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Woman staying safe w online dating

Online Dating: 5 Must Do’s for Staying Safe After Divorce

Online dating makes us feel like we’re being proactive. If you’re “on the market,” you don’t have to wait for a friend to introduce you to so-and-so’s best friend’s brother or throw back one-too-many cocktails as you wait for someone to catch your eye at another bar or party. No, now you can swipe left and right as you wait in line at the grocery store or sit in front of the TV. But there are just so many dating apps out there—Tinder, Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel, Match.com, eharmony, OkCupid, PlentyOfFish. So many, in fact, that you shouldn’t be surprised if you see some of the same faces on multiple platforms!

The world of online dating is so popular that it’s almost impossible to keep away from, but it’s a world that has a dark side. Using a dating app to “get out there” can feel like learning a whole new language to a newly divorced woman, especially one who married long before the internet was up and running (like me). I’ve had many dates and some relationships through dating apps, and I’ve found most of the men* to be very kind and polite. But that’s not always the case.

I was glad to not have shared my full name with a couple of the men I’ve met online—if I had, I might not have heard the last from them after the date flopped. Some men insisted on knowing personal details early on. Harmless? Maybe. But these men are strangers, and you should always put your safety first.

Although this is a blog for divorced women, men can also benefit from using the online dating safety tips below. So don’t be shy about sharing these suggestions with some of the men in your life. A recent story in Arizona illustrates the importance of staying safe when online dating.

If you are a divorced woman, there are several thing things to keep in mind when gearing up to date online. But for this post, I’m going to focus on keeping you safe when using dating apps and interacting with strangers. These recommendations are in addition to basic safety practices like…

  • Always meeting in a public place
  • Letting a friend know when and where your date is
  • Not revealing personal information, like your full name, too early as this can easily be linked to your home and work addresses

I want you to explore and have fun—you’ve been through a lot, and your divorce recovery has been hard-won. But putting you and your safety first is nonnegotiable, even if it means a bit more work and assertiveness on your part!

So here are 5 Must Do’s for staying safe when online dating.

1. Set up an email account just for people you’re interacting with on dating apps

Don’t set up the account with your full name. For example, create a new Gmail account, and instead of using the name “Jennifer Parker,” use an email address that no one would recognize, like [email protected]

Some dating apps require you to link your account to Facebook. Pay attention to what information is being uploaded to the dating app. You may need to set up another Facebook account with less information (not a “phony” account full of fake information—just less) than your primary one.

2. Do not give out your “real” cell phone number

Instead, set up a Google Voice account (you can do this while you’re setting up your new Gmail account). Many times, a cellphone number can reveal the name of the person who owns the account. If you don’t believe me, type a friend’s cell phone number or your own into Google.

A guy once asked me way too many questions about my cell phone number. Why was it a different area code? (Google Voice can run out of numbers in certain area codes, but you can choose one from anywhere in the country.) Was it a real cell phone number? Why couldn’t I give him my iPhone number? Could I “please, please, please” switch to my real cell phone number so we could FaceTime? This was all prior to even meeting for a date! I politely declined, canceled our date, and blocked him. (Blocking someone on Google Voice is even better than on the iPhone as even voicemails will not come through. They simply get a message that the number was disconnected. Done!)

3. Don’t give out or use your full name on the app

This is especially true if you have an unusual name. For example, if your name is Marietta and you live in Glen Cove, NY, running a search for those two facts alone will likely reveal your full name and address. So, instead, perhaps use Mari and put down a nearby town or large city.


Related:  100 Must Do’s for the Newly Divorced Independent Woman


4. Don’t include pictures of yourself that you’ve posted elsewhere

Thanks to Google reverse image search pictures can be traced back to other sources. If you use your LinkedIn or Twitter profile picture, there’s a good chance anyone looking hard enough could find you there.

But even without Google, posting images you’ve shared elsewhere can be dangerous. I have a friend who used her Facebook profile picture on a dating app. One guy looked through Facebook for people in her town, found her picture, and showed up on her doorstep. So don’t do it. Be safe.

5. Limit what you reveal

If you’re a pediatric dentist and live in Pasadena, that information can help someone find out your full name, address, and more. Be vague about the details of your life and profession. I’m not talking about someone you’ve gone on several dates with but someone who you’ve only just started seeing.

