Following a separation or divorce, it can be tricky to get back into the dating game. Dating expert Charly Lester, who is the co-founder of Lumen, the dating app for over 50s, shares her advice on moving on.
One of the key tenets of dating is that you always need to focus on yourself before you focus on someone else. So make sure you’re in the right space to begin dating again, before you start meeting other people. If you’re not, it’s unlikely to be a fun experience for you or your date. A break-up can really knock your confidence, so make sure you are feeling solid and secure in yourself before joining the dating game again. You want to be feeling happy and confident in yourself, so that the next partner you attract is genuinely right for you.
Often people come out of a long term relationship and look for a very similar partner and relationship to the one they just left. However we all change as people, and if you’ve been with someone for more than a few years, it’s likely that you changed a lot during the course of the relationship. Who are you now? What do you need and want now? Your previous relationship didn’t work for a reason – can you work out what the issues were, and make sure that you don’t seek out the exact same things again? Keep an open mind and try dating a whole range of new people to see what works for you now.
This can be tricky, particularly if your date has gone through similar experiences as you, but try not to talk about your separation or divorce during early dates. It will just sour the atmosphere, and you should be looking forwards, not back. Use your friends as informal counsellors, not your dates. And if you find you really can’t stop bringing up your ex on first dates, then the reality is probably that you’re not in a space yet to be dating again.
Friends can make the whole online dating process so much more enjoyable – regardless of whether they are single themselves. Involve a friend right from the early stages of setting up your profile. They can be an honest sounding board when you are choosing your photos and writing about your hobbies and how you spend your time. You can check in with them when you start talking to potential matches and then when you plan dates, there is always someone who knows where you are and for you to debrief at the end of the evening.
One of the biggest complaints people have coming out of marriages or long term relationships is ‘he never let me do x’ or ‘she never let me do y’. If there is something you always wanted to do, but never had a partner for in the past, why not suggest it as a date idea? Active dates are a lot more fun than sitting opposite someone in a pub or restaurant, and they provide a lot more natural distractions in case nerves get in the way or conversation starts to dry up. And if you’re doing something you always wanted to do, then even if you don’t end up attracted to your date, you haven’t wasted your afternoon or evening.