Article by Trisha Stone
Dating after a divorce is tough. You don’t quite know where to start so here are a few internet dating mistakes and their solutions.
1. Too much too soon
So you have been ploughing through those endless profiles on your internet dating site and have come up with someone who interests you. There has been an exchange of emails. He sounds fun and witty and you begin to look forward to his messages. You find yourself getting up earlier in the morning just to log on whilst you drink your coffee to see if he has sent a response to your latest remarks. During the day you compile witty replies in your head and suggestive lines to throw his way. This has gone on for a couple of weeks and he suddenly asks if he can call you. Your chest expands; you are really excited and arrange a time. Now you are curled up in your favourite chair waiting for the call. Guess what it goes well, the same light banter, his voice is not what you expect but that is OK. You talk for an hour. This becomes a daily ritual which you begin to plan your time around. And then he invites you to dinner…
2. Throwing money at it
It has been a while since someone invited you out to dinner (you may be just starting dating after your divorce). Your immediate thought is what to wear, need my hair done etc. This means that you spend the best part of a week running around with the one thought in your mind “I must get this right”. You seem to have disappeared and you feel that you need to invent a new person to go on this date. In order to be that person you have to package yourself in some particular way. There must be some key that you can find, a particular dress, new haircut etc. You believe that you need to make yourself more appealing.
3. Thinking that you know the person
The evening has arrived and you meet at the arranged restaurant (good step, as all the dating advice recommends that you meet in a public place). You are especially nervous and excited but also slightly uncomfortable because the shoes are new and you feel a bit wobbly in them. It is strange you recognise this person but at the same time you don’t. The voice you know that but he does not look like the person in the photograph, taller, shorter a bit heavier or gangly something is not as you imagined. Anyway he seems quite at ease but maybe that is just a contrast to how you are feeling. Initially conversation is going well as there are points of contact from your previous conversations but it isn’t going anywhere. By the main course you are starting to drink a little too much to fill in the silences. Your feet really hurt now and you are taking surreptitious glances at your watch – only 9 o’clock. No dessert thanks and by the way you have an early start in the office tomorrow so you have to go soon. Can’t think of anything but getting out of the shoes. Yes it was good, do call me…
4. Fantasy – it’s only in your head
Next day or later in the week, the emails/calls are still coming and you continue to respond. It’s a though you have never met and you can get on with the easy-going repartee that has become almost a habit. In your mind he is something you want him to be, well not quite but you can have yourself believe that he is whilst you exchange messages and late night calls. You are starting to develop a whole life in your head around this person, you imagine where you can live with him, what you will do, holidays together in fact everything you ever want with someone. This is taking up a lot of headspace but that is enjoyable in itself, you feel connected to someone if only in your mind.
5. Not paying attention to the signals
A week or so more and you are becoming slightly irritated by the emails and are not responding quite so readily. But he asks you if you want to come out for another evening and that heart leaps to your throat again. You agree even though there is a vague memory of discomfort from the first meeting. Well you remind yourself that all the dating advice recommends that it is about getting to know someone. I can’t expect to feel comfortable about everything immediately. He is suggesting dinner again, you don’t really want to but you are not sure what you want to do so you go along with it. You had arranged to see a girl-friend that night but you tell her you can’t make it, she seems a bit put-out but you put that thought aside. The second evening seems very long.
Too much too soon:
It is so tempting to put all your focus on one person at a time when you are looking to date on the internet. But it is important to remember that not only are all those people out there looking at numerous people at any one time but you could be too. If you put most of your time and energy into any one contact at a very early stage this means that you cannot scout, screen and sort other possible people. Dating Advice: Don’t make a big investment emotionally in any relationship without solid foundations.
Throwing money at it:
Research has revealed that online daters are spending up to £1,500 a month taking out people who they realise, after the first 15 minutes are not for them. (Independent, June 2005) Remember be authentic, the packaging is only that and is not who you are. Meeting for a cup of coffee or a drink will give you enough time to assess whether this person is someone you want to know better. Dating Advice: Packaging is not the answer, be clear about who you are, what you want in a relationship and set about finding it in a considered way.
Thinking you know this person:
We can easily be seduced by email conversations and late night telephone calls. Apart from the actual chemistry that is missing in these exchanges there is that part that you know very well yourself, where you just reveal what you want at any given time. If you know what your requirements are in a relationship this will help you assess quite quickly if this person is for you. Most of us allow things to just drift along and are not pro-active in having a plan for ourselves when it comes to relationships. Dating Advice: How is it we plan for everything except relationships? Take some time to plan what you want in a relationship before you get into a habit or rut with someone.
It’s only in your head – It is very easy to live in the fantasy of a relationship even from a very early stage. After all that is why you have signed up on the dating site in the first place – you want a relationship. However, being truthful with yourself is easier if you have a relationship plan. Then you can ask yourself, from the information you have so far, does this person tick some of my boxes. If so then you can continue to find out more about them whilst finding out about other people at the same time. Projecting onto any one person, especially at a very early stage, all you hopes and dreams is likely to bring you some amount of pain and heartache when you find this isn’t going to work out. Dating Advice: Spread the emotional load by giving your attention to a number of people, it helps deal with the ups and downs of the dating cycle if you are not exclusive right from the start.
Not paying enough attention to the signals:
It is amazing how quickly we can get ourselves into habits and relationships, however new, are one of those areas. We all like attention and contact with people but what about the rest of your life, those friends who have been around for you, your family. Anyone who might be for you will, you hope, want to share life with a person who has a balanced life and that includes all the other activities and people in your life. Straining towards exclusivity at a very early stage and throwing all your time and attention towards the relationship can be a disaster. Dating Advice: Get out there and have any dating and relationships fit in with your life as a successful single. Know what your requirements, needs and wants are and look for someone who can meet these.
© 2006 Trisha Stone