Trust your gut (don’t demand that your gut give you a logical reason). If anything seems off, walk away. If your date reveals his actual name, a simple internet search may tell you some things about him. (Google for yourself to see.) I took this a step further once when a guy I was planning to meet had 12 criminal records, according to my Google search. I told myself, if I couldn’t figure out what that was all about, I was going to cancel the date due to a permanent case of “the flu.” Instead, I bought a one-month membership to Instant Checkmate and found out he’s just a really bad driver (all traffic violations—nothing actually criminal).

There are men out there who will be insulted or annoyed that you won’t reveal what they want to know before you’re comfortable. (I should know—I’ve met a couple of them.) In my experience, when a relationship moves past the first few dates and I develop a sense of trust, telling my date that my name is Elyse and not Ellie isn’t a big deal. Your date will understand and think: Why, what a smart woman she is. Hiding your full name or your phone number is hardly the same as, say, refusing to reveal your real age. Any date who would make a big deal out of you staying safe when online dating is not worth another moment of your time. So don’t take it personally—just move on!

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of divorce. Whether you navigating divorce or already rebuilding your life after the overwhelming experience, one thing making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not reinvent alone. We invite you to schedule a free 45-minute consultation with SAS to hear feedback, next steps, resources and best practices for creating the life you deserve.

*This piece was written for SAS for Women, an all-women website. At SAS we respect same-sex marriages, however, for the sake of simplicity in this article we refer to your spouse as a male.

How long does it take to get over a divorce

How Long Does It Take to Get Over a Divorce? And 4 Signs You are On Your Way

There’s a saying about getting over someone—that it takes half the time you spent together to truly move on. That means six months of wallowing for a year-long relationship—time that might drag on endlessly, or time that might fly by faster than you can blink. But for longer relationships? Those marriages that have spanned years and possibly decades? The waiting period is a whole other discussion, a conversation we are going to have now.

Because after divorce, you want your life back. But a part of you is still reliving the past, turning your marriage over and over like a skipping stone in your hand. A stone that, at some point, you have to drop. You have to let it go. For the truth of the matter is spending the next decade missing your Ex—and feeling sorry for yourself—is even more depressing than your actual divorce.

So you aim to help yourself, you start researching. You ask friends, you ask family (or maybe they ask you), “How long is it supposed to take to get over a divorce, anyway?” Yet, you get nothing in return, but differing answers leading to more questions.

Now you’re here reading, and we are with you. We know that sometimes arming yourself with knowledge is the best way you can feel in control, especially when it comes to all-things-divorce. So, how long does it take?

What science says

Past studies suggest that it takes a person, on average, eighteen months to move on after divorce, while others simply leave it at “it’s complicated.” And that’s the truth—divorce is complicated, and because of this, science is only so accurate. Some study participants, for instance, might have been separated before getting a divorce, while others had only just broken things off. Other participants may have wanted a divorce, while others still wanted to try to make their marriages work.

What is clear is that even when marriages look the same on paper, their insides are messy, intricate things that can’t be examined like a math equation.

What experience says

What we know, despite what our loved ones tell us or even what science says, is that people often discover they’ve “moved on” almost unconsciously. They wake up one morning, and the sadness they’ve been carrying feels different, less of a weight than a kind of memory. You’re in the middle of a conversation, for instance, or you are out shopping in the grocery store, and you see the latest tabloid announcing another celebrity divorce when you remember your own divorce, what you’re supposed to be grieving, or “missing” or reverberating from. Only you don’t so much. You feel stabilized. It’s not that you’re unaware of the scars you are wearing, but you own them now. And best of all, you no longer care. 

This not caring is freeing! It seems to happen a little sooner when you have distance from your Ex. That means no “let’s be friends.” No late-night, I’m-feeling-sorry-for-myself phone calls. No hookups “for old times sake.” In fact, to help with your healing, you must consider your past relationship like a drug, for a certain time at least. You have to cut off your exposure to the drug and to its many triggers.

You have to re-circuit your brain and teach it to do new things rather than reach for the phone to “let him have it” or to beg. (Drink a glass of water every time you want to call your Ex!) Limit your triggers of being reminded of him*. Unfriend him, or better yet, block your Ex on social media. Delete his number from your phone. If you are coparenting with him, only communicate through Family Wizard. This is about creating a buffer for the new and emerging you to grow. It’s not about adding to your confusion and grief by constantly being near the man you once thought you’d spend the rest of your life with.

