Six weeks after my separation I created a dating profile on Plenty of Fish. I mean, damn, if he could do it while we were married then I could do it after the split, right? I went on my first date and we immediately hit it off. This man was handsome, charming, and funny. We very quickly became intoxicated by each other. To be honest, he made me feel like a woman again. He awoke parts of me that had been dead for so long. He was spontaneous and always up for anything. He was fierce and gentle and loving and kind. He was exactly what I had been missing for all those years.
Except, he wasn’t. While my heart was doing the happy dance, my brain was telling me to wake up. Was he good to me? Yes. Was he good for me? No.
We spent a year together, on and off. My heart and my brain fighting to determine what was best for me. You see, he was 10 years my senior and riddled with his own demons that I thought I could fight for him. My codependency waxing and waning. My own inner demons ignoring the red flags just to keep what “felt” good intact.
While I struggled with the war of heart and brain, my daughter suffered. I protected her as much as I could from the heartbreak I endured from her father, but neglected to shield her from the back and forth of the relationship that followed.
I dated in between some, during the “off” times I would get back up on the site, find someone to help me pass the time, and then ghost on them when I felt a pulling back to him. Spending all this time focusing on these men – trying to fill a void where my heart was not whole. Not only was it disastrous for my well-being, but I was literally just an asshole. Who does that? Ghosting is shitty, and I’m guilty.
I’ve learned a lot about myself over the last couple of years. One of which is that no man can make me whole. I don’t need fixing and I don’t need anyone to fix. These aren’t new concepts, in fact you can find a gazillion pinterest quotes related to them at your fingertips. But knowing it, hearing it, and actually living through it are entirely different concepts.
For what it’s worth, I still don’t believe “not dating” is the answer.
I’ve created a list of dating tips following any separation/impending divorce. Stuff I learned the hard way. You probably won’t listen if you’re a stubborn ass hot mess like I was, but I’ll list it anyway.
11 Dating Tips Following Separation:
- Go On The Date: I heard somewhere that you should wait 2 years to start dating again after divorce. I say that’s crap. Get dressed up. Do your make-up. Flirt. Feel beautiful and desirable. Those are things most of us missed while we were married. It’s OK to feel like a woman again.
- …..But not at the expense of your people: I was so busy dating that I would cancel on my friends or family because I wanted that feeling. That giddy, high school girl feeling. Fuck that. Your people are going to be the ones to get you through this mess. They deserve some of your focused time, love and attention too.
- Go slow: I was so used to having my significant other around every day that it just felt natural to move in that direction quickly. But there’s no need! It’s perfectly OK to see someone you’re dating a couple of times a week. Eventually it may grow into something deeper and meaningful, but let it get that way naturally.
- Beware of the dick pics: Seriously, it’s not flattering. Just block and move on.
- Don’t Take it so Seriously: Not every guy you go on a date with is “The One”. Sometimes they can end up to be friends, or good for networking.
- Don’t be offended when they don’t call or text: Take it from a serial ghoster. (Did I mention I’m an asshole and I feel really ashamed of this?) If they don’t call or text it most likely isn’t about you. It’s their own bullshit they’re working through.
- Explore your sexuality: If you’re anything like me, you had no idea what you were missing out on until you got back out there! Sex is fun. Seriously. Solo or in a pair. Not just in the bed, but everywhere!
- Don’t forget to be safe: Remember those sex ed classes in high school? I know, I know, it was so long ago. But seriously, wrap it up, mmmK?
- Meet the kids: I’m still up in the air on this one. On one hand, I say do it, but in a group environment and as friends. That way if they fall off the face of the Earth, the kids won’t care so much.
- Don’t ignore the red flags: Whatever they are, whatever your gut is telling you, listen. And follow through.
- HAVE FUN: Seriously. Just do it.
I’m sure I could add a dozen more, but these are what came to mind personally while sitting here. Most people reading are like, “Holy shit, I’d never do that!” But I assure you, I didn’t think I would either. We become crazy people after separation grasping for any dose of normalcy as possible and neglecting the fact that together is no longer normal.
Let me know if you have any to add!
One Flawsome Momma