This isn’t your first rodeo. You’ve dated before, so why does it feel like you’re in high school all over again??? It has a lot to do with lack of confidence that we talked about in the last post. But there are a lot of other things that can contribute to feeling nervous to get out there again.
It just feels wrong
You’re out on your first date since your divorce and you’re a wreck. Everything around you just feels super uncomfortable. You’re sitting across the table and they asked about what you do for a living, favorite things, hobbies and it all just seems weird.
Starting from scratch seems impossible. Especially after you spent years building a relationship with your ex all for it to just end. Now you have to mind your manners and tip toe around things to ensure you don’t come off the wrong way or say something stupid. It’s tons of effort that a lot of people just avoid.
Maybe you’ve been avoiding it for a while. I don’t blame you. It’s EXHAUSTING! But if you’re in a place where you just feel lonely and want to share your everyday adventures with someone you truly love…then it’s time to get your big girl/boy pants on and get out there!
You’re scared to talk about your past
Divorce is a super touchy subject. A lot of times, people associate divorce with baggage and maybe something’s wrong with you. The stigma is if the man is divorced, he probably cheated or is irresponsible and if the woman is divorced, she’s probably drama…steer clear.
It’s unfortunate that people label you a certain way just because of the “D word” especially since divorce is so common! Don’t be scared of what your date will think of you being divorced (if they don’t already know).
It’s important to be open and honest on the first date. Definitely let them know that you’re divorced sometime on date #1 because if they aren’t comfortable with it or treat you different, its best that you don’t waste precious time or get attached only to find out they weren’t on board with you.
There is a fine line between open and honest and TOO open and honest…for the beginning of the relationship’s sake. Try to sum up your divorce in 1-2 sentences the first time you bring it up. If you sit there and dwell on details, or bash your ex…it will scare your date away.
Keep in mind that they don’t know you yet. They don’t know your sense of humor or your temperament. Keep it simple. “Yeah, I got a divorce last year after 4 years of marriage. We just weren’t compatible at all.” Is perfect.
If you bring up cheating, abuse, money, or anything really specific…it will steer your date to a more deep, serious (possibly dark) place. And you don’t want that. You want to keep it inviting, fun and light.
It’s hard not to compare every single thing to your ex
That’s what you have gotten used to for years. From the way your ex talks, interests, how they eat, how they dress, sense of humor…everything. So when you’re out on a date with someone, it’s practically impossible to shut that off in your brain.
When you got married, you really thought that your ex was going to be the last romance in your life. So naturally, you let everything sink in really deep…to the point of vulnerability. So don’t beat yourself up over thinking about your ex a lot on your date. You were familiar and you were used to them. Naturally, you will compare things.
What you have to watch out for is saying those things out loud. One or two things may slip out…but the more you mention them, the more your date may think you aren’t over them. Like I said before, you could be SO OVER your ex and have zero feelings for them, but that doesn’t change the fact that you were around them for years and that’s what you’re used to.
So refrain from bringing up your ex and comparing things. Even if you didn’t want to get a divorce, it’s important to give this new person a fair chance.
Also, if your relationship ended pretty badly, talking about your ex in any way could shift your mood without you noticing until you’re 4 glasses of wine deep and crying about the dog they took during the move. That is NOT an emotional place you want to take your first date to. You will scare them away so fast.
You’re a lot pickier than before
In the past, it may have been pretty easy to find someone you were compatible with. You have more responsibilities, you’re more mature and more experienced at life and you have a lot more to lose. It’s likely going to take a lot longer. Don’t let it discourage you.
For every person you go on a date with and it doesn’t work out, think of it as you learning more about yourself. Through those dates you will find things that you like and don’t like. From there, you will put it in the back of your mind in an imaginary filing cabinet labeled “dream wife/husband”. The more items in that are in that filing cabinet, the easier it will be to spot that dream date when you see it.
You aren’t wasting time by going on dates with people that end up being a dud.
You’re training for when the actual thing comes along, you won’t be nearly as nervous, you will have figured out exactly how to talk about your divorce, yourself, your hobbies and basically date again.
You feel guilty
Guilt can be the deciding factor of whether or not you take that step of dating again.
Maybe you don’t want to rub it in your ex’s face that you’re dating again because they aren’t over you. At the end of the day, when YOU feel that you’re ready, it’s time to stop worrying about everyone else. Of course it’s important to keep the relationship cordial between you and your ex for the sake of kids, but at the end of the day…your happiness is paramount.
It hurts, it’s hard, it’s uncomfortable to think of yourself with someone else but that’s life! You have to move forward. You moving on will show your ex that you are willing to take steps to be happy and they should too. It is the very first step after that paperwork goes through to physically let the other person know that you aren’t together anymore. Because sometimes, they have to SEE it to believe it.
So don’t let your ex hold you back from happiness. They have already held you back long enough.
Kids can also be a huge reason you feel guilty. Is it too soon? Am I being irresponsible? I’ve already messed with their emotions enough.
If you’re still feeling these things, yet you do want to start dating and love again, there’s nothing wrong with you going on dates and not telling your kids about it. It will actually keep you in check if you do it that way. Feeling that you’re sneaking around will increase the excitement of dating, it will make you get home on time, not doing anything sporadic or irrational, and force you to take things slower.
Do you mention kids on the first date?
A lot of people struggle with when to tell their new partner that they have kids. My rule of thumb is, if asked definitely tell them the truth. But if you aren’t asked and nothing like that comes up, hold off for a date or two.
I don’t say that to hide your kids…but it’s about focusing on just you and that other person to see if you have a true connection first. Don’t think of it as you’re scared they may not want to date you anymore if they know you have kids, think of it as…are they worthy of knowing more about my personal life? Could I imagine this person around my kids?
So there you have it! Some of the big stressors people have about going on their first date. If I missed anything you’re stressed out about, feel free to leave it in the comments below or shoot me a message!
Make sure you subscribe below so you don’t miss out on my next post! Dating After Divorce-Facing Judgment (from family, friends and your ex).