How do you rejoin the world of dating after a marriage has ended? Here’s match.com’s relationship expert Kate Taylor’s dating advice with everything you need to know about starting over.
Don’t be tempted to use dating to salvage your pride. While you’ll undoubtedly get a confidence boost from realising you’re still desirable, it’ll only be a fragile support and if that relationship finishes too, you’ll feel doubly vulnerable. So wait a while. Instead of rushing back into looking for love, take some time to rebuild your self-esteem *for* and *by* yourself. Achieving things works – set small goals, like running for 10 minutes, or losing 5lbs, reading a high-brow literary classic, taking a good friend away for a weekend, getting a second job, redecorating a room… Small, achievable targets. They might feel trivial, but by regularly setting goals and meeting them, you’ll rebuild your image of yourself as successful – a huge boost, after the feelings of failure that divorce (however amicable) can create.
…But don’t stop
Your marriage failed, but that’s not a reason to swear off love completely. While you are rebuilding your self-image, consciously think about your marriage and what went wrong. Counselling can be invaluable now. The ideal is to reach a place of acceptance with your divorce, and your ex, and your new life. Realise that you have things to offer a new relationship.
Rock your baggage
In match.com’s annual LoveGeist survey into attitudes towards love and dating we found that the main reason people in their 40s are single is “emotional baggage”. They feel they have too much, or they don’t want to deal with a partner’s. I say, people of Britain, wise up! Baggage makes anyone a deeper, more interesting and ultimately more lovable person. It’s how you carry that baggage that matters. If you swing it jauntily – embracing life as a single-parent, or working a plan to get back on your feet financially – you’re attractive. It’s when you drag it with you morosely, or hide behind it, that it becomes an issue. You don’t want a partner who’s lived a trouble-free life, because you won’t know how they cope with problems. A partner who has faced crisis and carried on is a tried-and-tested survivor. Someone you can really count on.
The fastest way to rebuild your self-esteem and cure depression is to feel you’re helping others. Volunteers have the lowest levels of depression of any social group, so if the blues have hit you, join in. Sign up to help out, or – if you can’t find time to regularly volunteer – start raising money for a charity that’s close to your heart. If you’re a single, most charities have activities you can do with kids, and you may well meet others in the same boat. Plus, it sounds really hot on dates if you show your caring side!
There’ an old adage that love will find you only when you stop looking for it. But post-divorce, you have to be proactive. You’re older, you have less free time if you’re having to work longer hours or raise kids, more of your friends will be in couples – waiting for love to knock on your door could see you still pacing your hallway in your eighties. So, try to meet love halfway. Sign up for online-dating (perfect if you’re busy at work or at home) and widen your social circle, whilst you get on with creating a lovely, fulfilling life for yourself. The goal here is that you increase your chances to meet a new partner, while your eyes are shining at the goals and dreams you’re achieving as a singleton. THAT’S the attitude that will see your post-divorce self looking to the future with excitement, and bring someone new along to share the ride.
Meet singles in your area at uk.match.com