Dating Post-Divorce: Navigating the Online Scene

Dating Post-Divorce: Navigating the Online Scene

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Welcome to the month of love. Last month, I wrote about not being seduced by January’s messages, one of which is that you need to be coupled. You don’t. But if you are interested in finding love, you’re not alone. In fact, match.com reported that its membership increases by 40% in January and February.    

Dating, online or offline, is hard regardless of life stage, but it can be especially difficult after going through a divorce. This is a topic I know well, and when I felt ready to give it a go, I found myself feeling apprehensive. After all, the last time I dated was in my early 20s, so I felt like I really didn’t know how to date like a grown-up (whatever that means) nor did I know how to date online. But I did it, and I continue to do it, and I’m here to tell you that with a few simple guidelines, it doesn’t have to be as hard as I originally thought.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, entering the dating waters after a divorce is an entirely new experience. One, you’re a different person. You’ve been through marriage, maybe kids, and now divorce. Two, the rules of dating change over time. Boy do they change. Before I was married, we didn’t have ghosting, icing, simmering, or benching (just to name a few).

How can a newly single person stay sane while they look for love online? Here are 5 suggestions to make it easier:

1. Don’t personalize anything.
While it may seem like a personal affront when someone doesn’t “like” you or email you back, try not to take it personally. They don’t know you, and you don’t know them. It just wasn’t meant to be. Don’t attach your self-worth to anyone, let alone someone you don’t know.

2. If someone suddenly ghosts you, be thankful. I know it’s confusing and hurtful but remember that this type of behavior is how they operate. It’s better to know it now than after you’re more invested.

3. Watch your self-talk. Are you telling yourself that “It’ll never happen. I’ll never find anyone!” or “Everyone on here is a loser”? Notice how you feel when you tell yourself this over and over. It doesn’t feel good, does it?

4. If you notice your current strategy isn’t working, change it. Do your pictures need an upgrade? What about your summary? Online dating is about romantic branding: what does your brand say about you? Is it the right message?

5. Notice when you’re getting lost in your head. This one is huge. It’s really easy when you’re dating online to overuse texting and emailing for communication. Sure, these are easy ways to communicate, but for those who tend to be anxious, it’s easy to obsess about a text message by analyzing what it meant or to interpret something the wrong way. If you notice you’re starting to obsess about something, that’s your cue to take an action to come back to the present. What’s your go-to way to do this? Taking some deep breaths? Going for a walk? Logging off? Yoga poses? Playing with your dog/cat? Whatever it is, do it.

The bottom line is that staying sane while dating online requires us to be mindful of our thoughts. Remember that you’re never alone! As always, if you’d like to talk, contact me. Together, we can work through the online dating world.

About the author

Joanna Hardis, LISW, is a cognitive behavioral therapist in Shaker Heights, Ohio, focused on helping parents with the hardest job on earth. A mother of three herself, Joanna combines years of everyday parenting experience with professional training in the areas of anxiety; changing family dynamics, such as divorce; and obsessive-compulsive and eating disorders all in an effort to support, coach and empower parents of behaviorally challenging kids (which is pretty much all of them, right?). Joanna earned her undergraduate degree at Cornell University in New York and a master’s degree from Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University.

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