The Garter Brides know how hard it can be to navigate the ups and downs of a grown-up life. After a divorce, you're probably feeling shell-shocked, lacking confidence and angry. And on top of that, you feel pressure to "get back out there."
In "Love For Grown-Ups," we interviewed countless women about their dating experiences, and our Facebook fans have also shared their stories on how they let their anger go so they could feel happy again. Many people will be quick to offer you advice on what to wear, what to say and what to do when you start dating again, but there's more to it than that.
The Garter Brides found a common thread in every woman's dating experience -- they had to give up feeling angry about past loves and disappointments. Their attitude was more important than their haircut or the length of their skirt in their dating success. Time after time, women told us of their struggle to leave their anger at the door when they got back out there. It can be very difficult not to blame every new man you meet for the real and imagined sins of men from your past. You want the new man you've met to take a chance on a fresh start with you -- do the same for him.
Remember the past is the past -- concentrate on creating a happy and fulfilling future. Do the inside work. Are there positive things you haven't been doing for yourself that you could be doing? One woman we interviewed for the book told us, "I cared for myself through exercise, yoga and meditation, and worked hard to process my divorce. When I was ready to date again, I felt more developed as an individual and ready to relate to someone on a deeper level." Take the time to be good to yourself. If you feel you are seriously depressed, seek professional help.
If you need to vent (don't we all!?), save it for your girlfriends -- be positive when you're on a date. Spending a date talking about your nightmare of a divorce will not move a relationship to another level. That's what your girlfriends are for. Set up a movie night, open a bottle of wine, pop some corn and watch some fabulous revenge fantasy flicks like "It's Complicated," "The First Wive's Club," "The War of the Roses," "Something's Gotta Give," "Crazy, Stupid, Love" -- you get where we're going with this. It's not going to sell on a date, but it's a great girls' night in!
Stay clear of friends who are really down on men. Try steering the negative conversations with these friends in new directions, focus on doing activities together (you may meet someone!) or if necessary limit your contact. You want to feel positive about your future -- so hang with people who make you feel that way.
Build your confidence -- through your work, your volunteering, perhaps going back to school. Emotions are contagious. Happiness and confidence are attractive -- aren't they the qualities that you look for in a man? "Do things that make you happy," one Garter Bride said. "If you're doing things that make you happy, it will shine out from you." Take a class, take scuba lessons, learn French, Italian cooking -- have fun! Being bitter and angry doesn't do you any good. Even if you're justified in how you feel, and we know you are, it won't get you a happier life. An inability to get past this can cut your chances for finding love. And love is what you want and deserve.
Living well is the best revenge. And remember, one date can change your life!
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 on how to have the love and life you want.