Dating after divorce, dating as a single mom, dating this go-around in life looks a lot different than in your 20s. You have changed. You already have your children, your career is established, and perhaps like myself, have experienced a divorce. YOU have changed. And quite possibly your goals of dating are different.
Your dating pool has totally changed. Let’s take a look at the cast of potential players in this new adventure!
Each man you meet comes to the table with their own set of unique circumstances.
Never married, no kids.
It is super important to get clarity on what has kept him this single and what is he looking for with you? Plainly speaking, does this guy have commitment issues? He will have an answer, but you will need some time to unfold before assuming he’s ready to get committed to you, even just to date.
And does he want kids, whether they are yours or with you? Your own children will not enter the scene for a long time, but get clarity up front.
The single dad who never married.
You are looking for what sort of dad is he. How is the relationship with the mom? There is a difference between vehemently complaining about her or eluding to some general dissatisfaction but overall co-parenting. You cannot overlook or explain away custody arrangements that greatly favor the mother; keep your eyes open.
The divorced man, with no kids.
How does he feel about kids? Does he want them with you? What led to his divorce? Does he seem at peace with the situation or is he angry?
The divorced dad with kids.
What is he looking for right now? He’s got a lot on his plate with an ex-wife and kids. How is their relationship? Is the custody reflective of an amicable co-parenting partnership?
*and rare, but worth including never married / no kids guy who has a thing for older women.
With the very few exceptions, this guy will not have a lot in common with you. Just have fun.
For every man, you want to know some basics.
Is he legally divorced? And whether divorced or not, you will want clarity as to how long has he been single. This very much does impact his mental state, even if he doesn’t think so. When was his last relationship? If he is too eager to date while separated or just got out of a relationship, he may not be in the best state to be meeting you because it takes time to process the end of relationships.
If you are not open or receptive to a relationship and are just looking to meet some guys and test the waters, then a guy who is recently single may work for you in this casual short term. Because he’s not in the best place to be or may not even be interested in committing and connecting. A recently single guy may be bringing up his ex-wife or ex-girlfriend a lot because he hasn’t processed yet.
And a lot of this information is free game to ask early on. Marital status can and should be determined immediately, prior to even going out on a date. You have a right to know.
Above all, it is important to clarify your intentions of dating with yourself.
Are you looking for just casual fun? Are you open and receptive to a potential relationship? There was a time when I absolutely was not open and receptive to a potential relationship; I was on a dating hiatus for my own mental health.
And how is your emotional state?
You will need to get yourself centered before you can start meeting men. If you start meeting men too soon, meaning before you have processed your new life, you will be making unconscious choices or choices from a place of need or fear.
The risk of diving in to dating too soon or without clarifying your intentions to yourself, simply stated, you will get hurt. You could get attached too soon or be too eager for affection or attention. In our early 20s, if a man could not get enough of you and showered you with attention and affection on a date, you could expect that very same attention – or level of investment – the following week. Most of us were seeking life long partners in our early 20s. Dating in your late 30s – early 40s, is a different situation. Everyone is in a different place and you need some time to pass while seeing someone to have a more clear understanding of what is or isn’t going on.
Attention from a man is reflective of how invested he is in you, which is why it is helpful to give him the space to show that interest.
I can 1000% assure you, if a man wants to call or text, he will.
Give him the chance to do it, so you can see his investment level before you enthusiastically are engaging and he’s looking at your text doing nothing.
In the initial stages, this means in texting, if he doesn’t answer your text, you must not text him again a few hours later. This is not your husband or best friend, where you can freely reach out regardless if they reply. Sure, he is busy. At some point he will stop, even if he has kids too and it’s after everyone is settled, that text will come. And if it doesn’t, that is a data point reflective of his interest level, so take note.
No man is too busy to eventually reply.
I have had firefighters text me in their trucks on the way to a call, reporters text from the anchor desk, pharm reps text in the middle of meetings … if they want to connect, even briefly, they will.
And this is what is hard about dating now, because just a week ago all of these men were eagerly engaging.
This is why you must give it some time; let it unfold. And allow the space for the man to show his interest. Don’t play games of course, if you really want to text or call him, do it. But be honest with yourself. Is it because suddenly you have something to share? Or because his last responses was one of the following:
And it has left you wanting more. I can ALSO assure you that men are not texting one word replies to leave you wanting more. When a man is interested in you, he will want to lock that down. He will throw caution to the wind, be vulnerable and open up, in hopes of garnering your attention
And also look at the quality of the text. Is it a real message of communication? Or is it offering so little the only way for the text conversation to continue is for you to re-engage? You cannot control what he does or how he proceeds with you. You can only control how you feel about yourself throughout this dating again experience!