As I mentioned in a previous post, while in the process of becoming the Divorce Doula, I was also the Dating Doula. I approached post-divorce dating with the practical enthusiasm befitting an HR consultant: post a job opening, vet resumes, pose & review personality tests to ensure compatibility, invite suitable candidate for “interviews” and then decide whether they were right for the job. Keep track of all viable applicants in an Excel spreadsheet so as to avoid confusion among the candidates. I work independently, and after spending 15 years with my ex, my social circle was limited to our married friends and a few perennial bachelors – some seriously unsuitable candidates. I was not about to go fishing off the so-called company pier, so I went & built myself an on-line dating profile.
I gave myself a very modest goal in the beginning: meet new people. As a Maritimer, this is not difficult for me; I can find something to talk about with virtually anyone, but Vancouver is notoriously difficult for meeting people – men & women So I set out some tactics for this endeavour, which inevitably included on-line dating. I posted a profile on several well-known sites and went, um, fishing. I also found a couple of sites that were lesser known but had a high geek factor, something I was keen on. I actually ran into my ex-husband on one of these sites. After a brief moment of embarrassment & horror, we had a good chuckle about it.
I’m far from perfect, but right out of the gate I received a plethora of messages from men that, had I encountered them in the real world, my inside voice would have said “not in your goddamn life.” Married guys, guys posing with their Harleys and/or atrocious spellers (turns out they are not mutually exclusive) need not apply. After a few days, I got a knack for finding more compatible candidates. I didn’t have a “must have” or “deal breaker” list so I was open to meeting anyone with a cute smile, some level of self-awareness/self-depreciation, a cheeky sense of humour and wrote in complete sentences.
I met so many wonderful (and just plain wonderfully weird) people through on-line dating, some who have become great friends, cherished experiences and even a client or two. I also assisted several friends to set up their own profiles. Like any proper doula, I coached them as they took those tentative first steps – usually in their fiercest stilettos – into the next phase of their lives.
On-line dating is a great way to meet people you wouldn’t have met otherwise, spend a couple of hours engaged in an interesting conversation & maybe have a few laughs with a stranger. You might even meet your next great love. A successful date (insert your own definition of “successful” here) will often come down to simple chemistry, timing & possibly good lighting. But one thing I learned is that contrary to that old adage, the best way to get over someone is NOT to get under somebody else. It can be tempting to fill the void left in your emotional life with a string of dates, or an attempt to “get back” at your spouse. I speak from experience that NO ONE wants to hear you bitch about your “psycho” ex for an hour – no matter how much wine is involved. Make sure you’re ready to date and that you are emotionally available to be in a new relationship. If you’re not, you’re just wasting everyone’s time.
It’s a brave new world, dating after divorce. Don’t be afraid of getting out there, but keep yourself safe. Just remember: if it doesn’t work out, at least you’ll have a great story to tell over a bottle of wine with your girls/couple of pints with the boys. Don’t misrepresent who you are & try to keep an open mind. Love can come from the most unexpected places, and when you least expect it. Be open to receiving it.