Let’s face it, life didn’t turn out the way we expected. None of us dreamed we’d be 50-years-old, in our PJ’s on a Saturday night, with a martini and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, watching re-runs of the Bachelor wondering, “What the hell happened to my life?” We didn’t fantasize about chin hairs, gray roots and eyebrows gone wild, nor hoped for aching feet, crispy necks, and God forbid – peeing a little when we sneeze. But most of all, we didn’t plan on that empty space next to us in bed.
Yet here we are, 50 percent of us, with that pint of ice cream, a bottle of vodka and tweezers, telling ourselves “I’m done with men,” “I’m better off single,” “maybe I’ll get a cat!” Well, ladies, I’m here to tell you to step away from the kitty litter because life begins now. And you won’t believe the fun you will have because you, my dears, are going to start dating.
But P. Charlotte, I’m scared!
I know, it’s been a long time. The thought of dating after divorce terrifies you. The thought of kissing sends you into fits of anxiety. The thought of sex drops you into the fetal position, in the shower, as you rock back and forth (“sex” you ask? It’s that thing you did when you first got married. And you liked it). If you’re coming out of a divorce, chances are you’re lonely; chances are your self-esteem is sagging; chances are you kind of want to do that “sex” thing from way back when. Well, sweet friends, the only way to get from point A (you now) to point C (you married, coupled, or just getting laid), is to go through B (aka, you have to date).
But P. Charlotte, I haven’t dated in 20 years!
Neither had I. But when my kids flew the nest, my husband flew the coop with another woman. And after the subsequent year of crying, I found myself hurting, achingly solo, and allergic to cats. My mom, my friends, hell even my kids told me it was time to put away the cookie dough. Time to throw out the dirty PJs. Time to give up the Kettle One. It was time to start dating.
But P. Charlotte, how do I even get a date?
There are several ways to wrangle a rendezvous, and you should find what works for you. When my divorce was final, I was past the age of clubbing and hanging at bars. Blind dates arranged by well-meaning friends were few and far between (aka, 2 in 2 years). I joined “Meet-ups;” started hiking; even took salsa lessons. And while I grew legs of steel, I wasn’t finding success. That’s when two of my more experienced single friends dressed me up, teased my hair, took pictures, and put me on Bumble. And that’s when my second half began.
Online?! Oh, P. Charlotte, I can’t. No way!
Yes, you can. The paradigm for dating has changed since before you took those vows, and courtship has shifted primarily online. More than 80 percent of people dating do so online; more than 30 percent of marriages today start there. And for those who don’t work in the men’s department at Barney’s, online is one of the only non-boozy ways to meet guys. More importantly, there’s a veritable smorgasbord of dudes just waiting to lavish attention on you, and let’s face it, you’re hungry.
But P. Charlotte, I don’t know what to do.
You say “yes.” You get dressed. You have a glass of wine. Your manic text your girlfriends. You have another glass of wine. Then you Uber to your meeting place because you’ve had two glasses of wine (Note: Ubers also eliminate the awkward “kiss goodnight” scenario should it arise. Men get stage fright when they have an audience). I canceled my first date. He canceled the second. The third one didn’t show.
But then came date number 4. He was on time. He was kind. He smelled good. He listened to me when I spoke. Laughed at my jokes. Told me I was beautiful. And when he kissed me goodnight, my heart soared. He texted me good-night, told me he had fun, asked me out for the following weekend. Success! I was officially dating again, in my 50’s, post-divorce. And I didn’t pee myself once.
Where divorce is an ending, dating is a beginning. It means first kisses, heart emoticons, sweet nothings, and even sex. We get to feel hope, wonder, and those beautiful butterflies we thought had forever flown away.
You’ve endured divorce, kept your sh!t together and kept your kids fed. You are an @ss-kicking warrior in the prime of her life and at her sexual peak. So go out and get what you deserve. You’ve done the main course. You didn’t like it very much. Now it’s time for dessert. Eat well and enjoy.
Top 10 Things to Remember When you Start Dating Again After Divorce
- Get past the anger, and don’t date too soon. Nothing is more of a turnoff than negativity.
- Embrace your body and yourself. You are beautiful just the way you are. Confidence is sexy.
- You know that 10-page list of what you’re looking for in a man? Throw it out. Stay real.
- Keep an open mind. He may not be your type. You may fall in love.
- Don’t look for a new husband.
- Don’t rush.
- Let him talk (and for the love of God, don’t talk about your ex).
- Safety first (watch “Looking for Mr. Goodbar”).
- Avoid married men, unemployed men, and men without cars (aka, red flags).
- Have fun.
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