When we said our wedding vows or made our commitments to our partners we never imagined that one day we'd be facing separation and divorce. We never imagined having to date again. That was my experience anyway. Yet, after the ending of a 20-year marriage, I picked up the pieces again, licked my wounds and decided that I did want to date again however weird and uncomfortable it might feel to do so in the beginning.
I've experienced the highs and the lows, the laugher and the tears and I'm glad I did because I met someone new and we're very happy together thank you very much! How different my life now feels.
So what did I learn and what words of wisdom can I share with you if you're feeling awkward, unsure, or frankly terrified? Here are a handful of things I came to realize whilst dating after my divorce.
- Decide what you want to get out of online dating. If you're looking for a partner, be honest with yourself and make that clear in your profile. If you're looking for friendship and a bit of fun, say that too. There is no point in falling for someone who's looking for different things than you. It's just not going to work and you'll end up hurt and disillusioned.
- Know your values, even before you've completed your first online dating profile. What's important to you? What do you look for in life and in a relationship. This isn't about a list of requirements expected of a potential date by the way! This is about you and what you hold dear.
- Enjoy yourself, have fun! Some people treat their dating as another career! Lighten up, enjoy the process. Don't take it or yourself too seriously and you'll meet some great people along the way.
- Take nothing personally. This is really important. You can read all the horror stories online ... remember good stories tend not to sell as well as bad ones! You'll be approached by people who've not really read your profile, you'll be contacted by people who are rude, you'll be liked and winked at all the time. Take nothing personally. You get to choose who you'd like to respond to or approach. Remember too that many you contact won't respond (if good manners are one of your core values this will be a challenge!) Simply move on!
- Have the right positive attitude before spending your time on dating websites. If you go into it with a heavy, bruised heart with negative inner dialogue you're going to struggle. At the same time don't go into it naively imagining that you'll meet your ideal match immediately. These things take time.
- Write a compelling and irresistible profile. So many profiles are bland and boring so it's actually easy to stand out from the crowd and it'll make all the difference to your experience. (I'm here to help too, it's what I love doing.)
- Be truthful at all times. If you're 50 don't say you're 40. If you smoke and get no exercise don't say that you're into healthy living. It might seem obvious but you'd be amazed! Honesty is one of my core values and the foundation for a good relationship.
- If you're nervous about meeting up, spend time emailing and letter writing. It's what my partner and I did and it was wonderful to see our relationship develop as we asked questions of each other ranging from the lighthearted to the more penetrating.
- Be open minded. You never know what you might learn about yourself and life by dating someone you'd not have looked at in your past relationships! There is a richness added to life when we step out of our comfort zones.
- Invest in some excellent photographs of you looking relaxed, happy and at ease. It will make all the difference ... NO selfies.
What positive things have you learned from online dating in midlife?