When you’ve woken up seeing the same face for the last 10, 20, or 30 years, a divorce is a jarring experience. Whether you were unwilling to part ways with your former spouse or you’re savoring your newfound freedom, getting back into the dating game can be a challenge. Many people in their forties, fifties, and sixties struggle to define themselves outside the context of their old relationship and meet new people. When you’re ready to jump back in the game, here are a few helpful tips to get you started.
Take Some Time, and Get Some Help
If you’re anxious about being alone, it’s easy to want to find someone to get involved with as quickly as possible. But treating a divorce this way is rarely the best way forward. You’ve got too much baggage: confusion, anger, sadness, frustration, and other unresolved feelings are common. That’s rocky footing to start any kind of relationship other than a rebound.
Instead, take some time to focus on yourself. Consider seeing a counselor or support group to help you work through issues you may be facing. Take stock of where you are in your life. Do you need to make more friends? Is it time to rediscover a hobby? Have you let yourself go, and need to get back to the gym? Get yourself on a stable, happy footing before you invite a new partner into your life.
Get Clear About What You Really Want
Many times, our earliest romances are a product of happenstance. We meet someone, and after a whirlwind romance, we’re married with a house and a kid on the way. Sometimes it works out, but many times it does not. (Hence, I’m writing this article!). As older people with more experience, we have the luxury of being more deliberate about what we’re looking for. Think first about the life you’d love to have. Do you see yourself jetsetting with an educated and well-traveled partner? Are you looking for a homebody that will join you for gardening and treasure family dinners and movie nights?
While I’m not necessarily advising a list straight out of a rom com, I will suggest that it’s easier to find the right person when you know what you’re looking for. Think in terms of compatibility and general lifestyle choices. When these are aligned, long-term happiness tends to follow.
Don’t Be Afraid of Technology
There are many ways to meet someone new. But the truth is that technology is one of the easiest. For people easing back into the dating scene, it’s also one of the most efficient. Online dating sites let you quickly assess whether you find someone physically attractive. Is their profile entertaining or grating? You can skip over anyone that you don’t find appealing. Finally, online chat sites and senior dating online chat rooms make it easy to talk to new friends and potential partners.
It’s easy to test out your style and approach, to see what resonates and where you may need work. Don’t be afraid to take what you learn and find ways to build on that? Need to be more expressive? Check out an art class or standup comedy. Ready to really shake things up? Try an adult ed class in sexuality or flirting. Until you experiment, you won’t know what you need.
The good news is that it’s never been easier to meet new people. Don’t rush into anything, take the time to figure out what you want, and then get out there and try things. Even if it takes a while to meet the love of your live, you’re guaranteed to have adventures and make some great friends along the way.
Editor’s Note: Carrie St. John is a divorced 60-something who also happens to be a therapist. Given her own experience, she’s spent the last 10 years figuring out how to give divorcees the tools to have great relationships after 50. She’s delighted to announce that she’ll soon be marrying Bob, who she met online.