By Allison Pescosolido, M.A.
Founder, Divorce Detox®
Dating often feels like a great and insurmountable weight, especially when you were married for most of your adult life.
Time and again, men make the mistake of setting lofty goals for a first date: Could this be the one? Will she be the mother of my children?
When the goal of every date you go on is to find a long-term relationship, you are setting yourself up for failure.
Divorce is hard enough. Instead, set yourself up for dating success from the get go. Be realistic, finding the woman of your dreams is a process. Dating is just the first step.
Chances are you will have to date more than a few women before finding the person you truly want to be with. So change the goal of your dating. Rather than looking for a long-term relationship – far afield in the future – stay present and simply look to make a connection with a woman that may lead to something more meaningful.
The following five tips will help you stay in the moment, make stronger connections, and raise your overall satisfaction with dating.
Tip #1: Take it slow.
Don’t start out planning your retirement together or thinking ahead to passionate embraces. You may still be healing from your last relationship and so may she. You’ll never lose by taking it slow. Use the brakes more than the accelerator. Jumping into something may feel great in the moment, but it can cause mammoth regret later on if you go for too much too soon.
Tip #2: Move slowly.
Literally. You are bound to be a bit nervous on a first date. Don’t leap up to catch the waiter’s attention–and knock over the water glass while you’re at it. If the menu seems incomprehensible, look at it slowly and calmly. The blurry lines or daunting prices may sort themselves out into something reasonable. Walk into the dark movie theater slowly and orient yourself to where the exits and stair lights are. Moving slowly will make you seem poised and confident–even if you aren’t–and help you avoid embarrassing mistakes.
Tip #3: Be prepared.
Arm yourself with a few conversation starters. Don’t put them to the person rapid-fire. Instead, sprinkle them into the conversation. Use questions that you are truly interested in, such as: “If you could have lunch with one famous person from history, who would it be and why?” or “What is your favorite childhood memory?” Limit talking about your divorce to no more than a few sentences.
Tip #4: Get curious.
Be genuinely interested in the other person. Seeking to put her at ease will also help you relax. Take an interest in her work, recreational activities, opinions, and life situation. Without being nosy or probing, let her know that you want to get to know her better. The best way to communicate interest is to listen. Women love a good listener.
Tip #5: Be yourself.
Of course, you want to make a good impression. Don’t be overly anxious to do this, though. Be yourself, don’t compromise your own opinions, ideas, or humor to try to be what you think she might want you to be. That doesn’t mean you have to show all your dirty laundry, but it does mean that you should be sincere and genuine. After all, you want the person to like you for you, not some artificial version of yourself.
Relax and enjoy yourself! Dating after divorce can be fun. Allow yourself have a good time, even if this person doesn’t turn out to be your soul mate.
Allison Pescosolido, M.A., a founder of Divorce Detox®, is a relationship coach with a Masters in Psychology. Allison has helped thousands of men and women transform their lives through major life transitions. She is frequently featured in the media (New York Times, CNN, Fox) for her expertise on the subjects of relationships, breakups, marriage, divorce, dating and her unique treatment approach for divorce recovery. Her success in helping clients quickly identify, manage and overcome the specific challenges in relationships and divorce has led her to become the nation’s leading relationship expert. Whether single, married or divorced, you have the opportunity to learn valuable skills to restart your life.
Allison is proactively challenging and changing the stigma of divorce and relationships on a national level. She is dedicated to utilizing divorce and relationships as an opportunity for personal growth and a renewed life. The Divorce Detox proprietary programs transcend more traditional forms of treatment resulting in rehabilitating the spirit and increasing overall well-being in every aspect of life. Based in Los Angeles, California, Allison Pescosolido, M.A. offers relationship support (in person, by telephone and online) for anyone going through separation, divorce, a marriage crisis or relationship and dating issues.