But what if you aren’t grieving your “Was-band”? But grieving the loss of who you were in the marriage? Who you used to be? The lifestyle you enjoyed? The summer rituals you shared? What about the friends and family who played a role in that former life of yours?

Life after divorce is a whole new way of living, and it means almost by definition … change. A lot of change. You need time to grapple with the changes and the many losses you have suffered, ignored, or even, created. So really, when we ask how long does it take to recover from divorce? We are talking about the time it takes until “You’ve Got Your Groove Back.”

But what if you are tone—or you can’t dance? Getting your groove back does not explain what you are striving for?

In our 46 Steps to Divorce Recovery, A Definition and A Guide, we define this moment in time, post-divorce, as a process, a journey of its own within divorce where the  “emotional and practical restructuring and healing” is a “constant, cyclical process in which you are broken down and built back up numerous times until finally, you are whole again.”

Another way of saying this is, you will know when you are healed when all the shattered pieces come back together in a way that makes you feel proud of yourself.

What you can do to help yourself move on

The very fundamental desire to heal is your beginning. Now you must take steps. Try to avoid doing things that smack of those old familiar patterns and people you miss. At first, fighting these instincts will be hard, because during your marriage you probably did everything you could to bring all these things together—the people, the routines, the joys, the rituals. You tried to make the most of your marriage. But now your challenge is to create your “new normal,” and to do that, you’ll have to rediscover yourself and who you are now.

Some women find that their divorce recovery takes years, while others find that they’ve prepared for divorce so long that within months or weeks they already feel better than they have in years. To those in the latter camp, we say, yes, you may be feeling better. But don’t lose sight of the work and steps you must still be taking to ensure your healthy independence. Doing the work and practicing self care, will ensure you start seeing the signs that indeed, you have started to truly move on.

Here are some of those signs.

1. The idea of going on a date is thrilling

If, after divorce, you say to yourself whenever someone suggests you should get back out there,“What? Start all over? It’s so much work…” this is a sign that you’re not over your divorce. The idea of dating feels like a chore, a series of boxes to check off a list someone else has generated, rather than the adventure it can really be. So, don’t do it. Focus on yourself and what you need to discover about putting your life back together. Until you do this work, you will only be showing up half-heartedly or, damaged.

But if you feel a twinge of excitement at the thought of meeting someone new, then some part of you might be ready to move on—at least in the romantic department. Check in with yourself. Manage your expectations of self, what you want, what you need, and what you are willing to share.

2. You feel comfortable in your own skin

You’re feeling yourself. Not just feeling sexy—though there’s no shame in that, you feel healthy and fully of energy. You feel a sense of peace and balance. You have planted your feet in the direction you want your life to take. In short, you know who you are, and you like that person.

For some women, this may mean they’ve secured a job (a paycheck!) and routine. For others it may mean understanding at long last their finances, and what their plan is for moving forward. Or maybe the kids are no longer acting out but settling into their new routines at both houses, and this is giving you a chance to ease up in hyper-management of the shifting parts. But that frenzy of survival mode has passed. You are able to look up and consider what else might be possible for you now.

3. You feel positive about you future

Before your divorce and maybe even sometimes, afterwards, it was hard to care much about your future let alone believe there was anything good waiting for you there. But now surprising events or happenings have inspired you. You may be full of hope. Look! There’s so much about your life that’s new and surprising. You never could have predicted or planned for it.

There’s something beautiful about leaning into the unexpected.

Being positive about your future implies that you have taken a hard look at your past and come to a place of acceptance about it, both the good and the bad. It means you no longer carry the past like a weight. You’ve moved past blame. When you are living in the here and now, planning and building your new future, this is another strong indicator that you’ve begun moving on after divorce.

4. Your divorce doesn’t keep you up at night

The end of any relationship generally comes with a certain dose of feeling sorry for yourself. Nights spent crying yourself to sleep and days spent walking around in a daze. But now? You’re tired of being tired. You’re done with being sad. You find yourself making plans for your summer and spending more time with new people and those unbelievably wonderful, stalwart friends. One day you think to yourself, “When was the last time I thought about HIM?” And the fact that you have to think about that puts a smile on your face.

