Getting Back in the Game after Divorce
Knowing when, who and how to date can be baffling after ending a marriage. Here are some ideas on how to handle it.
The best piece of advice I ever received came from a tennis coach. He said, “Don’t play injured, it only makes things worse.” And of course he was right.
Funnily enough, we weren’t talking about tennis. The game he was referring to was the dating game, and my injury was a bruised heart. During my first post-divorce year, I embarked upon an enthusiastic campaign to find Mr. Right. If there was a dating Olympics, I would have broken a few speed records, going on several dozen dates — sometimes up to two a day — that first year.
I gave it my best effort but ended up with very little to show for it. I had this wrongheaded idea that I could play through the pain. I was afraid of losing ground to others who were younger and savvier, with better moves. This thinking proved to be counterproductive and caused me to overdo things in an effort to outdo what I perceived to be the competition. More importantly, it stopped me from achieving my personal best.
It’s really that personal best that actually attracts people to you, making it easier to meet the right person. Had I followed my tennis coach’s advice and waited until I recovered, I would have arrived at the top of my game sooner rather than later. It actually took about a year before my ego caught up with my emotions. I eventually reconciled myself to the fact that things weren’t “fine” and I that had some work to do.
In the parlance of sport, I had to review my playbook and replace all the wrong moves with all the right ones. I had to realize that the only competition I had to outmaneuver was me. Finally, I had to practice enjoying my own company. I was a team player for 20 years who was suddenly learning a solo sport. (Well at least it wasn’t as frustrating as golf.)
You have to know where you are before you can move on. It’s like those subway maps in New York, London or Paris. Look for the red X that says “You Are Here” So when you’re newly single, proceed with caution.
The biggest mistake a newly single person makes is talking about his or her ex. Your EX marks the spot to avoid — no one likes to listen to a whiner, blamer, “I’m righter” or complainer. Not sure if that’s you? Stop and ask a friend for directions and don’t be afraid to follow them.
Be a good sport and do not embark on revenge dating, a game you’ll never win and you may end up injuring an unsuspecting heart in the process. That will cost you dearly. You’ll sit in Karma’s penalty box wondering why everything in your life is going wrong. Instead, after you’ve recovered your emotional equilibrium, proceed with a sense of fun and not a sense of forever. Before you dive into the deep end of the dating pool, test the waters by wading in slowly. Remove rushing from your playbook.
There will always be someone better looking, smarter, richer and more charismatic than you are. It’s a fact. Dwelling on this fact of life only weakens your confidence and confidence makes you feel sexy. When you feel sexy, you look and act sexy. So forget about how you measure up. A date is a one-on-one situation, so the only person you’re competing against is yourself. Focus on your assets and play to your strengths. Don’t let your psyche fake you out.
When it comes to dating, friends are one of the most underutilized social networks. At the very least, you and your date will both have one thing in common — the friends who fixed you up. If you run out of things to talk about halfway through dinner, your friends are always fair game.
Another potential source of dates includes what I refer to as target-rich environments. If you’re a woman, take up outdoor sports like tennis, skiing, golf or kayaking. If you’re a man, take a course at a local college or community center. Women look to self-improvement activities to fill up their idle time: practicing yoga, learning a new language or learning how to paint. Tap into the popularity of dancing. Social dancing is back in vogue these days. There’s a dearth of male partners out there and women love to dance. You do the math.
The most popular and easiest way to connect is online. According to Articlesbase, a free online articles directory, “40 million Americans use online dating services. That’s about 40% of the adult American single population.” The thing I like most about online dating is that you can try out a potential date before actually committing to a meeting.
E-mail, texting and yes talking are all good ways to determine if you want to advance to the next level.
Whether it’s conversation over coffee — the preferred method of first meetings — or dinner, with online dating, you’ll already be familiar with the person sitting across from you. One caution though: you have to be truthful. Outdated photos; lying about your age or weight; about your occupation or social status; is not only deceitful — is disappointing for everyone. Upon first meeting, over half of the men I went out thanked me for looking like my photo.
Finally, dating is a about math, not science. It has more to do with probability than chemistry, just ask the bookmakers in Vegas. The more people you meet the better your chances are of meeting someone you’d like to see again. And remember, dating is a lot more fun than school ever was.
Single now for six years I have made a decision to remove myself from the playing field. A busy and fulfilling career in international sales combined with the launch of my first book makes my life complete for the moment. I may get back in the game someday but for now, I’m content to watch from the sidelines and provide a little coaching every now and then.
Copyright © Catherine Larose/2010 Singular Communications, LLC.