Dating after divorce in your 30s isn’t easy. It was tricky when you were in your 20s, with no luggage of your marriage behind you. And starting over after divorce at 30 is even harder.
Dating Pitfalls After Divorce in Your 30s
It can be a real challenge to get back in the dating game after surviving a divorce. There are a few reasons for that, according to Kelly Campbell, a professor of Psychology. The first is a social stigma that divorce creates in people’s minds. According to Campbell, on average, in America, women get married at 27 and men at 29.
So being divorced in your 30s can make people wonder if something is wrong with them. The older you get, the fewer single people you can find around. And if most of your friends are already coupled up, there won’t be as many possibilities to date someone in your social circle. In addition, your friends being in relationships puts extra pressure on you to find somebody to go out with, too. Nevertheless, if the previous marriage was short and you are able to join a cohort of single people that you used to empathize with, things won’t be so bad.
So yes, dating after divorce is difficult after a certain age. But who says it’s impossible? With these expert tips, it will become more straightforward and more exciting for you!
Tip 1: Start Whenever You Are Ready
There is no measure to say for sure when you are ready. Psychologists claim that it takes about a year to recover after a breakup and be ready to build a new relationship. But it’s very subjective. It can be a month or 3 years for you. You need to listen to yourself regarding this matter.
Don’t be pushed by other people or the feeling “Oh my God, I am going to be 40 in … years, I need to speed things up”. Rushing to find a new partner may contribute to dating issues after divorce in your 30s, so trust your intuition.
“It’s usually clear when you’re not ready,” says a therapist Susan Pease Gadoua. So if you don’t know if you are ready, then you’re probably not. If it makes you feel sick to think about going out with someone, you are not ready. But if you invite the idea of a new relationship, it might be a good time to start. After all, you can always come back to the “no-dating mode” if you don’t like it.
Tip 2: Act Despite Your Fears
We always connect dating with anxiety and fears. And your divorce experience just adds to that. You’ve been through the loss of a relationship and possibly even betrayal - feeling afraid in this situation is only natural. You don’t have to rush into dating in your late 30s after divorce as there’s no need to build a relationship for its own sake. You can start small - go to parties at your friends’ houses, tell a few people you are open to new acquaintances. Tip-toeing, in this case, is better than hurrying.
Tip 3: Get Social
If you are still nervous about dating, you can engage in some social activities instead. Explore hobbies that are interesting for you - there are so many of them! Cooking, drawing, yoga, dancing - pick anything you like and go. This will allow you to meet new people who have the same interests. After all, who said that finding love after divorce at 30 has to be associated with a date?
Your social and flirting skills might have decreased while you were married, so having a good topic for a conversation will help to make a connection.
Tip 4: Stay Positive
When you have a negative experience, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of negative thinking. You need to avoid it by all means. So whenever you start to have thoughts like “all men are bastards/all women are crazy” or “all the good partners are already taken,” replace it with a more positive affirmation.
The negative thoughts can be about you too. Many divorcees in their 30 have low self-esteem as they believe they failed, so something is wrong with them. You need to notice your self-blaming and self-abasing thoughts and stop them before they create an influence on your mood and desire to build a new happier relationship.
Thoughts affect your mood, so think positive. Get in a habit of thinking optimistically, and soon enough, you will have a stronger motivation to go out again. With a positive attitude, you won’t become discouraged if finding a new partner takes some time and effort.
Tip 5: There’s No Shame in Being Divorced
Divorcees in their 30s are often embarrassed about their stories. So they try to avoid this topic as much as possible in conversations with other people, especially during dates. But if the experience was processed fully and all the feelings were lived through, there is no need to hide the truth.
You shouldn’t hide facts about your biography from your potential partner. It’s a part of who you are, and if someone is not okay with this, then they aren’t a match anyway.