You might never truly “get over” your divorce, but over time, it will become a quieter ache instead of an intense pain. The heartbreak will callus over—you’ll be wiser and more prepared for red flags that may appear again. Experience is a gift that gives you the chance to learn from mistakes and failures. Whether those mistakes and failures are real or simply dancing in your head, time and doing the work you must will give you perspective.

When it comes to getting over a divorce, there’s no rulebook or timeline except the one that feels right for you. If you do nothing about your divorce recovery, you can expect very little to change about the way you are feeling. It will probably become more muddled and less pronounced. But did you grow from it? If you choose to support yourself by finding the help you need to really honor your beautiful life, you’ll discover the time it takes to get over your divorce will be just the right amount of time you need to move forward bravely and with grace.

Since 2012 smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional and often times complicated experience of divorce. We invite you to learn what’s possible for you. Schedule you free, 45 minute consultation with SAS. Whether you are coping or already navigating your life afterward, a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone.

*This piece was written for SAS for Women, an all-women website. At SAS we respect same-sex marriages, however, for the sake of simplicity in this article we refer to your spouse as a male.

After divorce are you destined for rebound relationships?

After Divorce, Are You Destined for Rebound Relationships?

You’ve been warned about them. But here’s what a rebound relationship truly is. It’s any romantic relationship entered into shortly after ending another romantic relationship. Sound vague? That’s because it is. What does “shortly after” even mean? An hour, a week, a year? It’s all a little murky, isn’t it?

And then there’s the whole judgment thing.

Rebound relationships leave a bad taste in the mouth. The general opinion is that they’re never any good for both people involved.

After all, who gets into a new relationship before the ink on their separation agreement or divorce decree is even dry? Before they’re done with their grieving?  Before they’ve figure out who they are now that the dust is settled? The truth is, many people do.

Some people quickly enter a new romantic relationship because they want to distract themselves from the pain of their divorce or remain in the same type of living arrangement they had before their divorce.

Others do so because their Ex is already in another relationship. They believe that if their Ex is already moving on, then they should, too. AND, of course, they’ll make sure their Ex knows about how happy they are with their much more successful, attractive, smart, young, and “sane” new significant other.

Some people enter a rebound relationship because of the excitement. A rebound is a way to explore their newfound independence or to experience what it is to be sexual again after years of feeling unlovable.

Sometimes there are people who are already in another relationship while married, divorcing, or moving out. Those relationships are complicated and fall into their own category—let’s say the ball (sticking with the rebound metaphor) never hit the ground but got passed instead. These relationships may last, or they may be a function of distraction, excitement, and taboo. And when the marriage is officially no more, those feelings may dissipate; with the reality of everyday and its mundane responsibilities making the relationship seem suddenly boring. But if not, and the relationship lasts, a whole new set of challenges are presented for the one who left the marriage without hitting pause to reflect on what really went wrong.

Then there are those who enter into rebound relationships to heal and move on with their lives. These people know that their divorce recovery is textured, a process, and a healthy relationship (see more below) won’t keep them from growing.

So, you can see that not all rebound relationships are the same. They’re not all harmful. Some truly are healing.

How do you know if your rebound relationship is healing instead of harmful?

Honesty about the situation

You and your new partner are upfront about your personal situations, emotions, and what you’re expecting from the relationship. If not, then at least one of you will be very hurt when it ends.

The willingness to learn about yourself

One of the great things about being in a relationship is the ability to learn more about yourself. If you enter this one with an intention to learn more about yourself, your likes and dislikes, and how you behave in a relationship, then you’ll be presented with new opportunities to learn, grow, and move on from your divorce (and maybe, eventually, from your rebound relationships).

Curiosity about your new partner

Being curious about who your partner is means that you’re not using them to make you feel better. Instead, you’re seeing them as an individual with their own wants, needs . . . and baggage.

Taking the opportunity to treat yourself well

You’ll teach your new partner how to treat you by modeling it for them. Do you want to be treated with kindness and respect? Then treat yourself that way in addition to treating them that way.

Dealing with your baggage as it comes up

Healing through being in a relationship means that you’ll discover things that need to be dealt with. Maybe you’ll discover that something your new partner does triggers you. Maybe you’ll discover that you entered this relationship because it felt familiar instead of healthy. Maybe you chose this partner because he seems 180 degrees opposite to your EX. Whatever baggage you discover, your awareness of it and appropriately dealing with it is part of your healing journey.

