Internet dating post divorce

Internet dating - post by Debra Thorpe for Smart Divorce

So you’re divorcing or you’ve come out of a significant relationship – what now? What does this mean for your future? There’s so much to try and make sense of emotionally let alone financially and practically, and frankly the future looks something like a nebulous grey ball.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from coaching clients who’ve come to me around this time in their lives it’s that whether you’re relieved to have left the relationship or whether you’d rather still be in it, your experience of finding yourself suddenly single can be very daunting indeed. This can especially be the case if your identity and much of what anchored you to how you saw your place in the world was related to your position as a spouse or partner. The world has never looked so full of couples (my blog explains why this is the case) and now you aren’t half of one.

At some point, perhaps once the initial maelstrom has calmed, thoughts of whether / when to start dating again will start to surface. Now if your relationship was a long one and it’s been quite some time since you had a date, that can challenge the confidence of even the most self-assured:

Where will I meet someone?
How does internet dating work?
Is my best-friend-from-school’s brother / sister still available?
Can I be bothered??

If said brother / sister isn’t available and you’re considering internet dating to get you out there again, here are a few tips to help you move forwards.

  1. Be clear on why you want to start dating.
    Because your friends are pushing you and you sort of feel it’s about time yourself?
    Because you need a confidence boost?
    Because you really don’t want to waste time in finding a partner again? Getting clear on what’s motivating you is important and helps you decide on a strategy. A strategy for dating? Well, yes. A brief dalliance with internet dating whilst you find your feet can be fun if you treat it like that and don’t necessarily have high expectations of meeting ‘the special one’ in the first month. The surge of interest you’re likely to experience from prospective dates when you first join a site can be tremendously confidence boosting and allow you to enjoy the back and forth game of online chatting with a similarly (hopefully) single person. If the impetus to get dating again is coming from your friends and you’re not ‘there’ yet, take your time. Especially with internet dating. It can be a cruel environment if you’re not prepared to be ghosted. Ghosted? Yep, there’s a whole new lingo to be learned too. It’s when someone you thought you were getting along with suddenly disappears with no explanation, in a way that would be considered downright rude in the ‘real’ world. No gentle and courteous withdrawing from the fledging relationship, just a black hole of silence as they slide back into the primordial swamp of dating app-land. You should be aware this is a common occurrence. So treat it as an opportunity to hone your chat skills and aim to move it to a face-to-face meeting soon if there’s apparent interest on both sides. If the other party isn’t keen to move forwards on this, it could be because they’re keeping you in the background whilst they work through other opportunities first. For that reason you’d be well advised not to pin all your hopes on just one online ‘relationship’ nor to imagine it to be more than it is at this stage.
  2. Put together an engaging and intriguing profile.
    What if your aim is to find someone for a relationship beyond casual dating? Someone in tune with your values, your interests and maybe some interests of their own that you’d like to know more about. Don’t dismiss internet dating for this. There are probably many people online who want just what you do and maybe don’t have many opportunities to meet a partner through more traditional methods. Your profile content is key here:

    • by all means say what you enjoy or like, but say why you enjoy it – if you like a particular type of film or a band or you like cooking, say why. Provide some context, make it interesting, ask what their favourite film, band, food to cook is. Make it easy for someone to make an initial approach beyond asking you, ‘Hey, how are you doing today?’
    • throw out a fun challenge – if you can do 10 press-ups or balance a spoon on your nose for 15 seconds, ask if they can better that. Make your profile stand out.
    • steer clear of a shopping list for a mate and instead create a picture of what life would be like with you – definitely no needy content like ‘looking for a decent man on here after all the let downs I’ve had’. No superficial ‘only blonde yoga instructors over 5’8″ should reply’ or ‘no beardies’. I’ve seen some questionable ‘amusing’ profiles too – guys, it’s not a good idea to say ‘I’m not a murderer, honest’ with a profile picture of you with an intense expression and holding an axe. Some jokes don’t translate well in this environment.
    • don’t waffle – 100 words or thereabouts should be enough.

    Finally, please don’t say you enjoy nights out at the pub but are just as happy staying in with a film and a bottle of wine. Avoid cliches.

  3. Know when to take a break
    Don’t stay on a site indefinitely if it’s not working for you. Switch to another for a while, and if ghosting and time-wasters begin to get you down, stop altogether until you feel you can deal with it again. And finally – by whatever means you meet someone for a first date, if it doesn’t work out, aim to find 2 positives from the experience to keep you buoyant: you got to try a new bar you can go to with friends another time, you learned something about what you’re not looking for, you got a little more used to having a relaxed chat with someone you hadn’t met before, you learned you quite like beards / brunettes. And remember, it’s the numbers game. Good luck!