In the process of going through a divorce, it's likely you will receive a lot of advice about legal issues, finances, custody, how to "stick it" to your soon-to-be ex, and so on.
But the one subject no one ever discusses is how to avoid being a desperate dater. When the divorce dust settles and you feel ready to dip your big toe into the dating pool, you are often not prepared to encounter the desperation of dating -- either in yourself or in those you choose to date.
I've been desperate and I've dated desperate men. After my divorce, I met Brian at a party hosted by mutual friends. I was instantly attracted to him and thrilled when he asked me out to dinner for the following week. We met at a restaurant and during the course of the evening I kept telling myself how perfect he was for me. He was divorced and had a teenage daughter. In my mind I was already envisioning the three of us enjoying fun family events and holidays. I was so filled with hope and promise for the future.
When Brian called to ask me out for a second dinner date, I giddily said, "Of course, I'd love to. But instead of going out, I'd like to cook dinner for you." He accepted my offer and I proceeded to work so hard to impress him with my domestic abilities. I really wanted him to like me so I spent hours cooking a gourmet dinner and creating a romantic ambiance. Again, I thought the evening was magical and we were destined to be together.
We went out on a third date and a few days later he called to tell me that I was a very nice person, but he couldn't see me anymore. He said his job kept him very busy and he didn't really have time for a relationship. He said he sensed that I wanted more than he did.
I was shocked and hurt. How could he reject me so quickly? I cried when he gave me this bad news. Crying after only 3 dates -- what was wrong with me? To ease the pain of rejection, I told myself he must have had a girlfriend. But maybe he just didn't like me or maybe he thought I was too desperate. The truth is I was desperate. I didn't want to be alone again for the holidays and I just wanted to be in a relationship. Sure, I had girlfriends to hang out with, but it just wasn't the same as being in a relationship.
Years later (and still alone), I met Mr. Desperate on an online dating site. It was my first online dating attempt and I was very nervous. We agreed to meet at a restaurant and I arrived first. With my eyes fixated on the door, I cringed when he entered the restaurant carrying one long-stemmed yellow rose. I was instantly turned off. Why was this stranger bringing me a rose....he doesn't even know me.
The next hour seemed like the longest hour of my life. Over an appetizer and drinks I learned he was recently divorced and disliked the single life. He told me he cancelled plans with friends just to meet with me. Many times during our conversation he made reference to us going on future dates and doing things together as a couple. He even discussed us spending the holidays together. The holidays were four months away! He painstakingly pointed out all the things he thought we had in common and was trying so hard to determine if I liked him. Mr. Desperate came on way too strong and scared me off. He was probably a really nice guy, but I was too uncomfortable to ever see him again.
So how do you know if you are a desperate dater or are dating someone desperate? Here are some of the warning signs:
• Tries to rush the relationship instead of letting it progress naturally. Insists on doing "couple like" activities and meeting family members too soon.
• Has a sense of neediness and must feel liked and accepted quickly
• Brings up the topic of sex on the first or second date
• Exhibits clingy behavior and panics if phone calls are not returned in a timely manner or if the relationship proceeds at a slow pace
• Craves compliments and often fishes for them
• Always available and willing to drop everything and everyone to accommodate the relationship
• Doesn't like to be alone, especially on weekends and holidays
• Discusses the subject of money too soon (beware the "gold digger" or the person who uses money to buy love)
• Needs a "mom or dad replacement" to help care for the kids
• Is on the rebound and needs to feel desired and validated
It's common to feel desperate during our most vulnerable times which include a divorce or painful breakup. If you are feeling desperate, consider it may not be the best time to seek a new relationship. Desperate dating will likely attract the wrong person into your life. Give yourself time to heal your heart and emerge a stronger, wiser individual. A conscious awareness of desperate dating can help to avoid relationship mistakes.