Let’s play an association game.
Think of something you dread.
What came to mind? A trip to the dentist? Dating after marriage?
Both stereotypically are considered unpleasant. However, dating after marriage doesn’t have to be.
1. Don’t be oblivious to the world around you.
You might think getting informed about local, national, or international affairs of the day and what’s going on in the world of sports have nothing to do with your romantic life, but the truth is: they do.
When you are newly dating, struggling to invent conversation topics that don’t have to do with your children or ex may be a challenge.
Being familiar with current events will enable you to break the ice—and the silence—if the conversation on your date becomes stilted.
2. Don’t talk about your ex spouse.
An episode of the old TV series Eight is Enough featured the oldest son attempting to date after divorce.
After an evening of hearing about his ex spouse, the woman headed for the proverbial hills, and he never saw her again.
3. Don’t just talk about yourself.
Since the point of dating is to get to know each other, many people erroneously think they should talk about themselves, so the other person gets to know them.
They certainly will learn about you. They will “learn,” correctly or otherwise, that you are “I” centered.
It it okay to talk about yourself; if your date is interested in you, and asks about you, of course, answer the questions. However, people appreciate being asked about themselves too.
4. Don’t just talk about your children.
Again, the point of dating is to get to know each other, not each other’s children.
If someone asks about your children, it’s great they are interested. However, you don’t want to give the impression that if your relationship becomes long-term, your children will be more important to you than they are. Put in-depth conversations about your children on the back-burner until you know each other better.
5. Don’t wear your wedding ring on the date.
If you are thinking that this should go without saying, I agree. However, I know a man who wore his wedding ring on his date. She is the one who told him to take it off.
I understand that removing a ring you may have worn for years could be emotionally difficult. On the other hand, if you are not ready to remove your ring, perhaps you are not ready to date.
6. Don’t bring your children on your date.
I know a woman who did this too. People are busier than they used to be. Struggling to spend time with your children, spend time with your date(s), and work in or out of the home is time-consuming.
It would be great if you could save time and see your children and your date together. Don’t. As mentioned in Point #4, you don’t want to give the impression that your children will be more important than your partner if your relationship becomes long-term.
7. Don’t meet at each other’s homes on the first date.
Even if the date doesn’t turn out to be serial date-killer Ted Bundy, you could send out messages your don’t want to send out, not this soon. There are plenty of public, well-lit places you can meet.
8. Don’t have sex on the first date.
I don’t know everyone, but I don’t know anyone who hasn’t regretted it.
9. Don’t try and replicate your ex spouse.
Cloning may be legal for animals, but it doesn’t apply to dating. Don’t look to replace the same person you married. There are reasons it didn’t work out. Figure out what they are before you try again.
10. Don’t use your date as a transitional object.
“Rebounds” are better suited to basketball than dating.
11. Don’t bring your problems on the date.
Your date wants to go out with you, not a “sad sack” or a “wet blanket.”
12. Don’t order lobster.
I have nothing against lobster. As a matter of fact, I love lobster. However, if your date is paying, you will give the impression that you are high maintenance. If you are paying, you will give the impression that you have a high bank account balance or you are trying too hard to impress.
13. Don’t waste the other person’s time.
If you are looking for the next person to swap rings with, and your date isn’t, you might not want to be taking up each other’s precious time.
I recommend having this conversation about whether or not you are looking for long-term sooner than later.
14. Don’t expect your date to change once you’ve spent more time together.
You may be initially enamored, but don’t be initially blinded. Or, you will be blind-sided down the road.
15. Don’t mix-up your dates.
No joke, I knew a woman who dated six men simultaneously. She expressed a concern that she would answer the phone before checking the caller ID, and wouldn’t recognize the voice of the caller. Check the caller ID before answering the phone.
There was a Seinfeld episode where Jerry couldn’t remember the name of the date he was with. He kept calling her “you.”
Get an app like Evernote. Put each of the names of your dates in a different note with their interests. Check the note before the date, so you remember what their interests are. This serves two purposes. You can ask about their interests, so you seem interested in them. Also, if you are dating more than one person, you won’t mix up their hobbies, jobs, and children, for example.
16. Don’t forget that “Beauty is only skin-deep.”
Model Christie Brinkley and the late actress Elizabeth Taylor are women known for their physical beauty, but they have each been divorced multiple times. Aesthetic appeal does not equal compatibility.
17. Don’t forget to reflect on past marital mishaps before you take the dating plunge.
You don’t want them to reoccur. They say “history repeats itself.” Don’t let that apply to your previous marital mistakes.
Divorce isn’t the only reason marriages end. Whether you are newly divorced or newly widowed, dating can be difficult, awkward at best. It doesn’t have to be—not if you follow these tips.
Featured photo credit: Drink At The BFI by Gary Knight via Flickr via flickr.com