You're ready to start dating -- or maybe you already have some dates lined up. We know it can be a bit nerve-wracking if you've been out of the dating scene for a while. For many it brings up memories of adolescent angst. In our book, Love For Grown-Ups, we interviewed a lot of women who had re-married and they all had stories about how important it was to get back into the dating scene after your divorce. Here are some of their tips.
1. Don't think that you're too old and any guy you meet will want someone ten years younger. You're a mature woman with interests and achievements. You're open to experiencing new things. You have a lot to offer and you want to be with a man who appreciates who you are. He wants the same thing in a date that you do -- to meet someone who is good company and who he can enjoy being with. (If he pines for a teeny-bopper he's not for you.)
2. Tell your kids you're starting to date. It's a good idea if you have grown children living at home to let them know you're going to be dating. Sometimes grown children react badly to the news and the man. It may be a sense of loyalty to the father. They may resent you for "leaving" them emotionally. And little kids can sometimes have temper tantrums when mom is going out. It's probably best to meet your date somewhere outside the home, at least in the beginning. You don't need to deal with moody or crying children when you're just getting to know one another.
3. Be ready for that first date. When you're ready to date, make sure you look your best. Feeling prepared gives you confidence and that confidence allows you to relax and focus on the dating experience.
4. Think about what's important to you. You would like to meet a man who is considerate, interesting and interested in you. You want great chemistry and a good companion, so plan to be all those things for him. You know a little bit about him already, concentrate on learning more.
5. Don't make snap judgments. Everyone is nervous on a first date. Try to make the first date something you'll both enjoy. Go to a movie and out for coffee. The movie will give you something to talk about if you're having trouble making conversation.
6. Don't decide he's not right for you until you've been out on a second date. Give both of you a chance. See him a second time. You'll both be more relaxed, and you'll be able to tell if he's a "possible."
7. Put the iPod, iPad, pager, android, cell phone away.
If you have a baby sitter and need to know if you get a call, alert your date before the evening starts. Put the phone on vibrate so you can check it, but whatever you do, don't answer it unless it's an emergency.
8. Don't get to know one another by re-hashing your history. You may be furious with your ex, and as much as we know it's important to vent, don't do it to the new man in your life. He has a history too and he's probably got some unhappy stories as well, but playing therapist or sounding board to one another is no way to create a foundation for a relationship or even for just a couple of dates. Keep your bitching for your girlfriends. And don't let him unload on you about his ex. A good way of handling an awkward moment is saying something like, "Telling each other stories about our exes won't change anything and I'd rather know more about you."
9. If he's going to be in the picture and you have grown kids, set some ground rules.
If you're seeing a lot of your new beau and he comes to dinner or he wants to take your family to the movies, tell the kids they need to behave in a grown-up manner when he's around. Tell that there have been many times you might not have liked their friends, but you were always polite to them and you expect the same courtesy.
10. Remember, if he isn't right for you there will be someone else. If things don't work out be open, try new things, and take any opportunity to make new friends. Always go on blind dates. The Garter Brides believe in romance and we've seen people make wonderful, happy lives together, so don't give up. Always keep that in mind and as we say in Love For Grown-Ups, "one date can change your life."
If you recently met someone special, how did you meet and how did you make it work?
Ann Blumenthal Jacobs, Patricia Lampl and Tish Rabe are the authors of Love for Grown-ups: The Garter Brides' Guide to Marrying for Life When You've Already Got a Life, a relationship guide for women over 35 on how to find Mr. Right, marry and find life-long happiness. The Garter Brides are a sisterhood of women who got married later in life and wore the same garter at their weddings! They offer tried and true advice.