Most rebound relationships, including the healing ones, are relatively short-lived. The good thing about the healing ones, though, is that each one is a stepping-stone that carries you closer to a good and lasting relationship with yourself and perhaps, if you want, a relationship with someone else too.

Just what makes a good relationship—one that can last? When you mutually agree to and practice the following.

Honesty about the situation

You and your mate are upfront about your personal situations, emotions, and what you’re expecting from the relationship.

The willingness to learn about yourself

Your mate can be your greatest teacher. Your partner will reflect back to you things you do, things you don’t like about yourself, and things about being in a relationship. The key is to have the willingness to learn and grow. Are you listening to what your partner is saying?

Curiosity about your partner

Being in a good long-term relationship requires that you are still curious about your partner. When you believe there’s nothing more to learn or discover about them, you begin taking them for granted. However, if you can remain curious and you both continue to grow, your relationship can keep its vitality.

Taking the opportunity to treat yourself well

It doesn’t matter what type of a romantic relationship you’re in, you’re always modeling for your partner how to treat you. Take care of yourself, and treat yourself with kindness and respect.

Dealing with your baggage as you become aware of it

It’s rare that a person has no baggage at all. So, expect that you’ll have to deal with your own baggage while you’re in your relationship. Because you’re in a good relationship, your partner will likely support you in your efforts to deal with it—just as you’ll support them.

Making a commitment to each other and consistently putting in the effort to create a good relationship

This is key for any long-term relationship. This level of commitment is also directly connected to the other items on this list being in good order (or at least on the way to being in good order) for both of you.

And, no, this list isn’t some giant typo.

There really isn’t too much difference between the characteristics of healing rebound relationships and good relationships. They are both about promoting growth, support, self-love, and mutual respect.

The main difference is the level of commitment and the possibility of outgrowing each other. With a rebound relationship, the commitment level isn’t lifelong. Because you enter these relationships needing to heal, it’s more likely that one or both of you will move on quickly.

So, let’s get back to the original question:

“After divorce, are you destined for rebound relationships?”

Hopefully you are, but not the kind with the bad connotation. Hopefully, you’re destined for the healing type of rebound relationships that you can use as lovely stepping stones toward either a wonderful committed relationship that helps you both blossom as the unique people you are or a lovely life as a fulfilled single woman.

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the challenging experience of divorce and re-creation. Let us help you build your next chapter! Schedule your free 45-minute coaching session to learn how. We guarantee — whether you work further with us or not — you’ll walk away from our talk having learned a next step, and especially, felt the validation you need to hear as a newly independent woman. 

Luxe, messed up bed

Happiness After Divorce: Your Sexual Reawakening

During the last ten years of my marriage, I had zero interest in sex. Actually, it may have even been a negative amount of interest. Ten years is a long time. I chalked my disinterest up to two kids and getting older (I was in my late 30s, so I was clearly trying to rationalize and ignore the glaring fact that I was miserable in my marriage). All of this didn’t mean I wasn’t having sex. But the sex was, at best, something to check off my to-do list.

Happiness after divorce is possible for you (because it was for me)

One fear I had (and often see clients grappling with) was this: Is bad sex in an unsatisfying loveless marriage still better than the possibility of NEVER HAVING SEX AGAIN? It took me several years of weighing the fear—an unlikely and irrational one—of living the rest of my days entirely alone without a loving partner against the increasingly intolerable state of my marriage. I was thinking about divorce. Was that the right choice for me? I finally took a giant leap and moved out, focusing on baby steps like finding my own apartment, choosing a paint color for my new bedroom, and unpacking boxes one by one. But experiencing true happiness after divorce still seemed out of reach.

So, it came as a HUGE surprise when I discovered that in addition to unpacking those boxes of belongings—even the metaphorical boxes of emotions I had kept hidden away—I unpacked some interest in sex. Ok, not just some interest. I experienced a sexual reawakening! Just days after moving into my new place, SEX was all I could think about. That’s not an exaggeration. I felt different, becoming very physically aware of myself and my body. I felt so different that I looked different. Friends, family, and other people in my life asked me if I had a facelift or another kind of treatment. It dawned on me that perhaps I looked different because of feelings I was experiencing for the first time in many years: hope and happiness. And let’s face it, happiness is sexy.

