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Divorced Dads: Approaching Online Dating for the First Time?

Divorced Dads: Approaching Online Dating for the First Time?

Having some concerns about venturing into online dating? Everyone does. If you’ve looked through any Match.com or Plenty of Fish profiles, you’ll probably find the word “skeptical” used more than any other.

In this busy and connected world, it can be difficult to meet potential partners who share your values and interests. When you have children’s needs to take of, it’s even harder to find the time and brain space to devote to your personal happiness. Tip-toeing into new territory always goes better with a guidebook, or in this case a guide blog post that covers all the concerns and tactics for trying online dating for the first time. To make the material both thorough and easily consumable, we’ve taken the journalist’s route of listing the What-Why-When-Where-How of meeting people via a website.

What is Online Dating?

Online dating is a very elaborate form of personals ads where users can describe their looks, likes, values and hobbies at length. An online “profile” can be 1,000 words or more. There’s also typically a space for explaining what the profile writer is looking for. Religion, politics, hobbies, pets, smoking and drinking preferences and more are also listed. Where once, finding out all of these attributes could take months of dates, online dating puts it all out there right away.

After picking out the right matches, users message each other via the services and typically start communicating through their personal email addresses or phone. They meet shortly after that to determine whether they are interested in each other or have “chemistry.”

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Why Online Dating?

1. It works!

Doesn’t everyone know at least one couple that met through an online dating site? Turns out, robust research confirms that our cousins and friends who find love online are just a small sliver of those who do so nationwide.

In 2013, researchers at the National Academy of Scientists surveyed 19,131 people who married between 2005 and 2012. They found that one in three of these marriages, the couple met through an online dating site. Further, the couples who met online expressed higher degree of satisfaction with the marriage and a lower divorce rate.  Those reporting the least satisfaction and highest divorce rates met either in bars or through friends.

Happier marriages and fewer divorces could be due to the fact that those participating in online dating select prospects based on similar values, interests and backgrounds, three factors that many studies confirm contribute to marital success. eHarmony founder and psychologist Dr. Neil Clark Warren certainly thinks so. As he explains in his book, Date or Soul Mate: How to Know if Someone Is Worth Pursuing in Two Dates or Less, he created eHarmony to increase the number of happy marriages. Too many couples, he claims, marry based on superficial factors like looks, lust or earning potential. A career psychologist, Clark Warren had studied the real qualities that build a firm foundation in a relationship. His website eHarmony helps people select each other based on meaningful characteristics and similarities.

2. Stigma about Online Dating has Dissipated

Where once people whispered only to their closest friends that they were meeting with someone they met online, today that embarrassment has dissipated. The renowned Pew Research Center gives us some solid facts about the attitudes about online dating they gathered three years ago. The chart here reveals that online dating wasn’t even ridiculed ten years ago. 44% found it a perfectly legitimate way to meet romantic partners. By 2013, 59% of Americans agreed that the online dating is “a good way to meet people.”

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    Online dating is no longer seen as a last resort for the desperate.

    Now that we’re in in 2016, these numbers should be even higher, particularly since younger stars have come out about using online dating. Singer Adele is open about using eHarmony; Joan Rivers went on Match.com, boldly using her own photos. Chelsea Handler, Charlie Sheen and Matthew Perry admit to using multiple sites. It just goes to show, even the attractive and wealthy find online dating a practical tool for finding love.

    When Should Divorced Dads Start Online Dating?

    Despite the fact that this is an online dating primer, keep in mind that the decision to date should be made cautiously. The unspoken online rule is that if your divorce isn’t finalized yet, you have no business seeking out new partners. This rule has actually bubbled up more from the users of online dating sites rather than the sites themselves. It seems that those on the dating sites who have been divorced for a few years tried and failed at online dating when they made an attempt when just separated or newly divorced.

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    The risks include:

    • Bringing in someone new while you’re still in a great deal of pain. The newly divorced need time grieve and heal. Experts say that divorced couples should take one year alone for every five years they were married. It’s tough to hear, but as the pain diminishes and confidence returns, most recognize they would rather choose another partner while in a healthy, confident frame of mind than a needy, frantic one.
    • Bringing in someone new while the children are still getting used to the divorce and the new routines that follow. Experts find that these changes are the maximum kids can handle for a while, even a year or two. While the newly divorced who stay single do forego the comforts of being in partnership, they win in other ways. The time devoted to children’s needs sets everyone up for a happy and successful future. Avoiding the chaos that children can create when resenting a new partner keeps the family dynamic on a positive track.
    • Behaving badly with people who could be great partners down the line, alienating them. The newly divorced are notorious for engaging in risky financial, drinking and sexual behavior. Unloading on a decent person about the ex, while drinking and proposing sex does not impress her in the least. Keep an ideal prospect on the backburner until you’re ready to bring your A-game and win.

