Are You Ready To Date?

When I introduced Swati, who writes The Single Mothers Chronicles, I shared that she had just got married on New Year’s Eve. So when Swati and I talked, it was natural that we would talk about dating and how she met her now-husband. Here’s what Swati had to say about being ready to date and her early forays into dating:

The funny thing is that when you get divorced, you feel like you’ve just shed this heavy weight. A lot of people I know, including me, are like,

“Oh my gosh, I just want to go out and have a few drinks and have a nice time again,”

However as I would go out with people, it was really clear that I wasn’t ready to date but I wasn’t conscious of that at the time.

Dancing makes for a fun dateI want to say I went out on a date with somebody within three or four months, because there was somebody who lived in my building. But I was definitely socializing, I was going to mixers and things like that, like putting yourself out there. I dated somebody who was in our group of friends for a while, which is kind of easy to fall into.

If I look back on the people that I’ve dated, I could tell what stage in my recovery I was in and what part of me needed healing. They were the people I instinctively chose, but I can only see it in retrospect. I didn’t realize it when I was doing it, because they’ve all been so different.

I felt there were so many burdens on me at the end of my divorce, and I remember just wanting to go out, have a nice time, come home to my bed, and not have any obligations. My friend that I dated was fabulously romantic, really great at coming up with creative ideas. I remember one Friday night he called and said,

“I want you to meet me on the corner of this and this street at this time.”

I had no idea what we were doing and it turned out we were right near a dance studio. We took a 30 minute dance lesson and then we went out to dinner. I look back on him now, and he was care-less and care-free. For somebody in their mid-forties, he was fairly irresponsible and kind of “oh, okay, whatever, anything goes” but great at knowing that if he had me for four hours, creating a night out of it.

But no baggage. I never had serious discussions with him.

Then there’s another man who I dated who—I hate to say this— went along with anything I said, absolutely everything I said. Probably three or four months in,  I started to think,

“Oh my God, now I have another person to make decisions for.”

I didn’t do anything about it until five or six months, which I also hate to admit, but it’s true. I think at that point, I was in a stage where I want to be in control of everything, but I still want a partner. I want to control it, don’t tell me what to do.

I can see now what I was going through and the people I ended up picking. There were a couple of others along the way, and then I had a mini heartbreak and I didn’t date for a while.

Then I remember this one summer evening, my daughter was asleep, it was around 11:30 at night and I’m one of these people who when I get agitated, I pace around, and I actually was pacing in my living room, kind of annoyed over the fact that I was doing nothing about dating and I thought, “What can I do right now?” I like to take action, so that meant right then, that minute. I had avoided online dating, but at 11:30 when your child is asleep, that’s pretty much the only thing you can do if you want to be proactive, so despite all the horror stories I’d heard, I decided to look at Match and eHarmony.

And yes, that’s how Swati met her now husband. Coming in the next post, Swati’s strategy for online dating.

I always feel completely uninformed when it comes to talking about dating after divorce or being ready to date, I could talk about “not dating” but not “dating” :) Anyway, Swati’s comment about being able to tell in hindsight where she was in her healing process by the type of person she was dating is very intriguing.

It’s very consistent with discussions that divorce doesn’t mean  failure. It means that you and your spouse came together because you needed each other and that now your needs are no longer the same, it’s a natural progression to end the marriage. For some, it means seeing your ex as still a friend in your heart, similar to your old college friends. I do believe that understanding what need your spouse met at the time, is a very important part to accepting that divorce isn’t a failure. It’s also an important part in consciously recognizing what you’d look for in a new partner which from everything I hear is critical to filling out that online personal profile.

I also liked Karen Salmansohn’s recommendation in her Prince Harming Syndrome that you can’t decide if you should get serious with someone until you have decided your own life plan.

Can any of you map your healing process to the type of person you’ve been dating?

Photo credit: Julie Blaustein

  • Jolene

    What a great story!! I love that Swati is now remarried and met the right man the second time around. Great series, as always!! (and obviously, I agree with the online dating thing!)

    • Mandy

      I’ve been thinking lately that some of my reluctance about going online is that it’s so public but I also realize that that’s the whole point. The more people you meet (even if it is online), the more likely you are to meet someone with whom you’re compatible. There’s also something there about opening up and making yourself vulnerable …

  • Swati Bharteey

    I still think it’s funny that it works BUT – I have to say we never would have met without it – we are both SO busy!!

    Thanks again Mandy for writing this!


    • Mandy

      So Swati – another one of my hesitations is finding the time to commit to dating. How did you do it with a young child?

  • Swati Bharteey

    Yeah – that is really the hard part; I ultimately only did only eHarmony and honestly was not flooded with matches. I only sent messages to 3 people who sounded interesting. I know a lot of women have the theory that you should meet as many people as possible – I went the opposite route (as I clearly hadn’t been discerning enough b4 :) ) and said “I’m not going to bother if something doesn’t grab me.” And the ratio of available men to women in Chicago in my age set made it not too time consuming – haha!

    Just do a couple of hours on the weekend and 30 minutes on a Wed (as an example) and if someone grabs you, communicate more.

    I can’t wait to hear how it goes…!

    • Mandy

      Seems to me that if you put a lot of effort into your profile and be truly authentic, then you may get fewer matches but those that you do get, will be more aligned to you. Would you agree?