Is bad sex in an unsatisfying loveless marriage still better than the possibility of NEVER HAVING SEX AGAIN?

Don’t get me wrong—just because I felt a tremendous rush of interest in sex doesn’t mean I wasn’t equally consumed by bouts of pure, unadulterated panic. Sure, I had lots of interest but no game plan and no potential dates in sight. Would anyone find me attractive? Would anyone see me as anything other than a middle-aged mother of two trying desperately to keep her sh*t together? I couldn’t even allow myself to fully imagine the mechanics of undressing in front of another man. It all felt far too overwhelming.

My first kiss as the “new me”

It was a few days after moving into my new home when I received a text from a number I didn’t recognize. It was an old boyfriend I had dated in my 20s. I hadn’t heard from him in years. I knew that he had separated from his wife at some point, but I didn’t give it much thought. The text said, “Happy New Year! Hope you’re well. Would love to grab a drink sometime.” Assuming he had heard about my separation, I immediately called our one mutual friend to see if she had told him the news. She had not. In fact, she also hadn’t spoken to him in a long time. I was floored. What were the chances of my Ex texting me just days after I moved out on my own? We set up a date, and every time I imagined seeing him, I felt nervous.

I felt free and alive for the first time in what felt like a very long time.

When I arrived at Indochine, a sceney NYC restaurant frequented by models and celebrities, I barely recognized myself! I felt like I was 25 again: out at night, in the “real” world, with other people who weren’t parents! While eating dinner with my Ex (we’ll call him Chaz), I remembered that he could never stop himself from checking out every attractive woman in sight. And that he is unapologetic about it. This habit once drove me nuts and was the reason I ended things with him years before. I noted that Chaz clearly hadn’t changed. His eyes skipped from woman to woman, landing on a lanky and gorgeous Afroed hostess, but I didn’t care. I felt free and alive for the first time in what felt like a very long time. And I had a one-track mind . . .

After dinner, Chaz and I walked a few blocks south to a spot we used to go to together back in the day. It was dark, moody, and easy to hide in. I was tipsy by this point, and I think Chaz was too. We sat down across from one another, and he leaned in to kiss me. It wasn’t an innocent, just-for-old-time’s-sake kind of kiss. It was a lean-into-each-other, full throttle make out session. My first kiss with a man who was not my husband in nearly 16 years. It was THRILLING, to say the least.

We finished our drinks, and a cab dropped us off at our respective apartments. No, we didn’t have sex. Kissing someone new was enough for me just then. We furiously made out the entire taxi ride (which would be my first of several kissing experiences in a taxi). After leaving him, I was excited about my new life after divorce. I was single, unmarried, and free.

A lot of women think they cannot become who they are meant to be without another man.

I’ve discovered otherwise. Me.

 

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the challenging experience of divorce. Now you can find support and learn best practices RE-creating your life after divorce with Paloma’s Group. Decide who you really are. Find IT. Create IT. Own IT.

Classes start September 26 and space is limited.  Visit here for details. 

Alyssa Dineen has been a New York City stylist for close to 20 years. After getting divorced herself, Alyssa started a service to help newly single people get into the dating app world with confidence. She has worked with all different personalities, body types and budgets and knows how to help you stay relevant and current while still feeling like yourself — the best version of yourself. Meet Alyssa this fall and benefit from her personal style and dating guidance through Paloma’s Group, SAS’ post-divorce support group for women.

Life after divorce dating can challenge your confidence.

Life After Divorce: 6 Dating Tips on How to Show Up

You might be thinking about dating now that you’ve arrived here in this land of the unknown, your life after divorce; and this particular aspect of it can be intimidating, exciting, and frankly, straight-up terrifying. When my marriage ended I was, or so I thought, eager to start dating, and I set up an online dating profile almost immediately. After matching with someone, we texted for a full week before I was able to go out on an actual date. I felt relatively comfortable the few times we chatted on the phone. He was also newly divorced but had been dating for a few months. However, when the day came of our first date (and my FIRST date in almost 17 years) I was anxiety-ridden! I paced around my apartment fretting about why I shouldn’t be doing this:

“What if I have nothing to talk about?” (which, by the way, has happened NEVER in my life)

“What if I do something embarrassing like trip on my way to the table?” (That might have happened before.)

