Starting to date after a marriage has ended can be difficult. I often hear, “I never thought I would be doing this again.” After spending most of my adult life with the same man, I was not prepared for dating at 39 either. Regardless of whether meeting someone new involves sitting on a barstool, through a social club, speed dating, or the internet, it should all start with the same thing: knowing what someone wants in a partner.
The following advice was learned the hard way; I started dating before having a clearly-defined idea of what I wanted in a partner and, as a result, ended up in a relationship with a man who was wrong for me. My first dating experience post-separation would not have happened (or would have ended quickly) if I followed the advice I give now.
The best advice I could give to someone starting to date:
- Create a list of the qualities you are looking for in a partner before starting to date.
- Read it often.
- Edit the list after each relationship.
- Don’t compromise.
I also broke each of these rules in the last year. I would get involved and forget to revisit my list. I would fail to edit the list after a break up. I also tucked away incompatibility issues, ignoring the obvious, because a guy was fun on a date or because someone was nice and I should try to like him more. Each time I went against my own advice, it was a mistake.
Conversely, whenever I followed this simple advice, it was a success. I had a lot of first-and-only dates, quickly assessing a man and knowing there was no chance we would be a good fit. I was also able to end relationships fairly quickly after learning more about him, realizing it could not progress further.
A year later, my list looks different than it did after publishing my first version, but still has many items from a year ago.
Here’s my current list:
- Happy and fulfilled in his own life.
- Loyal and honest.
- Laughs often, with a great sense of humor.
- Kind, encouraging, and thoughtful.
- A great communicator.
- Not emotionally tied to ex-wife (still battling her and/or living in the past).
- Confident and secure with himself.
- A great father.
- Smart and successful (not in a monetary sense, but has a life purpose and enjoys his career).
- Maintains good relationships with family, friends, and his children.
- Is already divorced.*
- Loves baseball.*
- Accepts who I am unconditionally.*
- Exercises regularly and has healthy habits.*
* New additions over the last year.
Of the new items on the list, I have unapologetically added ‘loves baseball.’ I wanted to add it to the list originally, but felt that was crazy and close-minded of me. After dating some who did not enjoy baseball, I learned something essential:
Nothing on the list is crazy if it is important to me.
Do you or have you had a list?
How has it worked for you?