11/22/2010 10:32 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Post Divorce, Date Outside Your Norm

Whenever I go clothes shopping I end up in the black T-shirt section. Oohhh this one is so soft. This one has the perfect sleeve length. What a cute neckline! I convince myself the small details make each shirt different enough to warrant buying and then go home to find I already have a million black T-shirts. This is sadly how many of us date, sticking to the same type of person over and over again give or take a detail, and it often leaves us stuck in unfulfilling and unhealthy patterns.

My ex-husband was a charming, snarky, intelligent, schluby, struggling-actor, non-religious Jewish guy. Most of my boyfriends before him fit that exact mold. I was attracted to men who were emotionally distant, very funny, hoodie-wearing dreamers. And when I was with them I locked myself into my own persona, an also emotionally distant, type-A, neurotic, nothing-is-too-sacred-to-joke-about girl.

I dated this same type of guy over and over again until I married one. Then, two years later after my divorce, when I forced myself to take a look at my patterns, I decided to stay away from the black T-shirt section and force myself to meet different types of men. It started out as a kind of scavenger hunt. I specifically went out into the world, (bars, grocery stores, gyms, parties, coffee shops) wanting to meet certain types of different men and date outside my race, religion, political party, industry and five-mile radius.

Once I decided to open myself up and make it a point to stop dating hoodie-wearing, chronically sarcastic Jewish guys, my world changed and interesting people came out of the woodwork. My life became a Benetton ad. I dated an African American football player, a Korean stunt man, a conservative suit and tie wearing lawyer, a Catholic construction worker, a Republican homicide detective, a gorgeous soap star, and even a lesbian.

With each of these new relationships I became a more layered and balanced person, who had much more to offer than the usual script in my head. Dating a professional athlete and a stunt man instead of just intellectual types made me realize that keeping the body active is just as important as keeping the mind active. Dating both blue collar and white collar guys gave me an appreciation for jobs outside the starving-artist realm. And dating the lesbian confirmed I was not a lesbian, but it forced me to confront some of my glitches in communication. Some of these relationships lasted 3 dates, and some 3 months, but by branching out I realized I was selling myself short by keeping my dating pool so small.

So I challenge you, especially after a divorce, to not play it safe and just start dating another version of your ex. Sadly second marriages have an even higher divorce rate than first marriages because patterns are just repeated instead of smashed. So start trying on red T-shirts and green T-shirts. Or even a vest. You never know what will be the perfect fit.