“What if he tries to KISS ME??!!” (Hmm, scary? Or is that I don’t trust myself?)

I even texted my date to tell him I would probably not be able to make it. Luckily he saw right through my hesitation and eased my worries (– there are compassionate people out there!). I then called a friend who helped talk me off the ledge, and after hanging up the phone, I stared down my reflection in the mirror. I had to rip off the metaphorical band-aid, get my act together and get out the door. I put on some of my favorite music: I needed some serious GIRL POWER music and so I opted for some Rihanna and Beyonce (whom I enjoy now thanks to my two daughters). I put on my new IRO jeans (my best friend convinced me I needed some sexy jeans for my new dating life— the best $200 I ever spent!!) and somehow made it through the date with my self-esteem intact.

Since that day, I’ve spent a LOT of time preparing for dates. My friends tease me that it’s become my hobby (I have to say they aren’t entirely wrong!). Over the course of the past few years as I’ve advanced through my own divorce recovery and gotten to know myself even more,  I’ve honed my craft and have actually begun to truly enjoy dating, to thrill in it even. Dating is a skill that can absolutely be learned, and like a chess game, once you have a few good strategies in place you can begin to feel confident enough to take a few risks. The same can be said about how you choose to dress yourself for dating. Once you have your good reliable, strategies in place you can begin to finesse the details.

Based on my now ample experience, here are the suggestions I most often share with clients and friends who need a little boost as they head out the door to begin their dating journey.

Alyssa’s 6 Tips for Showing Up in Your New Life After Divorce

    1. Start with the fundamentals. Address your foundational pieces. Chances are you are wearing a yellowed bra that is old, stretched out or otherwise ill fitting! I know I was. Go to a good lingerie shop* and have the saleswoman help you find a bra that actually fits AND looks good. You will feel sexier and empowered just knowing you have it on.
    2. Keep it easy. The day or evening of a first date is not the time to reinvent the wheel. Create a date “uniform” where you have, for example, great fitting jeans, a comfortable pair of boots (see below), your new well-fitting, but sexy,bra and just swap out different tops.
    3. Treat yourself to one new thing: a perfect pair of jeans, a new great pair of boots (with a little lift of heel to make you feel taller), a new haircut, or even some highlights.  One key element of getting through your first date (and thereafter in your new and empowered, life after divorce) is feeling good about yourself because, after all, self-confidence is attractive. “Look good feel good” is an old saying that still holds true. If you feel like you look great you will feel great and more confident.
    4. Accessorize: remember that most first dates are sitting next to or across from someone. Mostly what your date is seeing is your top and jewelry. A simple top and some favorite jewelry or an interesting top and minimal accessories.
    5. Never show up on a date in shoes you can’t walk in! You’ll want to feel comfortable enough to take a leisurely romantic stroll or head on to a new adventure should your date take on a life of its own. But obviously you want to feel good in them (i.e. sexy) so don’t go too far on the comfort level. Leave the “sensible” shoes at the office.
    6. HAVE FUN. This is not a styling tip but just a “life after divorce” tip. Seriously, this should be a fun experience! This time around, you’re not 20 something full of insecurities. You’re not (necessarily) looking for a life partner. You can use this opportunity to learn more about yourself and whom you want to spend time with. You can try new things: go to concerts, try new foods, visit a neighborhood you’ve never explored, and open your mind to exciting opportunities.

After a few months, the most important thing I learned is that I wasn’t “just a wife and mother.” I rediscovered my femininity and also my sexuality (another blog post entirely!). I had a client, who after working with me said, “I would walk down the street and feel invisible before, and now I feel a new vitality that was dormant for so long. I forgot what it felt like.” I definitely relate to that and know many other women who have experienced similar revelations. My advice is to not overthink it and just enjoy your newfound freedom. Try to see dating as a way to connect with new people and finding your inner glow and fun side again.

 

*If you are in the New York Metro area, email me at [email protected] for my favorites.

Alyssa Dineen has been a New York City stylist for close to 20 years. She has worked with all different personalities, body types and budgets and knows how to help you stay relevant and current while still feeling like yourself — the best version of yourself. Get in touch today to find the styling package that suits you best www.stylemyprofilenyc.com.

old fashioned picture of man and woman on a zip line

Dating After Divorce in 10 Steps

Dating after divorce is just one aspect of your plan going forward.

