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August 2009

Dating after Divorce

After going through a divorce, there are lots of things to think about before you begin to date again.  From the IJL clients I have worked with, here's what helps people succeed in dating after a divorce.

Being positive is really important.  Before you go on a date, think of things you can talk about so you don't end up talking about your ex.  (And that doesn't mean spending your entire dinner talking about your kids, either!)  You can ask questions.  You can talk about your job, what you love to do on weekends, a recent trip you took.

Many times I have heard feedback from dates during which someone has bad mouthed his/her ex-husband or wife.  No one wants to hear you talk trash about your ex.  It doesn't make him/her feel that you are in a good place to be dating.  It also may scare the person off.  So much negativity doesn't make a date fun for anyone.  Sure, your ex may have done some terrible things, but a first date isn't a therapy session.  You want to make a good first impression on your first date.

There are some constructive ways to talk about divorce, as the subject may come up.  Christine Hartman, a psychologist and author, has some advise:

  • Very personal information, such as why the marriage failed and the nature of your relationship with you ex, should be saved for a later date when the two of you are more comfortable with each other.  As Hartman puts it, "Your date wants to know about you, not your former marriage."
  • Don't go into too much detail.  Focus on what you learned and how it made you a better person.  "This decreases the chances of overwhelming your partner," she says.
  • Be neutral when speaking about your past partner.  If you criticize your ex, you risk sounding petty and emotionally involved.  If you heap on praise, you sound as though you still have romantic feelings for your ex.
  • Know what you want out of the relationship and what you're capable of.  "Be honest with yourself first, then with potential partners."

Conversation Don'ts for Men

Avoid these danger zones!

  • Don't corner her into revealing her age - it's never welcome.
  • Don't use an authoritative or formal tone - save it for the office.
  • Don't compliment below the neck.  No woman wants to know how you've been checking out her nether regions.
  • Don't go overboard with the bravado.  Bragging about past conquests, thinking you know more about her anatomy/job/family than she does, or trying to impress her with your salary or net worth will leave you solo.  Confidence is alluring - cockiness is not. 
  • Don't "over-friend."  This means you're acting like all you want is to chat, because that's exactly what you'll end up with.  Inject a little flirty banter into the conversation and don't hide your intentions. 
  • Don't "self-reject."  Deciding that someone is out of your league and failing to make a move will ensure you never get rejected or accepted.  Why?  Because you rejected yourself first!
  • Don't ask if she has kids right away.  Single moms are sensitive about this and fear that you might have your "avoid the instant family" radar turned on.