It can be hard to get back out there after a breakup or divorce. And while the landscape, including online dating, might look quite different from when you last dated, there are still some golden rules which apply.
Before we get into those its worth thinking about whether you are ready to date? If you find yourself still talking or thinking about your ex, you probably need more time to process your feelings before taking the plunge into dating. It is important to give yourself this time and space to heal so that you are open to a new relationship. You might benefit from talking through this with a good therapist who can help you through this.
Dating again, while scary and uncomfortable, can also be a lot of fun.
A couple of quick tips:
Let people know that you are dating. Friends can be a great source of suggesting potential dates. More traditional ways of meeting people are still completely OK. Online dating can feel overwhelming - there are so many options and all just a click or swipe away. Its also a great way to start to explore your options and connect with people who you might not otherwise meet. Experts recommend not spending too long talking online (1-2 weeks) before you meet to see if you have chemistry. Meeting somewhere public is the best option for safety reasons. During your date its great to ask open ended questions from your date and show your interest in what they are talking about. Do be aware that if someone sounds too perfect, they quite likely are. There are people out there taking advantage of others - friends and family members may be a good sounding board if you are unsure. Its also important to know that you shouldn't feel that you need to rush things. If someone is making you feel unsafe in any way, walk away.
So once you actually start dating, it can be difficult to discern who you can trust.
Dr John Gottman looked at trustworthiness in his research and found there are five criteria which can help you separate out the keepers from the duds.
Honesty - if someone is lying to you, walk away. Don't come up with excuses for their lies or question yourself. The same goes the other way - make sure you are honest (this does not mean airing all your dirty laundry, but rather being open and trustworthy yourself)
Transparency - if they are keeping you away from their family and friends, its a red flag. You want to make sure the person is an open book and are welcoming you into their life
Accountability - are they keeping their promises and following through with commitments?
Ethical actions - if you are uncomfortable with their morals, move along
Proof of alliance - its important to feel that the person you are dating has your back, so make sure that they take your best interests into account and not just act for their own self-benefit.
This is a brand new adventure! See it as journey, you are likely to not only meet new people, but also learn new things about yourself. Have fun!
Disclaimer: This post is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be taken as counselling/therapy advice or used as a substitute for such. You should always speak to your own counsellor.