Who better to give tips to men for dating after divorce than a therapist who has a huge patient population of divorced men? In his guest post, Licensed family and marital therapist, Jason Price offers advice to help make dating after divorce a little bit easier for men.
Dating After Divorce by Jason Price, LFMT
In my therapy practice I work with a lot of divorcing men who are trying to adjust to life after their divorce. One of the common themes that I encounter is that men want the companionship of someone else, but are scared of the process of dating. It often feels daunting, there is uncertainty about how/where to start, and then add to it how damaged he may feel from being divorced, many men avoid the process all together.
Recently a client said to me “I’ve been out of the game for 25 years, all of my friends are married, I feel like a loser since my wife left me, and you expect me to ask someone out.” Well, not exactly, there are some steps that one can take to make the process easier:
1) Develop your divorce story. By the time most men divorce they have felt beaten up by their spouse, their kids, and the court process. They are often bitter, angry and/or depressed. Their views on love and relationships may be shattered. To combat this, most men would be best served creating a narrative that puts a positive spin on things. Even if it was a horrible process and divorce wasn’t the desired outcome, the positive look can be something like “I put my all into the marriage, and even though this relationship didn’t work out, I know that I can be a good partner to someone”, or “we had many good years together, but as time went on we grew apart”. When you do start to date, you’ll feel more comfortable about your situation and be able to share with your date a story that is palpable.
2) Find people who understand divorce. Too many men rely on their married friends for advice. While it is always good to get support, only those who have been touched by divorce tend to truly get it. They understand the despair that it can cause and they will help you get connected to potential dating partners who are more likely to be patient with you as you are getting back into the dating pool. They are more likely to have single friends and be comfortable setting you up. If all of your friends are married, look for divorce support groups and mixers for divorcees.
3) Online Dating. While new and scary for almost every divorced man in a longer term marriage, once you get comfortable with the technology and the prospect of many people seeing your profile, it can be a useful way of getting back out there. Once you set up a profile (ask friends for help), what you are likely to witness is many people being interested in you, not being turned off by the fact that you are divorced, and that it feels really good to be communicating in the dating world.
4) Take it slow. Many men long for some of the comforts that were afforded in their marriage. (i.e. home cooked meals, laundry etc.) and that causes them to rush to find their next partner. Also, since many have lacked a connection with their spouse for some time, when they meet someone new they mistake the honeymoon phase for true love. It is important to be cautious, date a few different people at first, and not rush into a long term relationships.
While dating may seem daunting, it can be a very helpful part of the healing process. Having people to share time with and be interested in you can help you get back to being the person that you really want to be.
Thanks Jason! I of course have to put my two cents in and offer the woman’s perspective on this post. Regarding #1, “Develop your divorce story,” I think it is very very important. I can’t tell you the number of guys I talk to who when asked why they got divorced roll their eyes and then just start complaining about what a huge bit** their ex is. To a woman, this is the worst! As my dad always says, no one wants to hear it! AND, if you keep telling people all the details, YOU won’t heal, either. Jason is right that you need a “story.” Not a lie, just a polite couple of sentences that basically let people know you are moving on, that you aren’t playing the victim.
I also want to comment on #4, “Take it slow,” because I think Jason is dead on with this one. I find that if a guy likes a girl, he dives into the water head first, not even knowing how deep it is. And I understand that, because the guy probably hasn’t felt loved in so long and it feels really good to be liked and adored! But don’t confuse like with love. I truly believe it takes at least a year before people’s true personalities come out and the courtesy phase dies down. I”m not discouraging anyone to be happy and giddy about a new relationship. Just remember, you won’t know the girl for at least a year.
Jason Price is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Co-Director of Affiliates in Counseling, who has expertise working with couples during times of crisis. Whether it is the decision to stay together or divorce, dealing with extramarital affairs or other areas of conflict, he has had success helping couples identify the underlying problems in their relationship and develop a healthy life together. Learn more: http://affiliatesincounseling.net/our-clinicians/jason-price/