5 Things I’ve Learned About Dating Post-Divorce

After my six-year marriage ended abruptly, I went through all the post-divorce rituals: wallowing, getting a makeover, reading every self-help book. There was plenty of soul-searching and trying new hobbies like rock climbing and swing dancing in there, too.

When I decided to finally start dating again, I was living in a new city 700 miles from everything that reminded me of my 20s and my marriage. It was time to get back out there.

Truthfully, dating after divorce isn’t always easy. Finding the confidence to try again can be hard, but it's also exhilarating, fun, and even emotionally rewarding — something that's explored by Sarah Jessica Parker's character Frances in the second season of HBO's Divorce, airing Sundays at 10 p.m. EST. Ahead, five things I learned about dating after a divorce.

Courtesy of HBO
It’s normal to be nervous, but don’t forget to be excited.

I was admittedly terrified as I headed to meet my first first date in 12 years. Would everything about dating be different this time around? Would I compare him to my ex? Was I even really ready for a relationship?

The date went fine. I had no interest in a second date with him, but the experience and everything that accompanied it — the butterflies, the flirting, getting to know someone new — reminded me that I was opening myself up to the thrills that come with the early stages of a new relationship, and that was something to look forward to.
Courtesy of HBO
Dating, like any skill, takes practice.

When I first started dating again, I envisioned easily meeting someone in the grocery-store checkout line, at the gym, or out with friends. I didn’t realize how different things would be a decade after I first started dating my ex-husband. With dating apps, I found that “connections” came fairly quickly but often fell flat in real life.

But with practice, I began to spot red flags earlier on, saving myself time and emotional energy. A few months into my dating experiment, it was easy to recognize if a virtual interaction would turn into a real-life encounter. I learned to date in a smarter way.
Courtesy of HBO
It’s up to you to decide what you want to reveal and when.

Figuring out when to drop the “divorcée” bomb was one of the most daunting parts of dating again.

“Wait, how long were you married for?” a date once asked as we dug into each other’s backstories over pizza. It was our second meet-up, and I had casually slipped “when I was married” into a story as a way of breaking the news. At first, I was worried that the date would turn too serious too fast, but he asked a few more postmortem questions and we moved on to other conversations. That was it.

The more dates I went on, the clearer it became — there is no formula for when to let someone in on your relationship history. Sometimes I told dates right out of the gate, nonchalantly. Other times I waited and let them get to know me label-free. I learned to share that information when it felt right. Being divorced didn’t define me.
Courtesy of HBO
You are going to get ghosted. Don’t take it personally.

“Ghosting” wasn’t a social norm in my previous dating life, but it’s par for the course today. Never hearing from someone again was a shock in the beginning — especially if it was after a first date that went seemingly well. But I learned that it was an inevitable part of the dating process — it doesn’t happen with everyone, and I shouldn’t take it personally when it does.
Courtesy of HBO
Don’t be afraid to break your own rules.

Divorce sucks, and it’s easy to put up barriers to prevent getting hurt again: not texting someone first after a date, not opening up early on, not getting your hopes up, not stepping outside your comfort zone. But the key to dating after divorce is making sure you put yourself out there and don’t close yourself off to potentially great people and experiences.

Exactly one year after I made my resolution to start dating again, I flew to another state to ring in the new year with a potential love interest I met through mutual friends. I had been down the long-distance-relationship road before with my ex and swore I’d never do it again. But taking that risk and breaking my own rule ended up being a great decision. I found the courage to put myself out there. I learned to be confident again. I finally stopped looking back. And most importantly, I opened myself up to love again.
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