Obviously, you don’t need to bring this topic up right away within the first minutes of your first date. And when it does come up you shouldn’t use the opportunity to complain about your ex in great length. Simply explain what went wrong in the marriage, what you learned, and what experience you received from your divorce.
A calm attitude towards your divorce shows that you have processed the situation and are ready to move on. If you feel that you still have hard feelings towards your ex because they left or cheated on you, you can see a therapist. They will help you get rid of this emotional baggage before you go out again. You need to understand your boundaries to build a new relationship. The things you learned from your first marriage can help you build a happier partnership in the future.
Tip 6: You Go First
When you are married, you feel more like a “we” than like an individual. So now it’s time for you to reconnect with your inner world and start doing you again. Do what is interesting to you. Eat right, exercise, and become the person you always wanted to be. You won’t be ready to let others love you unless you like yourself first.
When you date again, make sure you don’t lose this new found focus on yourself. This is especially relevant for dating in your 30s as a woman after divorce. There should be a balance between your work, hobbies, friends, and dating, so you wouldn’t lose yourself in a new relationship. Your new partner should complete your life, not occupy it completely.
Tip 7: Know What You’re Looking For
People date for different reasons, and you need to know yours. By now, you are already mature enough to not waste time with people whose goals don’t match your own. So are you looking for your next lifetime partner? Or are you after a stimulating experience? The answer will influence the way you act during your dates and what you will communicate with other people.
You should also know what kind of person you are eager to meet. Often, people approach this matter, making lists of qualities they want to see in their partner. But Kelly Campbell warns that this approach might be counterproductive for finding love after divorce. “Lists can limit who you allow into your life,” she says. But what she believes is crucial to know is your values and if they are the same with the person you date. If they don’t match, you won’t be able to build any long-term partnership.
Knowing what you want is a great thing, but you should also be open to new experiences. Keeping your mind and heart open will allow you to discover new things. You may have “your type of a guy/girl”, but don’t stick to it too much. Let people open new horizons for you and use dating as a learning opportunity.
Tip 8: Use Modern Technology
Probably, when you met your ex-husband or wife, online dating wasn’t as popular as it is right now. And if you still think it’s only for losers who aren’t bold enough to meet in reality or for freaks, you need to change your attitude.
Meeting on websites or through mobile apps can help you widen your search and increase your chances of meeting the one. Plus, getting “likes” from many people will boost your confidence and help you feel more self-assured on real dates.
The online dating industry is very diverse. There are a lot of mainstream sites and apps. Some of them are for more serious folks, some (like Tinder, for instance) are more for having fun. Choose the platform according to your goals and intentions right now. There are also nice resources that will help you find people who share your passion for a healthy lifestyle or a particular kind of music.
Don’t stick to online communication only, though. You need to take the relationship offline eventually to make sure you have a real, not virtual, chemistry between you and your date. It’s simple to create a fantasy about the person on the opposite side of the screen based on their messages or photos. But you don’t want to live in this virtual world forever, right?
Tip 9: Date Many to Choose One
Finding love after divorce might seem a challenging task, as you’ve been in a monogamous relationship for quite a while. So now it’s time for you to date around and see what people can offer you. This doesn’t mean having sex with all the women/men you go out with. It’s simply about not putting all your eggs in one basket.
Dating a few people at the same time can give you a clearer idea of what you like or don’t like about your potential partners, what qualities you are looking for, and what can be a deal-breaker for you.
Please mind that you need to be honest with this; otherwise, lying may bring about negative consequences. Tell people you date that there are others you casually meet with too. Explain your position and be ready that your date might have some options too.
Tip 10: Kids Are Great - But Not on a Date
Dating after divorce in your 30s with kids is tough. You have to consider not only whether a person you’re going out with can be a good partner for you, but also if they are an appropriate person to be around your kids.