Good, you understand that. You know that as a newly independent woman there are many things you need to address right now, and that maybe, just maybe dating shouldn’t be your first priority … But, another part of you is thinking,“Yeah, uh, huh, BUT! WHAT ABOUT dating? When will I be ready? Why isn’t it happening already?”

Well, for those of you (for us) who cannot wait, here’s a list, Dating After Divorce in 10 Steps, because, we are heavy into the steps metaphor, and we know you are curious. We know a part of you needs to know IF you can do this. Can you trust again? 

What must I do to get out there?

1. Create your mission
What is your intention? What are you looking for? Maybe you are saying, you are looking to …

  • Dip my toe in the fishing pool (why is everyone a tadpole?)
  • Find a companion to do things with
  • Not set the bar too high, really, but just go out to dinner with an adult who can use a fork and knife
  • I’d like to spend the night with someone (let’s not beat around the bush)
  • I just need to fill the empty. I am scared to be alone (that’s ok, just pause and give yourself time to be alone with it)

Note: “I’m Looking for My Soul Mate (Again)” is not an option.

2. Write your mission down.

But wait, what if I don’t know if I am really ready?

No one says you have to. You are free.

Isn’t that one of the most beautiful sentences? Think about it. You are free. You can date if you want. Or not. But, oh, if you want … YOU CAN DO IT!

We are not saying that stepping  into the crazy world of dating is not daunting. It is cra-zee, scary sometimes, confusing, and over-hyped. We know it summons up all kinds of fears. But let’s not stay in that place, reviewing what we know. Let’s live. Let’s move.

3. So, reread what you wrote for Step Number 2.

4. Brainstorm a list.

Write down potential locales, situations, friends, and dating platforms that can help you meet someone. Online dating is the best way to find someone, based on our experiences. But you can also join a softball team, go to the bar, prowl the bookstore, hang out in a museum, or linger at the produce counter, channelling movies scenes.

5. Research online dating.

If you are one who exhausts all resources by researching the very best way to do virtually everything, than have at it …  make a case-study. Evaluate which dating platform you might use. Interview your single friends, and consider these 2 studies comparing different dating platforms. They help you understand a lot in advance of committing (and boy, do we like that idea).

6. Test your hypothesis.

Remember, after all your googling, contrasting and comparing the best ways to date, you still have to try it out– which means conducting field work. You can spend hours inside creating your online profile, or better yet, asking your best divorce friend to author a juicier one, but accept that at some point, you must leave your house for anecdotal material.

Fieldwork

7. Get your blood circulating.

In case you hadn’t noticed, all action starts with effort. So start your action truly by going for a walk, and not to meet him either, but to find sunlight. To get your endorphins going. To connect with nature. Sunlight, exercise, and nature have an incredible impact on our psyche and well-being. They make things begin to look up like sunflowers. You are starting to look up. In fact, you are positively radiating positivity!

8. Prepare your mind.

Read the newspaper headlines, watch the news, read a book, so you have something to talk about other than your job, your kids, or your divorce (the worse!). Seems obvious, but those subjects are tedious to everyone but you.

9. Then do it!

Say yes to someone who asks you out for drinks. Or a cup of coffee, or a brioche, or God knows what. But something short and simple, see? Let it happen in a public place like a restaurant or bar, so you can enjoy it (if necessary, briefly and make a fast getaway) or leave an opening for the possibility of dinner — if fried mozzarella sticks suddenly sound more appealing than Netflix at home. (He’s got to be quite a guy.)

10. Afterwards, be fair to him/her and to yourself.

Did he seem in alignment with your mission? Were you turned on by him? Could he be a friend? Did he make you laugh at least? Thank him, and let him know within 24 hours if you will be seeing him again or not, and then think about all you’ve learned. What is it that you have learned if you had to reduce it to one-phrase headline?

Ok, I’ll tell you. It’s: Yes, you CAN!

Feeling jittery is natural. Why bother to risk it all again? We think the question is more … When will you start living again? If you want support, reach out for your 45-minute complimentary consultation, what we call your “Map to the Next Step” session. Whether you decide to work with us later or not, you’ll get objective feedback in our first meeting, a new resource or idea, a black and white, NEXT step. Promise. 

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of divorce. Whether you navigating divorce or already rebuilding your life after the overwhelming experience, one thing making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not reinvent alone.