    Friends and family members are too quick with the advice to “get back out there!” They just don’t know what to say. These days, society respects all styles of families. Don’t feel frantic to pair up again just to prove your worth or feel like you’re a “real” family again. In fact, many of your colleagues will respect you for focusing on the children for a while.  Working and raising children takes a great deal of emotional and physical energy; waiting to date until you have a surplus of both sets you up for online dating success.

    Where Divorced Fathers Should Consider Uploading a Profile

    Believe it or not, Match.com, the game-changer in how people meet, went live in beta in 1995 . . . 20 years ago. At that point, just 14% of all Americans even used the Internet at all! Started by an engineer who still lives in the San Diego area, Match now has approximately 2 million paid subscribers in 25 countries. The website’s internal data claims that single people with profiles are three times more likely to find a relationship than those without a Match profile.

    While Match.com is the most visited online dating site in the world (far outstripping its closest competitor), it’s not the only one by a long-shot. Users consistently rate OKCupid, PlentyofFish, OurTime.com and various Meetup.com groups effective as well. These general dating website tend to charge less than Match or eHarmony.

    Where general sites have all types of users, narrower niche sites exist that cater to farmers, devout Christians/Jews/Muslims, pet lovers, Star Trek enthusiasts and more. With limited markets, however, fewer partners exist. Still, sharing a passion can light a fire. The niche sites tend to deliver fewer dates but those that you do find could have the potential to be more appropriate for you. That’s the theory behind the business model anyway.

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    Niche sites for divorcees and single fathers include SingleParentMeet.com, Just Parents.com, and SingleParentLove.com. Like the sites mentioned above, these have fewer users so choice is more limited. Dating experts also encourage single fathers to simply use a big one like Match.com or eHarmony. After all, most people disclose their family situation and their level of involvement with their children there as well.

    How to Online Date Successfully

    Once you feel you’re truly ready to date again, venturing online can be fun. Follow these do’s and don’ts to increase your chances of having a positive rather than mortifying experience.

    Online Dating Do’s

    • Take the time to create a genuine profile that reflects the TRUE you. No lying.
    • Fill out the profile as completely as you can. No one responds to an empty profile.
    • Upload three to five pictures. One photo isn’t enough.
    • Understand that you will be nervous. So will your date. “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”
    • Understand that many will not respond to you. Send a message and if there’s no response understand they’re not interested.
    • Prepare for someone to stop communicating with you. This is how it goes in online dating.
    • Understand that many are looking for a reason to reject you. It’s a defense mechanism.
    • Meet within a week or so of emailing.
    • Meet for a short walk or coffee. Don’t set yourself up for a two-hour-long meal on the first date.
    • Talk about your children, family members, friends and hobbies and the joy they bring you.
    • Determine whether the date went well enough to consider a second date. Have a one date at a time attitude.
    • If the date went well, ask for a phone number or card and permission to call.
    • Follow your gut. If someone seems unstable, distance yourself.

    Online Dating Don’ts

    • Don’t choose a free or low-cost dating site. Put money, time and effort into this if you’re really ready.
    • Don’t lie on your profile about age, weight, height, income etc.
    • Never reveal last names, addresses or other personal information until you’re comfortable.
    • Don’t expect that you’ll KNOW after one or two dates. As above, one date at a time.
    • Don’t speak negatively about your ex.
    • Don’t go on and on about your financial settlement.
    • Don’t carry on an email conversation too long. People seem to lose interest that way and go on to another prospect.

    Keep these do’s and don’ts in mind, but remember, too, that online dating will take time, energy and money.  You won’t get it right the first time or even the first 10 times! Your first attempts could be failures but failure is a great teacher. In fact, you really can’t get to success without it.

    When the date doesn’t work out, simply consider that you’ve gotten these preliminary meetings out of the way. Sales people are famous for welcoming the number of “no’s” they get because they realize the more they get out of the way, the closer they are to YES! It takes courage to go outside your comfort zone, but the great rewards await you.  Dating when the time is right for you, not your parents or friends, makes the most sense.

    Featured photo credit: Shutterstock via thumb9.shutterstock.com

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    Peter Mueller

    Founder of Father's Rights Law Center

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    Last Updated on August 12, 2020

    When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

    When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

    Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

    In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

    How to Listen to Your Gut

    The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

    Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

    1. Tune Into Your Body

    Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

    However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

    Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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    Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

    In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

    2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

    Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

    There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

    3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

    Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

    As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

    This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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    4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

    As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

    Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

    5. Challenge Your Assumptions

    When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

    In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

    A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

    6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

    Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

    There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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    Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

    Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

    Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

    We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

    The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

    We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

    7. Trust Yourself

    It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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    Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

    If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

    The Bottom Line

    The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

    Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

    More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

    Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
    [2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
    [3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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