So you're freshly (or not so freshly) divorced and entertaining the thought of dating again. Scary? Sure. But with a little time, patience (and lip gloss) you can turn a dark time into a golden opportunity for new love.
Vikki Ziegler, New-Jersey based divorce attorney and creator of Divorce Dating, a website where singles who are either divorced or going through a divorce can meet and mingle, offered us her best tips for getting back out there.
"I got the idea for this website in 2002 when I was going through my own divorce," says Ziegler. "I felt lost and alone and wished there was a community for people going through the same thing as me."
"I always tell my clients that things get worse before they get better, but when you're ready, your next relationship will better than your last," she says.
So heed these tips to find new love:
Listen To Your Inner Voice: These days everyone from your mother to your pals has an opinion on your love life. And while it's great to lean on family and friends for insight and advice, the first rule of post-divorce dating is to heed your gut instincts. "Everyone has a different time frame for re-entering the dating pool," says Ziegler. "Your friends may want you to start dating but if you've gone through infidelity and have trust issues, it may not be the best time to talk to -and be intimate - with a brand new person." That said, it's easy to fall into a stay-at-home rut when you're feeling blue. So if you feel even an inkling to hit the town one night, call the sitter and dust off your high heels. "You may feel crappy when you leave the house, but you could end up having the time of your life," says Ziegler. "And if you find yourself moping at a bar, you can always just go home."
Rebound - Slowly: Sure, it may be tempting to jump in the sack with the first eligible guy you click with, but doing so too fast may backfire. "If you're the type who can handle a no-strings-attached tryst, then go for it," says Ziegler. "But all too often newly divorced women blur the lines of a casual fling with the real thing when they're not prepared for it." In other words, taking the time to evaluate what went wrong in the marriage will benefit your next relationship. Sure it may feel like wallowing when you're rehashing old disagreements in your mind, but doing a little self-reflection, and ID'ing the mistakes you made will only make you stronger and wiser for the next guy.
Zip Your Lips: As a general rule, don't talk about your ex on a date. Does the guy buying you dinner need to know your spouse never flushed the toilet or made that irritating sound while he breathed in his sleep? Probably not. "Not only will discussing your marriage on a date make you seem as though you haven't moved past it (and by default, aren't ready to date) but trashing your relationship will also make you seem bitter, even if you're not," says Ziegler. However, there is one exception: "Once you're comfortable working on an issue you struggled with in your marriage, you can broach it in a productive way." So if you have a hard time apologizing when you're wrong, try something like, 'Hey, I'm really bad at saying I'm sorry and am trying to work on it. Can you point it out if I don't do this?' Your date will feel good knowing you're trying to move past your divorce -- and into a possible future with him!
Don't Fear Therapy: Your best friend may have a high tolerance for post-divorce venting but often times, analyzing issues with a virtual stranger (especially one with a degree in problem-solving) can have a profound effect on your healing process. Think of it this way: You're paying someone whose agreed to do nothing but sit and listen to you vent. Who couldn't use that?
Don't Let Yourself Go: You may be thinking, 'Who cares now?' but it's a fact: When you look good, you feel good. So at home, you can lounge in your sweats but when you leave the house put on your favorite jeans, or just a little lip-gloss. And speaking of looking good, you wont be able to do that if you don't feel good. So take your new-found alone time and explore a new hobby, go to the park with your kids, or just try to make a weekly yoga.
Give Yourself a Break Already: Whether you've been married two decades or just a few years, getting out there for the first time is never easy. So do your heart a favor and go easy on yourself. Moving past a divorce takes time. But the hard part about time is that, well, it takes time. So be patient. Going into this new phase of life will be difficult - you know that - but it's also an opportunity to enter your next relationship a better person.