirrel. You risk catching the eye of a man who seeks to deceive you or take advantage. It could put off the one who would peak your interest.
Have fun – Don’t take yourself so seriously that you can’t relax and be comfortable. Throw your head back and laugh. Make fun of yourself if you make a mistake. It’s alright and it won’t kill you.
Put your best self out there always – No matter how many dates you go on, choose to show your best features. Dress well; observe etiquette; show confidence and genuine interest in others.
Put your game face on – This means have your mind in the right place where dating is concerned. Rejection happens, so be prepared. There will be an odd duck or two that crosses your path. Don’t see any date as a loss. You get to meet a lot of interesting people and might find a friend or two in the process.
Keep it casual – Just because you are back in the game doesn’t mean that every weekend you have to have a date. If you need a break for whatever reason, take it. Resist the urge to settle for less than you desire because you haven’t found your match just yet. Timing is different for everyone. Don’t get discouraged.
Stay true to yourself – Never pretend to like the same things that your date likes just to impress him. Men can see through that and might even try to trick you up to expose your lie. Instead be true to yourself. Men like women who are confident in what they do and who they are, whether he shares all your interests or not.
Keep it simple – Some women eat before going out on a date. You don’t have to do that, but you can be moderate. Don’t get drunk or eat so much that you have to loosen your belt.
Meet in a public place – It is never a good idea to reveal your home address to a man who you don’t know. Public places are safer anyway, but especially if things don’t go right on the date.
Prepare to go half on the bill on the first date – If he decides to pay for it all, then great. All men aren’t the same. Offer to pay your way just in case.
Keep to your daily schedule – Sitting by the phone waiting for him to call won’t make the phone ring. On the other hand, some men don’t like it when women constantly call or text them. If he hasn’t called in a couple of days, don’t sweat it. Don’t alter your life to please him. Move on.
Evaluate each date on his merits – Despite what you may think from your divorce or last long-term relationship, all men are not alike. Give each person a chance based on his own strengths and weaknesses.
Stay virtuous on your first date – Women are freer these days to do what they want but that means you are free to not do things as well, like sleep with a man on the first date. Truthfully, many men won’t say no to you if you invite them in, but they will think less of you for doing it.
It’s a catch-22 for sure, so don’t fall in the trap. Getting physical complicates things – especially when you want to call it quits later.
Single Mom Dating Tips
Just because you have kids doesn’t mean that you don’t need love as well. It can be tricky dating with children, especially small ones, but it can be managed if you are up for it.
Avoid introducing your kids to your dates – Kids get attached to people easily. When the relationship doesn’t go anywhere, they might still be looking for that man to visit. Wait until you decide to make him a keeper before introducing the children.
Be honest about your kids – Don’t get to know a man and like him and then spring the kids on him. It’s not fair to anyone. Tell him that you have children from the outset; include it on your dating profiles. This will weed out those who aren’t right for you.
Tend to your kids’ needs – Date as often as you can, being mindful of how your kids feel about mommy spending time away from them.
Avoid talking about the kids’ father – No man wants to be a walk-on part in the baby-father drama. If you are not married or seeing anyone, you are free to date. Let the father know that so there won’t be any problem when you begin dating.
Evaluate your dates as “dad” material – If you get serious with a man, he will eventually become, at the least, a father figure in your child’s life. You might like him, but if he doesn’t have a good rapport with your kids, cut him loose.
Divorcee Dating Tips
Get over your stage fright – It can be scary to begin looking for love after being married for many years. Methods of finding dates may have changed somewhat, but the basics are still the same.
You can do it – Avoid comparing yourself to other women. Also don’t give way to negative thoughts about your chances. You are not the only divorced woman who is giving love another go.
Hang out with single friends – Take the pressure off by going out with girlfriends. You can scope out some guys from the comfort of a table with your friends. Have fun and meet new people.
Accept social invitations – All of your friends will try to pair you up. You don’t have to say yes all the time, but getting back in the social scene will do you good.
Learn some small talk – Figure out some topics to use for ice-breakers. Discuss your future dreams, likes and hobbies, and travel for a start. Practice with friends.
Dating Tips for Women 40 and Older
Dating is not just for twenty-somethings. Yes, there are differences besides age, so let’s offer some tips for you.
Act your age – Just like dressing too young is not a good idea, neither is acting like you were 20 years younger. Maturity is not a bad thing. Look at dating as a woman with some experience under her belt. You may spot a bad match much sooner than a younger, less experienced gal.
Take a look at men your own age – Younger men may want an older woman but, for you, the wisdom of this match depends on what you are looking for. Having a bit of fun dating around is okay. When looking for a long-term commitment, though, a man who has some life experience may make a more suitable match in many ways.
Take your time – This is the problem with dating too soon. It is the curse of the rebound. You just want to be desired by someone else and that is understandable after a divorce, but the match more than likely won’t work. It’ll present another devastating blow to you.
Set the bar high – You are at a time in your life where you have different priorities than you had in younger years. It is important that your mate have a job, a good credit rating, be financially stable and a number of other things. Don’t settle for less because of a pretty face. It isn’t worth it.
Avoid the superiority complex – All men are not the same and all men are not immature. Set your baggage aside from your divorce and look at each new man as an individual who is not like your past relationships.
Don’t play games – Cat fights and the war of words is for younger women who haven’t learned any better. You do. Handle yourself like a lady and accept nothing less than to be treated like one.
Try online dating – It is the way of the world today.
Dating is the ritual through which we find love in this world. If you have been out of the game for a long time, don’t be afraid to try it again. You might not get together with your match the first time out, but you will meet a lot of interesting people and change your life – for the better.