Dating After Divorce: Scariest Thing Ever

When I left my husband, we had already been sleeping in separate beds for 6 years. We maintained appearances and went to family events together, but for all intents and purposes, had been living different lives for years. When I decided on divorce, there were so many horrible things that came with it, but the hope of finding ‘my person’ through dating made the process a little more bearable. Even if it took years to find him or if I ended up alone, I knew there would be a pretty exciting rollercoaster ride that I would get a couple good stories from.

Fast-forward:

Now I have to figure out how to meet the opposite sex again. Wearing a skimpy outfit and going out to the bar worked well in my early twenties, but I am a refined woman now (kidding, sorta). What I am looking for in a partner isn’t easily found in a smoke-filled room when I’m three sheets to the wind. Instead, I want to know the important ‘stuff’ before I even consider giving him my phone number. So how the heck does a woman maneuver the dangerous dating waters?

How I Dove into Dating:

  1. Therapy

    • I started with therapy. Now you are probably saying “WTF Brooke, I thought we were talking about how to start dating!”. Trust me though, you’ll want to hear the reasoning. Through self-reflection, I noticed there was an established pattern of the men I chose to date. They were under-employed, had abusive tendencies, and didn’t maintain their side of the bargain. I would repeat the pattern and come out devastated at the end, the empirical definition of insanity. So I wanted to get to the bottom of it, I worked through it with my therapist, found the cause, dealt with it, and learned ways to prevent the behavior. This already put me light years ahead of where I was when I started dating my ex-husband.
  2. Are You Ready to Date?

    • Be honest, are you ready for this? While dating and meeting new people is exciting and a huge boost to your ego, there is a downside that goes along with it: REJECTION! You could have a wonderful date but never hear from him again. You could date for a couple of months but it could end unexpectedly. Whatever the case, make sure that you are in a mental and emotional place to deal with the negative feelings. The last thing you need to do is take three steps forward after a divorce only to take five steps back. REALLY THINK ABOUT IT! And the cool part of all of this, if you aren’t ready, you get to do what you want and take your time. 🙂 You get to decide if you only want to casually date or try another relationship. Regardless of what people tell you, you’re the one in control and know what you are capable of handling. No one else can tell you that.
  3. Establish Your Non-Negotiables

    • When I was ready to dive into the dating realm, I established MY set of non-negotiables! No more of this ‘Well we have mutual friends,’ ‘he is really nice to my dog,’ or ‘he’s nice to his momma.’ None of that matters if he doesn’t have the basics covered. Something else to note, my list of non-negotiables is five items long. I don’t want you to think that the criteria have to be upwards of 50 in total. Mine were the following:

      1. Had to go to work every day.

        • This might seem like a no-brainer, but in my horrendous track record of a dating life, it took a little for it to sink in. The gentleman also needed to have a real job, not an entry-level position. I have worked so hard to get where I am in my career, that I would grow to resent the person if they didn’t put forth the same drive. I didn’t need them to make more money than I did or drive a Bentley, I simply wanted a hard worker.
      2. He needed to have his own place to live.

        • Now I had a little wiggle room with this one, but not much. The reason is that with any newly divorced person, there is a transition period. In those situations I made accommodations, but there had to be an actionable plan in place to get his own place. Or a pretty iron-clad reason for staying where he was. For example, the guy I am dating now owns his own house and is renting it out, but lives with his parents because it is 30 minutes closer to work. The house he owns is also for sale, and when it sells he is then going to buy a house that is even closer to the area he wants to live. So concessions were made and I am so happy they were.
      3. Shared in my religious and political beliefs.

        • If there is one thing I learned while I was married, was that there are already plenty of things to fight about in a marriage. So why add fuel to the fire by getting involved with someone who has fundamentally different beliefs? For many, the other person’s viewpoints aren’t important, but for me, they are critical sticking points. Especially if there is the opportunity for more children or even blending a family?
      4. If there were kids involved, he had to have at least 50% Custody.

        • After what I had been through, I knew that it takes an act of God for a man to get less than 50% custody. In instances where less than 50% custody was granted, it was an immediate red flag. Now I am sure there are exceptions out there that exist, but from my experience, that is not the case.
      5. Once a cheater, always a cheater.

        • When a guy would catch my eye online, there are a series of questions I would ask.  While my perception is based on the assumption of honesty, I would ask to see if he had ever cheated. If he did, then I moved onto the next opportunity. Cheating is a huge dealbreaker in my book so I wouldn’t tip-toe around the subject.

 

Your non-negotiables will probably be completely different from mine, but be true to yourself! Dating is about you and what you are looking for! NOT who mom wants you to bring to Christmas dinner!!!!! Once you complete your list, you have to share some of the items on your dating check-list.

 

 

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Hello, I’m Brooke, a working mom and aspiring sane member of society. I love being creative, wrangling my children and sharing my story. I feel like a mad hatter because of all the different hats I have to wear on a daily basis. I work full-time in marketing and try to balance all of the great things this life throws at me. The greatest lesson I have learned is it takes a better person to be kind than to be hurtful and try to live every day with that in mind.

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