06/10/2016 12:42 pm ET Updated Jun 11, 2017

Online Dating After Divorce Is Scary ... Here's Why You Should Do It Anyway


So yes, there was the guy who didn't have a job per se, but who made money by participating in medical studies. And there was the really handsome architect ... who drank way too much and then decided to take a whiz in the corner of the parking lot before laying a big, sloppy goodnight smooch on me. And, of course, there was the very polite man who was my age, but who reminded me of my ex father-in-law. (That was the night I figured out that if I said good night at the door in front of the restaurant, I could politely but firmly dash any expectations of a kiss.)

Those are the kinds of stories people love to cite when they declare "I could never do the online dating thing." But that's only one end of the spectrum.

What does the other end of the spectrum look like?

It looks like the lights coming on in the bar at 2:00 a.m. and you feel like you just sat down even though you've been there for four hours. It's your future fiance' (though you don't yet know this) saying "I could take you back to your car now, but I'm just enjoying your company so much ... do you want to go somewhere else?" It's getting a text right after you get home that says "I had a really great time. I hope you did, too."

At the other end of the spectrum, your world shifts.

The price of admission

Online dating after divorce can feel risky. Aside from personal safety concerns, you're in an emotionally vulnerable spot. You're putting yourself out there to be judged by strangers. You're stepping into the spotlight and proclaiming to all the world "I WANT TO LOVE AGAIN, AND TO BE LOVED."

Somehow, it can feel less scary to take a quieter stance ... like, say, letting your friends set you up. But here's the thing: Your friends will have good intentions, but usually "I know someone great for you!" means "I know someone who is also single and among the living!" After a setup or two, I quickly found out that I was going to need to take matters in my own hands.

I declared that I was out for super-big-time soul-mate style love. Yes, I used the phrase "soul mate" and I did so unapologetically. If that meant I had to date for years, then that's exactly what I would do.

A numbers game

Where are single people these days? Say it with me: online.

Sure, yes, you're right. There are pigs and scammers on online dating sites. But you know who else is on those sites? Lots of completely normal people just looking to make a connection with another human.

I gave myself a little pep talk. "Trish, numbers are one your side. With the divorce rate what it is, there should be plenty of people your, I mean 'our' age to date. Statistically speaking, the large percentage of these people are probably normal. Or normal-ish. After all, who's normal? Now weed through the weirdos and go find some lucky bastard to dazzle with your charm."

Yes, I do talk to myself just like that.

I also took inspiration from an unlikely place: a 13-year old boy.

That sounds creepy. Let me explain.

The wisdom of youth

Remember Sam from Love, Actually? In the movie, he's in love with a girl who doesn't know he's alive, but he decides to go for it anyway. He proclaims to his stepfather, "Let's go get the shit kicked out of us by love."

That scene had me jumping off the couch. "YES! Sam is so wise and brave for his age! Here's to youth and yearning!" And then I remembered that I was watching a romantic comedy ... set during Christmas, no less. Certainly a recipe for setting unreachable expectations.

But I allowed myself to be inspired anyway.

I figured that if I was going to shoot soul-mate high, the price of admission might be getting knocked around a little bit. It might mean getting rejected. It might even mean getting my heart broken.

And yes, all of those things happened. At times, I had to stay home a lick my wounds for a while. But the bruises and scars meant that I was in the game. I was in the arena instead of sitting in the stands. I had a shot.

After many perfectly pleasant dates with perfectly pleasant men ... many of whom were just not my cuppa tea (or I wasn't theirs) it took just one date to end my online dating career for good. One date to shift my world.

So take some advice from my buddy Sam: Get out there. Get the shit kicked out of you by love.