If you are divorced and not ready to date again, there are a few ways to warm yourself up and get yourself prepared to date when you are finally ready. Before starting to date again after divorce, you can gently dip your toes into the dating world without actually dating just to check all the nobs and switches and get your mind back to a single frame of reference.
After being married for 20 years I was so used to being in a relationship that I had to force myself to even start thinking of myself as single again. The biggest realization that I had a long way to go before starting to date again after divorce was when I was at a grocery store one Friday evening looking nice in an outfit for a family dinner. A guy my age was looking at me the way a leopard stares at a lone gazelle. I glanced up, grabbed my cart and fled as fast as I could walk around the corner to the next aisle. Once I got there I stopped and I realized that for the last 20 years since I had been married it was my knee jerk reaction to any male interest to move away ….”stay away!”. I should have stayed put and let him come up to me and maybe even ask for my number but I was not in the single mindset like I am a closer to a year later.
You may feel like prey before getting ready to date again after a divorce.
Ways that you can get pre-ready before starting to date again after divorce
1. Go out.
My first step was just to go out to a dance club for all ages. I have a friendly relationship with my “ex” so I actually made him take me but you can get a friend to go with you or go with a group. Being out on a Friday night after being a mom and wife for so many years was terrifying enough for me. Now I don’t even think twice about it but it was a tough but good first step.
2. Join meetup.
The second thing I did to get ready to start to date again after divorce was to join a singles meetup.com group. I went to an event and forced myself to meet one or two people of both genders that night. Again it was uncomfortable but repeating that pattern once a week or so gradually led me to being able to be more open to advances from single men a year later. It also was really nice to meet other divorced women who had survived. Almost all the people I knew before were still married.
3. Take a dance class.
I had always loved dancing but my ex has a few left feet and gave up trying to take ballroom dance with me many years ago. I found a class through meetup.com that allows you to go without a partner. While I did not meet any men that I liked there, I was forced to dance up close and personal with many a single man who was not my husband. This was fairly close to dating and gets you used to being touched by someone new.
4. Meet a wing man or woman.
In meetup, over the course of a year I naturally made friends with divorced and single women my age. Going to a singles event with 100 or so people with one of these friends is WAY easier than going alone. Plus I found that men are more likely to walk up to you when you are talking to a girlfriend than when you are standing there alone trying not to look strange.
5. Go out on a date with a male platonic friend and go hot tubbing.
While I did not have this opportunity, a friend of mine found going out with a male buddy was very useful. Just being out in public with someone who was not her husband was a good stepping stone for her. She also worried about being seen naked by new men when dating, so her therapist recommended a clothing optional hot tub to get her one step closer to dating. While not all parts of America have this option, if you do, it may be a good stepping stone for you.
6. Get a makeover.
This step is recommended by many dating and divorce books. For me, while I was married, I had gradually reduced my beauty routine to the minimum that was acceptable for my job and lifestyle. Getting some sexy clothes, jewelry, hair and nails helped me feel like a single woman again. Since men are attracted physically first, so this also helps women get more dates. Men can get some new clothes, a new sexier hair style and maybe even a manicure.
Soon after separation I met some men online who, like me, were also in the early stages of separation. Chatting with them by email or text was fun, sexy and supportive. We would often send racy messages about what we would like to do to each other but then never really act on it. I think for us this was a stepping stone although we did not acknowledge it to each other.
8. Tell everyone who will listen you are divorcing
For me one of the toughest parts of separation was to admit my marriage had failed. The more people I told who did not run away screaming the less bad I felt about it. It also helped me get over the denial phase of the grief process. And who knows, they may set you up on a date when you are ready!
If you do all or some of these steps before staring to date again after divorce you will be primed and ready to go when the realization comes that you are fully ready.