What Is Dating After Divorce Really Like?

The big turn on after divorce is the idea of dating again. For some, being with someone new after separation is the thing that gets them excited and eager to get out of bed in the morning. For others though, the idea of dating after divorce, especially over 50, brings up inner fears and anxiety. It can be terrifying to think about being with a stranger, wondering, “What’s the chance of my dating a great person?” or “Will I find someone to love before I’m too old?” And the rules! The rules around dating change post divorce - both the rules the culture has for us and the rules that we have for ourselves! 

Where does one start with dating after divorce?

  • You start with healing yourself - and that takes as long as it takes. There are two people leaving a marriage which means there are two people who have some healing to do. Dating someone new doesn’t change who you are or what you’ve been through. Sure, a fresh conversation will be interesting and exciting and you may be distracted from the anger and resentments for a bit. But you will still be you.
  • Bring something interesting to the conversation - meaning, fill your mind with something other than the divorce. Your date doesn’t need to hear your saga. (NEWS FLASH: that’s a complete and utter bore!) Your date wants to know about your interests, the newest book you’re reading, an exciting project at work or something fun you’re doing in your free time. They’re looking to see if you’re interested in knowing them! They’re trying to figure out if you’re someone they want to spend Saturday afternoon with. Be someone they’d like to hang out with - there’s plenty of time to hear all about your history later!
  • Know your values - think about those core values you had before you got your heart broken and your self-esteem crushed. If those are unfamiliar, ask, “Who am I today?” “What really makes me tick?” Where’s the line between what you’re willing to settle for and what you won’t? In other words, know who you are before you start looking for someone to complete you. That’s too much of a responsibility for anyone to do! 
  • As well, know what you’re looking for - My friend Ellen teaches her clients about the “3 baskets” 1) the basket of things you don’t care about… i.e.: long or short hair? doesn’t matter. 2) the basket of things you won’t put up with … i.e.: no smoking. Need I say more? 3) the basket of things that are negotiable… work in banking or a social worker? Doesn’t matter as long as they’re working! Know where you’re willing to settle and where you won’t. Figure those things out before going on a date!
  • Your ability to approach dating as an adventure will go a long way to making it be exciting. It is an adventure! You’re older, wiser, more aware of the ups and downs of life. Dating today with the sheer number of people looking for true love offers your quest a lot. But it’s your attitude that’ll define the experience for you. What makes you think it should be quick and easy? You’re looking for a real partnership, not a new couch! Approach this with fortitude and curiosity. Be kind. Be choosy.
  • Dating today requires a lot of patience! You’ll need to learn how to navigate those high tech apps, swipes, Matches and deal with a lot of rejection. You’ll be going to things that may be new (College Fraternity parties aren’t the same as Speed Dating or Meet Ups.) There are many, many people out there looking for love! 
  • Finding a mate requires being healthy, sexy, and being in good shape. We all want sex (NEWS FLASH: at any age!) And you’ll have to have some semblance of your life together. No one can take on a wounded bird and heal them unilaterally. If that means hiring a coach, personal trainer or going to a nutritionist, consider these expenses part of an investment in your future. 
  • Choose to have LOVE work out - the many problems with dating after divorce is that you’ve got some deep scars and perhaps a few open wounds. Things are more complicated and you’re learning how to navigate being alone or being a single parent or the one who’s shouldering all the responsibility. It’s a lot. 

But optimism, hope, and faith are necessary ingredients not only to get you through and recover from divorce, they’re also part of believing in love. If you believe you’ll find someone to love who’s capable of loving you at any age, then you will. If you approach dating with fear and anxiety, consider that perhaps you’re not ready to date yet. You have plenty of time! 

We expect partnership. We want mutual respect. We want love, fidelity, kindness, character. If nothing else - Divorce teaches us that.

The “rules” around paying for dates or where you meet or when you meet totally depend upon you and your 3-baskets! Do you expect to be wined and dined? That’s your standard! Do you only do coffee dates before committing to fine dining? You decide. Polygamy? There are specific dating apps. Can she call you… Do you care? 

The beautiful thing about the psychology of dating after divorce is that you’re an adult responsible for your well-being and wanting to generously give to another human being. That’s fun. Being with another person is supposed to be fun. 

Dating after divorce means you’re ready to find true love. You deserve it and maybe now you’re even ready to give it. That’s what dating after divorce is really like. So when you’re ready, opt in for the adventure and jump out of bed in the morning eager and excited to find your future mate! 


If you want true love but are still settling, out of fear or neediness, reach out laura@laurabonarrigo.com. Settling doesn’t serve anyone!