Divorced, single and ready to mingle? 7 Tips for successful dating by Leandie Buys

So often I hear women say, “are there still good men out there?”
“Are all the good guys are taken?”, “Where do you meet decent guys these days?” These are just some of the questions I get asked.
With the help of technology, the dating pool has greatly increased in size, but with that comes a number of problems! We only have a certain number of hours in the day, and we can’t just hook up with anyone that ‘swipes right’. (If you don’t know what this means, then you need to get on Tinder! It’s not just full of varsity jocks and sexual predators. There are some great guys on there too.)

Online dating and mobile apps help women filter out at least some of the ‘lost causes’ – which is better than sitting at a bar and hoping that some handsome eligible bachelor is going to rescue you from the beer bellies and rugby jerseys.

Another thing that can throw a bit of a spanner in the works is that you (probably) now come as a package – kids ‘n all. It’s not like back in your youth where you were still deciding on a career, and could travel the world at the drop of a hat. You have responsibilities now. And baggage. Your kids, your ex, your former in-laws are all part of the package that is ‘you’.

Anyone that wants to date you needs to be willing to be a part of an extended family.

The same applies to you. There are few single men over 35 that don’t come with a ‘little’ extra baggage. In my practice, I often find that ex-spouses often cause major relationship problems even after divorce.

Women are jealous and territorial over their children, often criticising their ex’s new partner and her parenting skills. While men become defensive and angry and tend to avoid confronting the issue. Eventually, the children are used as pawns in their parents’ relationship issues.

I’m not going to lie. Dating after divorce is not easy.

But there are some things you can do to find a nice guy, and to make the transition into the dating game just a little bit smoother:

1.             Have you dealt with your divorce?

This is the first thing that I ask all my single patients who say that they are ready to enter the dating pool. It is absolutely vital that you have dealt with your divorce, and the emotional and spiritual impact it will have had on you.

Even if you attended relationship counselling, you should also attend a few sessions of individual counselling after your divorce to help you work through all of the left-over emotions, and potential frustrations and anger.

You cannot enter a new relationship if you are not healed from the hurt that divorce brings. You need to be sure that you are able to offer a stable, healthy platform to build a new relationship on with your new partner.

2.             Know your expectations & deal-breakers

I like to encourage my clients to put together a ‘job description’ of what they are looking for in a new partner. When they meet someone that they think might have potential, I tell them to refer back to the ‘job description’ to make sure that they are not just settling for second best.

It is NEVER a good idea to get into a relationship to avoid being lonely. You need to know your worth, and you need to know what you’re looking for in a partner who will build you up and help you be all that you can be.

Your list can include things like:

Someone who is independent, has a good career, is settled, is trustworthy, treats people with respect, has hobbies and interests, is a good communicator, is kind…

Ask your friends if they think your list is realistic – remember, Mr Perfect doesn’t exist! But your list will help you stay on track when you think you’ve found someone with potential.

3.             Ask reliable friends to introduce you to someone

I’m not talking about getting all of your Facebook friends to set you up on blind dates. Tell some trusted friends (with good taste) that you are ready to start dating again, and ask them to introduce you to people that they think might suit you.

Don’t be afraid of sounding ‘desperate’. Your friends are probably dying to introduce you to someone, but they don’t know if you would be willing to be ‘set up’.

This is a far better way of getting into the dating pool than meeting random strangers from the internet. At least your friends have vetted him already, and they know he’s not a total ‘weirdo’!

4.             Try on-line dating, but register on more than one site

Chat to your friends about which dating sites are reliable and effective. There are also a lot of dating apps (Tinder) available for cell phones now which make sifting through potential profiles very easy. Make sure that any of the digital platforms that you use have a good privacy policy and are linked to a dating agency or specialist firm.

The specialist firms sometimes offer a ‘meet and greet’ service – so you don’t have to meet up with a stranger alone.

Take your time going through profiles, select only ones that you think really have potential. Make sure that if you do meet in person, you meet in a public place, and preferably for lunch or coffee for your first ‘date’. Always tell a trusted friend the details so that they know where you are!

Also, it’s a good idea to set up a separate email account for your dating exploits – a free gmail account will allow you to keep your work and social life separate, and it is easy to close down a gmail account if you are ever harassed.

5.             Get involved with your kid’s school activities

Go to the tennis matches, school functions and plays. You’ll get to know the other parents, and small talk about the kids is a good way to start a conversation with a single dad.

You could even set up a play date with your kids, and see where it goes from there.

6.             Get a hobby

This is the time now for you to do what you always wanted to do but just did not get around doing it.

When you do something that you are interested in you will meet other people that are also interested in what you are doing and who knows you might just meet someone that is like minded like you.

If I talk about hobbies I suggest things like, “going on hiking trails”, “cycling”, “dancing”, if you are living in Port Elizabeth I believe that on a Saturday evening people can “lang arm” there. If you like to exercise join a gym, I just think it is harder to strike up conversation with someone that is working out. Don’t just think you would like to start a hobby, do it!

7.             Have fun!

Remember that dating is supposed to be fun, it is about meeting new people and not about hoping that with every new guy or girl you meet that this might be a potential marriage partner.

Remember you have learnt from your previous relationships and marriage what the mistakes were, go out there with thinking the person that I will allow in my life can be very lucky. Your attitude must not be, “I hope he/she likes me” but rather “I hope I like him/her!


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