If we want to get better at something we have to know where we're screwing up, and after kicking this one around a little it appears that the Big Six post-divorce dating errors go something like this, in no particular order:
- Pushing yourself to start dating again before you're ready.
- Making decisions based on hoping he'll like you/ "getting" him to like you, instead of giving a good hard look at whether you like him.
- Not knowing when to cut bait: If you know it isn't going to work, don't torture the poor guy or try to let him down easy.
- Expecting the new guy to be your ex-husband, for better or, usually, worse.
- Taking each individual date too seriously: it's only a dinner/drink/cup of coffee! There's always more coffee!
- Not being clear on what you're looking for.
And as a special bonus seventh mistake, my favorite: Being too clear on what you're looking for.
There are an awful lot of women who've — spent? wasted? it all depends on how you look at it — an awful lot of time thinking they knew exactly what they wanted, until the process of winnowing out mismatches and finding the occasional surprise success helped them forge a far clearer picture of what makes an appropriate partner, and it isn't always who they thought.
My faithful correspondent Charlotte, who's 43 and darling and has been meeting some decent men online, says, "I've felt a progression in my dating since my divorce. It took me a long time to loosen up and not be so worried that I'd never find anyone again. That was my problem at first— I was used to being part of a couple and wanted to be coupled again.
But then nobody I met ever met my requirements. I think that now I'm more open to dating different types of people and not being so worried about where things will lead. It still feels very teenagerish at times, but there's nothing wrong with a little teenagerish."
Myrna, who dated for ages before she met her husband in an online discussion forum (she posted this comment in another online discussion; as a mother of young kids who aren't in daycare I'm all about the online discussions), says using the personals led to an unexpected epiphany: "It reminded me after years and years of not meeting anyone who acted interested that there were actually a hell of a lot of fairly decent men out there who were really interested in me.
I got very good, very articulate responses to my ad, most of them not from academics, which was (surprise!) who I'd been able to meet easily. It was interesting to think about how I would fit with a business professional, or an army medic, or a lawyer."
Did she marry an army medic? Of course not, she married a programmer, like all my other friends. But it was an interesting thought experiment, and one I urge upon you, dear readers, if you haven't already undertaken something similar.