There is a temptation to have a “playground date” and see your potential partner (and their children) in action, so to say. This has to be avoided for several reasons. The contact you establish on a date should be based on your “non-mom”/“non-dad” version. You need to establish trust with each other first, and only then introduce your friend to the kids knowing that this is a very special person who will stay in your life long term. The same applies to bring your date home, where the children live.
Also, you don’t want your possible partner to think you are more interested in them as a possible parent for your kids than as a partner. Bringing kids to the scene too soon might scare the person away. On the other hand, you don’t have to hide the important fact that you have children. It’s better to know if having kids is a deal-breaker for your partner before you have strong feelings for them.
Dr. Fran Walfish, a relationship psychotherapist and consulting psychologist, says that it’s appropriate to introduce your girlfriend or boyfriend to your children when you have something serious for at least 4-6 months. Especially if your children are under 15. Your divorce was a big loss for them, too, so don’t let them get attached to anyone new before you are sure they will stay. Of course, if your children are teenagers or adults, you can tell your children earlier, but make sure you don’t give away too much personal information. They’re still your kids, not friends.
At the same time, don’t use your children as an excuse not to date. Parents are often afraid that kids will be upset or angry with them for dating someone other than their mom/dad. But according to Gadoua, “Most children just want their parents to be happy, and may be less likely to object than you imagine.” So you don’t have to apologize to your children for your desire to date again.
If you don’t have children yet, you need to know clearly whether you want them in the future. Life after divorce for men over 30 might be full of adventures and those adventures can stay childless for a long time. However, a lady of the same age might be more concerned with childbearing. So be honest about your vision for the future during your dates. This will help you to avoid misunderstandings and going out with a person who wants something absolutely different than you in their life.
Tip 11: Be Interested, Not Desperate
Your task now is to explore what is on the dating market, building nothing serious right away. If your intention is to settle down and re-marry as soon as possible, this will put extra pressure on you and your dates, and interfere with getting to know each other. Desperate people push potential romantic partners away when their craving for a relationship is too obvious.
You need to demonstrate interest instead. People enjoy being listened to, so good listening skills make you even more attractive in their eyes. And if you listen carefully, they will always tell you who they are. If you don’t like something you hear, don’t compromise with it. Turning a blind eye to something your date does wrong now could result in being with the wrong person in the future.
Also, pay attention to whether or not the other person is showing an active interest in you. Are they listening? Are they asking questions about your life? When you are in your 20s, it’s okay to play games of “hunting and chasing” with someone who doesn’t communicate their interest clearly. But do you really need it now?
Tip 12: Chemistry is Not Everything
When you are young, infatuation and butterflies in your stomach are a good reason to start a relationship. But when you are in your 30s and have been through a divorce, you need to know that there are other things that matter even more than just chemistry. These are personality traits and compatibility with a potential romantic partner.
Life after divorce for men and women may involve some adventure, however, make sure that you’re aware of whether it’s exactly what you’re looking for in the long run. Attraction and chemistry sometimes appear immediately or take time to form. But when you have it, you need to look closely at what kind of person you’re going out with. Are they kind? Generous? Willing to compromise? Reliable?
You need to know what qualities you are looking for in your potential future partner before you start seeing anyone. Make sure you are on the same page with general plans for the future, money, marriage, and having children. Compatibility counts more than passion if you want to build a healthy mature relationship. In your 30s, it is not only about feelings but also about a rational choice.
Tip 13: It’s Okay to Be Rejected
One thing that scares many people after divorce about dating is rejection. This often happens to those who perceive divorce as a defeat and failure. But you should remember that rejection is a part of the process. When someone says that “you aren’t the right person” for them, it simply means that you got one step closer to finding the right person for you.
So try to relax and move on. Don’t take the fact that one particular person doesn’t like you too personally. Remember that everyone at one point or another goes through rejection, and this is okay. You don’t have to prove that you are good enough. The right person will come and appreciate you for who you really are.
Tip 14: You Have the Right to Choose
Speaking of rejection, you also may reject a person you aren’t really into. It’s a natural part of the process, and therefore you need to date a few people so you can understand who exactly you are looking for.
