The last time I was free to date I had an amazing amount of free time. Sometimes my biggest plan was reading a magazine alone in my apartment with a bowl of popcorn and ice cream waiting in the freezer.
I answered to no one and I believed in a lifetime of love. Today, I’m lucky if I have time to eat my dinner before bed. And, while I believe in lifelong love, I have yet to find it.
After we separated my ex-husband threw himself into dating, never happy with being alone. He met and married his new wife within 18 months.
On the other hand, I gave myself some time and distance before becoming frightened out of my mind by dating again. Within months I met the most amazing man whose life path was taking him in another direction.
My dating shoes were hung up for quite some time. But recently I’ve been wrestling with the idea of “getting out there” again.
My first experience dating (after the divorce) was a complete disaster until I met A.W.
Since I worked at home and all my friends were married – and didn’t seem to know ANY single men – I resorted to an online dating platform. Actually, there was more than one.
After emails and phone calls, as well as simple background checks, I would agree to do a “meet and greet” at a coffee shop. The first one was with a guy who found it funny to make fun of the people walking past.
The second guy was buttoned up in his suit and wound so tightly I couldn’t imagine another word to describe him but “anal.” The third man was literally 6’9” and told me I was too short. Of course he knew how tall I was before we met. Why do people think it’s ok to waste your time?
After several years hiatus it’s time to make the foray into the dating jungle once again. Here’s what I learned the last time and what I’m doing this time.
Are You Ready?
Before you can be ready to be romantic or decide to make a lifelong commitment with someone you have to be ready to put someone else (beside your children) before you. Any great relationship is built on your ability to put the needs of your partner above your own.
When you’re ready is dependent on you, and only you. Some people start dating within weeks of their separation and others wait years. What you do and how long you wait is up to you.
But it’s important that you are authentic and honest with yourself as you make this decision.
You Are Ready . . . Now What?
You might be ready but there probably isn’t a long line of handsome, eligible suitors waiting outside your door. So, it’s important to get the word out that you’re interested in welcoming someone into your life.
However, while it’s nice that your friends know – it’s highly unlikely you’ll meet the man of your dreams from a fix up or at the local grocery store. Using all those strategies – like single’s parties, telling your friends, striking up conversations at the dog park, and going to the local watering hole – increase your potential for meeting someone, you’re best bet is to go where eligible men are waiting.
This means online dating. You might not like the idea, feel it’s a meat market or believe that guys are only there to hook up – but it’s also the place you’ll have the potential to meet more people. And, after all, it’s all a numbers game.
The more you meet, the better your chance you’ll find the one you’re looking for.
TRICK: To meet the man you want to meet online, tailor your profile to attract him. Never lie about yourself (because when they find out he’ll be history). However, spend time developing a profile that is attractive to the guy reading it.
When Do You Introduce Your Children?
There are two different thoughts about this question. One group believes you should wait until your relationship is solid enough that you think he’ll be around for a long time. The idea is that the children won’t be hurt when they bond with someone who won’t be staying, thus avoiding the same type of loss they experienced from the divorce.
On the other hand, the potential exists that the man you pin your hopes and dreams to will not like your children or visa versa. Now you’re in a real quandary. You’ve both fallen head over heels for each other and your children (or his) are not happy about the situation.
There is a middle ground that works well, and I’ve used. Once you’ve determined the guy doesn’t drive you nuts and you think there is some real hope the relationship will last longer than a month, introduce your children to him in a non-threatening environment. Go to the park, meet at a baseball game or anywhere outside the home and away from their friends.
After a meeting or two, find out what each think of the other. If he doesn’t like your kids or they don’t like him, you’ll have to reconsider the relationship. If they like each other, he doesn’t have to become an immediate part of the family, but now you can take your time getting to know him and allow him to join your family on occasion without the situation getting strained.
If you do breakup it’s ok. He’s not going to take the place of their father in their heart. In fact, they’ll likely be more concerned about your feelings. Of course, there is some sadness at the loss of a relationship in their lives, but if they were close, your children and ex-boyfriend may stay friends.
What About Sleepovers?
NOT a good idea if your child is younger than 15 years. And, not a good idea if you are preaching abstinence to your teen but having sex in the next room with a man who isn’t your husband. You might understand she isn’t mature enough to make this decision, but by definition she won’t recognize her immaturity and will dive headlong into a choice best left until she’s older.
Children are more likely to follow your lead than to listen to your rules. If you’re having sex with your boyfriend, it’s more likely that they are having sex with their romantic partners.