Dating can be challenging if suddenly you are rendered single – whether you are recently divorced or trying to juggle your new single parenting schedule or lost your spouse. ANISA HASSAN has some advice for those who are starting afresh
Each of us has our own path to travel when it comes to finding success in dating. You may have some circumstances that make your dating life a bit challenging. It may be that you‘re recently divorced and still trying to juggle your new parenting schedules; or, maybe you‘ve lost your husband or wife and after much grieving, you‘re ready to move on. Perhaps you have or have had a health problem that makes you a little nervous about dating. Whatever the case may be, never say never. Follow some advice and you can make dating under any of these specific circumstances more comfortable.
Dating after a divorce
After going through a divorce, there are lots of things to think about before you begin to date again. From my experience with the clients I have worked with, here‘s what helps people succeed in dating after a divorce.
Being positive is really important. Before you go on a date, think of things you can talk about so you don‘t end up talking about your ex. (And that doesn‘t mean spending your entire dinner talking about your kids, either!) You can ask questions. You can talk about your job, what you love to do on weekends, a recent trip you took and more.
Every now and then we hear from a client that their date said negative things about their ex. No one wants to hear you talk trash about your former spouse. It makes them feel like you aren‘t ready to be dating yet. It also scares them off. Expressing negativity, especially on a first date, implies that you are tangled up in a lot of drama.
Sure, your ex may have done some terrible things. But a date isn‘t a therapy session. You want to make a good first impression on your first date.
There are some constructive ways to talk about your divorce. Christine Hartman, a psychologist and author, has some advice:
- Very personal information such as why the marriage failed and the nature of your relationship with your ex should be saved for a later date when the two of you are more comfortable with each other. As Hartman puts it, your date wants to know about you, not your former marriage.
- Don‘t go into too much detail. Focus on what you learned and how it made you a better person. This decreases the chances of overwhelming your partner, she says.
- Be neutral when speaking about your past partner. If you criticize your ex, you risk sounding petty and emotionally involved. If you heap on praise, you sound as though you still have romantic feelings for them.
- Know what you want out of the relationship and what you‘re capable of. Be honest with yourself first, then with potential partners.
Getting back into the dating scene as a single parent
Some single parents get back on the dating scene with the hope of getting remarried and perhaps having more kids some day.
One single mom we spoke with said: Motherhood has made the search for the right guy way simpler.
She explains that the stakes are higher, now that she has a child. After a first date, she has asked herself, “Would he be a good father to my daughter?”
Although this question might be valid, and very tempting to ask it‘s not necessarily fair. Wondering if someone might be a good mom or dad after a first date is jumping too far ahead into the future. It is important to stay in the present.
Try to find out about the person sitting in front of you before you let your mind wander to the future. Your child is part of you, of course. But first dates are meant for exploration. So, explore the person you are with.
Jennifer Wolf, a writer for About.com and a certified parent coach, suggests that single parents create a list before they start dating.
Here‘s how Wolf suggests you make the list:
- In the first column record the qualities you consider absolutely necessary in the people you date.
- In the middle column write down qualities you see as somewhat necessary.
- Finally, make a column listing things that are not absolutely necessary.
For example, you might consider loving kids to be absolutely necessary, says Wolf. Being well-educated might be somewhat necessary, and being a fan of your favourite football team might be not absolutely necessary. One of our single dad clients, for instance, listed an enthusiasm and love for children as an important trait he‘d like his future mate to have. Clearly, he would have listed that in the absolutely necessary category. It is good to know these things about yourself as you begin dating.
Just remember: Thinking about someone‘s potential as a parent to your child on the first date is not fair to either of you. You will do yourself a favour by getting to know the person for who they are.
Anisa Hassan is the Managing Director and owner of It’s Just Lunch Asia with offices in Singapore and Bangkok. As an authority in dating and relationship, she has paired thousands of her clients on a fun and fulfilling first dates, with 75% success rates. Anisa has also authored a book “Guide to Dating in Asia” which will be released in September 2010. For more information on how she can help you, visit www.itsjustlunchsingapore.com.