By Laura Lifshitz
Going out on the first date after divorce or separation is quite a doozy for most people. Think of it as like a cocktail of emotions—a dash of excitement, a sprinkle of dread and a dousing of nerves—and voila—you’ve got the first date after divorce.
Of course, the situation is different for everyone. If you’re going out with an ex or an old friend, your “spidey senses” won’t be as tingling since the person is familiar. If you’re venturing out with an online date or app match, chances are your nerves are in overdrive because, let’s face it: the online experience is a kooky one.
You might even feel a little guilty that first date out, even though you shouldn’t. Guilt over moving on or guilt over being so excited about a date and maybe not caring at all about your ex.
Don’t be surprised if your emotions end up being not what you expected, because everyone has a different journey and path when finding love after divorce.
So, when you make that time and set that first date on your calendar, here are some things to remember, pay attention to and consider when you head out the door:
1. Just Have Fun & Worry About Nothing Else
Don’t worry about whether you will like the person and have a spark. Don’t worry about where this could head. Just have fun. That’s all that matters. Just see the date as an experience and chance to get to know another person. Do not let your imagination run away with you.
2. See It As An Experiment
See it as an experiment. What will this person be like? How will the atmosphere be? What will it feel like to talk to a new person? Just roll with it and try to see it as something you’re “testing out” for the moment.
3. Keep Expectations Low
Even if you’re about to go out with an ex who you were crazy over in high school, you may not have that lovin’ feeling this time around. Again, do not envision your future children, your future dates or future anything! Just go and see what happens.
4. Be Easy On Yourself
Make the first date out of the gate an easy one. Try coffee, a drink or lunch. Something low pressure. If you set the bar too high, you may bail on the date. I know that there were many times I canceled dates due to my own nerves. Don’t let that be you!
Also, it’s okay if you get out there and decide you’re just not ready. It’s okay to say—you know what? I didn’t have that much fun, so maybe I need to take some more time still.
Whatever you do or however you feel, don’t pressure yourself.
5. Keep Your Eyes Open
If something feels weird about that person, make a mental note of it. Chances are, your weird feelings are telling you something. Don’t be afraid to ask questions—although you won’t want to grill the person to death like a sergeant— because if something doesn’t quite feel or sound right, you should follow up on that feeling.
Pay attention to how the person treats others around you while on the date—strangers, the elderly, wait staff, etc. How someone treats someone else, especially those that don’t have anything to give to them, is rather indicative of a person’s nature.
6. It’s Ok to Feel Many Emotions
Excited? Nervous? Even sad?
Having a bunch of emotions about a first date is not unusual. When you do notice a particular feeling, make a note of it and ask yourself why you may be feeling that way. Also, it’s okay to let the feelings go and not hold onto them. This is a new beginning for you and new beginnings always come with a bunch of feelings, especially when it comes after something as difficult as divorce.
7. Take From The Experience
However it goes, whether amazing, good, so-so or absolutely awful, take a lesson from the experience.
Did you simply just get your feet wet? Did you learn what questions to ask or not ask on a date? Did you learn that maybe, lunch dates are still too much for you and you’d prefer to have coffee next go-round?
Just make sure you get something from the experience that is positive—even if it’s “I learned to be more selective with the dates I choose for next time.”
Dating after divorce can be complicated, but you don’t have to let it get too muddled. Stay positive, stick with the moment, and keep your eyes and ears peeled. Your instinct is usually smarter than you think!
About the Author
Laura Lifshitz is a pint-sized, battery-operated writer, comedienne, single mother and chocolate fanatic. A former MTV personality and Columbia University graduate, you can find her work in many places, like the New York Times, DivorceForce, Mom.Me, Women’s Health, Worthy, Working Mother and numerous other sites. Follow her on Facebook and her own website, frommtvtomommy.com.