Your instincts and what is called “gut feeling” are your best advisors in this process. If your intuition tells you something is wrong, don’t try to convince yourself it will be okay later. It’s okay to end the date early and not to spend time with a person you don’t feel attracted to. And if you have a positive feeling about someone, don’t hesitate to tell them you would like to meet again.
Tip 15: Watch Out for The Perfect and Fast
When you end a serious relationship, you have a great need for love and appreciation. And there will always be a person who is ready to give it to you in a HUGE amount. They seem perfect, and they want to move incredibly fast. These are people who say “I love you” on the first date and imagine your future kids after the second one. They want to have 7 dates a week and call you 5 times a day.
It may seem cute at first, but actually, it’s very dangerous. Often, people who give that much attention to their date from the very beginning will try to control the other person which can turn into a dysfunctional, abusive relationship. Your age doesn’t save you from falling into this sweet trap. So take it slow, have one date and then another one in a few days or a week. Meet more often if you feel like it and set boundaries for calls, texts, and visits to your work. And if you feel uncomfortable, don’t hesitate to talk about it.
Tip 16: Keep Your Expectations Reasonable
Don’t expect the very first person you date after your divorce to be the one you marry and live happily ever after with. There are lots of things you have to learn about relationships so you don’t make the same mistakes again. Give things time to develop and don’t push too much.
Another thing to avoid is having expectations that a new relationship will have no pitfalls. Sometimes when a person associates divorce with conflicts and negative feelings, they decide that “everything is going to be different this time.” And it will be different because you changed, and you learned a lot from your experience, but it’s impossible to have no conflicts at all. They are just a natural part of a relationship.
Tip 17: Don’t Bring Your Ex to the Date
Once you have a conversation with someone who listens to you and shows interest and compassion (which is ideally the case on a good date), it’s very tempting to talk about your ex in a negative way. But this won’t do any good. It will only harm the contact with the person in front of you. Your date may start to think, “If your ex is that bad, why did you marry him/her? And will I be called the same names if it doesn’t work?” That’s definitely not the impression you want to leave!
One more mistake divorcees often make is comparing their ex with a new partner. Remember, you are going out with a different person, and there is no way to compare the two. Don’t expect they will like and dislike the same things. Don’t think about what your ex did better or worse. Learn about the new person and discover what it is like to build a relationship with them.
Tip 18: Don’t Rush to Bed
You are an adult, and it’s natural that you have physical desires. But don’t hurry too much with this once you start dating after your divorce. Sex is great when you feel an emotional connection to the person and can trust your partner. Thus, abstinence after divorce might be helpful if you haven’t come back to your senses yet.
Your desire not to rush with this can also be a good indicator of what the other person really wants from you. So take your time and go to the next level when you are sure you really want this. However, don’t mix a temporary libido loss with the fear of intimacy, and if you detect one, work through it with a therapist.
Tip 19: Patience is the Key
However speedy and efficient you want to be in your dating, it is still a process. It will have very active periods with a few dates a week, and it will have periods when not much is going on. But you need to carry on and stay positive about finding your love. It’s out there looking for you too. Give it time to come your way!
Bonus Tip: Be Ready for Personal Transformations
When trying to strike up a new romantic relationship after a divorce, it is important to realize that it will require some psychological effort. When you were in your marriage, regardless of its duration, you were accustomed to a certain lifestyle, routines, and circumstances convenient for you.
Your habits have become firmly established at your age. So are your ideas about other people's behaviors. When making new acquaintances for the purpose of a serious relationship, it is worth turning off the ego as much as possible.
“Successful communication with a potential partner will not happen if you become obsessed with your prejudices about other people and the presets of your own model of the world,” says Gill Ruidant, CEO and Founder at 2Houses. “While in a new status, try to be open to new experiences and sensations!”