Episode 3- Dating after Divorce (Part 2)

Episode 2 of the two part series, Matt and Anna talk about actually getting back into dating after a divorce or long-term relationship. They offer up advice on what you can do to improve your odds of success and talk about situations you may run into.

Key Takeaways

Attraction: Understand that attraction is not something to achieve from another person.  While you can seek to be your most attractive self and maximize the chances that those you are interested will in turn see you as attractive, ultimately attraction is something that is personal and only in the eyes of the beholder.  Therefore be aware of the difference between maximizing your attractiveness vs getting someone attracted to you.


That said, one of the most universally attractive qualities one can foster is to develop self-confidence and a comfort with themselves.  This art of cultivating self confidence begins with creating a life which fulfills you and creates a sense of purpose.  We cover some steps you can take to begin this journey post-divorce in the previous episode Dating After Divorce (Part 1).


You can also use this time to start working on basic attraction skills that have a huge impact on your dating results such as Eye Contact, Body Language, and the way you present yourself.  There are many books, programs, and coaches out there that cover these areas and we recommend finding the systems which resonate the most with you and fit within you time/monetary goals.  If you would like to schedule a 20 minute discovery session with Matt or Anna to help further discover what your next step should be, send an email to matt_anna@betterdatingandrelationships.com and we can work on a time to do this.


Deepening Questions: The goal of deepening questions is to get to know your interest or partner beyond the surface level.  These questions serve you early on in helping to spark connection but also allow you to stand out as most people never make it much past small talk early in the dating cycle.  That said, you should not go too deep too fast and let the more personal information come with time and comfort.  This can be done by asking open questions that are not overly prying and allow the person answering to determine what degree of depth they would like to go.  Listen for the key emotions in conversation to discover what part of the story conveys particular emotions so you can use those as points to ask further deepening questions.  This is why actively listening the person you are speaking with is a critical tool in building great rapport and asking deepening questions.We give a very brief example of this in the podcast.


If you are stuck on where to begin, you can start with The 36 Questions That Lead to Love.  While we don’t personally recommend using these questions as a tactic to make someone love you, taking one or two of these questions that you find fun and using them as kick off points for conversation should work great.


One thing we did not mention in the podcast is to stay away from negative topics, especially early on in dating.  Just as asking deepening questions that illicit positive emotions and can help leave feelings of positivity about the date, the opposite can happen with having them relive negative experiences.  And while sharing negative experiences can help create a feeling of bonding, it is not going to help lead to a feeling of attraction (at least not healthy attraction).  At a later date we will talk more about how and when to revel the shadow aspects of yourself in a relationship.  For now, if you notice the conversation drifting into the negative, try to steer it back into the positive.


Over-pursuing and Neediness: Neediness can be a suffocating mindset of one partner onto the other and kill attraction.  In it’s simplest description, neediness is when one or both partners begin to rely solely on their partner to feel completeness in key areas of life and hinge their self worth on the responses of their partner.  If one partner is needy it can quickly drive the other away and if both are needy it can lead to a codependent relationship. This should not be confused with enjoying or wanting a partner to be a part of your life and feeling your life is made better or MORE complete with them.  Remember the analogy by Dr Robert Glover about the cake of your life.  Your life should be a whole and complete cake and your partner serves as the frosting.  While they may certainly make your life better and beautiful and even affect portion of your life, they are not what makes up your life. If the frosting needs to change, the great cake underneath would remain the same.


Over-pursuing, while certainly a common behavior for both sexes, is far more common for women in what Dr. John Gray calls the “Uncertainty” stage of dating in his book Mars and Venus on a Date. It is a fear based reaction that can come from unmet expectations, over-investment, neediness, and/or  lack of personal value and a scarcity mentality.  It is important to understand that when one partner pulls back, they are seeking space to process where they are in the relationship and what they want to do going forward.  This is where over-pursuing can make them feel like they don’t have the space they need and drive their decision towards ending the relationship before it really began.


On the opposite end, giving the other the space they need shows compassion and value in oneself and allows them to fully process where they stand, much likely increasing (although not guaranteeing) the likelihood they decide to move into a committed relationship.  A warning for men is that hitting this stage is natural and common but deciding to end the relationship to see what else is out there can be a vicious cycle and lead to missed opportunities to pursue some very fulfilling relationships.  If your gut is telling you something seems off though you should fully explore those reasons as well as their may be red flags you are sensing on a deeper level.


Seeking Flaws: Also often occurring in the uncertainty phase, we may seek flaws in our partners and disregard all the great qualities in them, even if the great qualities are significant and the flaws relatively insignificant.  If you find yourself in this pattern, it may be a fear based behavior that requires you to do back and do the work from Dating After Divorce (Part 1) or possibly even seek counseling to determine if there is a deeper reason.
For neediness, flaw-seeking, and fear of moving beyond uncertainty, it is important to remember “In not being mindful and present and trying to prevent a specific outcome from occurring, we often take actions out of fear that help push us towards that feared outcome”


Dating While Still Having Feelings for Your Ex:  Understand that a part of you will always have feelings for your ex on some level.  You were with them for a reason and while things have unfolded that made the relationship continuing no longer a viable option, it does not take away that they were someone you once cared deeply for and were once attracted to.


While you can date again with love in your heart, you must know yourself enough to know that your heart is open and ready to love another.  You must also know that you are not dating others as a backup plan or as a tool to make your ex jealous.  Doing this will only lead to a world of heartache for everyone involved.  If you are at the point where you know and have accepted the relationship is over and would no longer want to get back together with your ex, then you can begin to move on.


This is even more critical in situations where the breakup may have been more friendly and less turbulent and the negative emotions felt towards the ex are minimal.  It is important in these cases to do the work from Dating After Divorce (Part 1) to ensure you have internally moved on and are at a place to let another into your heart again.


Dating vs Relationships: It should be understood that a few dates does not (or at least should not) mean a relationship.  While there is no hard and fast rule on how long one should be dating before moving into a relationship, understand that dating is an initial discovery process and should be fun and looked on as a chance to get to know another person and gauge their compatibility.  All too often we see people go on one or two dates and try to immediately push it into a relationship status.  Many times the other will feel pressured and give in to this but that may cause problems down the road.


Understand that dating is simply a process of trying our time with different people and seeing what you like and don’t like from being with them.  You may believe you wanted one thing and then change your mind after.  While dating, there is no binding contracts to the person you are dating or yourself.  Don’t be afraid to modify what you thought you wanted as you learn more about those qualities in dating.  You should treat this as fun and like an experiment.  Most people who have negative experiences with dating experience this due to entering the scene with too many expectations and a rush to make dating work instead of just appreciating each experience and individual.


However, it is important after a few dates to start communicating what your expectations are for a relationship.  For some it may be important to communicate that even sooner.  For example, if you are someone who views becoming sexually active with another a sign of commitment, this should be communicated early on.  No commitment is implied until stated.  Explicitly stating when there is commitment can help avoid confusion and miscommunication that can happen where commitment is just implied.


Compromise is also perfectly acceptable and common when determining the needs and expectations of both.

*See Disclaimer

Matt & Anna’s Authentic Relating Workshop (Link Pending)