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The 16 Stages of Dating After Divorce

Jul 13 2016 - 12:00pm

The best part about being divorced after a short marriage [1] is being single again at 35. Seriously. When my marriage ended after just two years, the idea of navigating the dating world all over again seemed daunting, unappealing, and pointless. Plus, the last time I'd been seriously single, it was 2006; texting was barely a given, much less Tinder.

But, I figured, if Robin Wright can snag a hot younger boyfriend [2] after 15 years of marriage and a very public divorce, I could at least give dating a shot. To my pleasant surprise, my 30-something jadedness confidence combined with the dawn of casual online dating culture made for one damn fun year and a half. Turned out, dating as a divorced 35-year-old was a great way to pass the time until I felt ready for a relationship again. Behold the 16 stages of my journey, illustrated with GIFs featuring sassy women.

Source: Corbis Images [3]

Relationships are bullsh*t.

When my journey began, I was bitter and cynical. I didn't want to get married again, and anything vaguely couple-y (PDA, wedding [4] photos, etc.) irritated me.

But so is celibacy.

I had no desire to date, but I did have the sex drive of a 35-year-old woman. You know how they say that men hit their sexual peak at 18 and women at 35? That's true, people.

Wait, I'm 35! I can date anyone I want!

The mid-30s are like a golden age for dating [5]. No one bats an eye if you go out with a 22-year-old or a 40-year-old. This came in handy early on, because while single 35-year-old men are looking to get married, single 25-year-men are not.

Did I mention I'm divorced?

I worried that being divorced made me undesirable. I wondered, will people think I'm a screwup? Also, what's the point of going on dates if I am not ready for a relationship? "Practice and companionship!" said my mom. I decided to take my mom's advice and ignore my own hangups.

Turns out, being divorced is kind of badass.

Rather than finding it weird that I'm divorced, men seemed to think it was kinda hot.

Friends want to fix me up.

Anyone who knows a single man in his mid-30s wanted to fix me up with him. I was skeptical that we were just leftovers who had nothing in common. Plus, I told them, if he's looking for a relationship, I'm probably not a good candidate right now.

I reenergize my long-single friends.

My friends who are still single in their mid-30s are over it — sick of dating and sick of being single. But as a new wingwoman who was single and ready to mingle, I gave them a second wind. Talking about our dates became an entertaining hobby.

However, I am not like my single friends.

Being divorced is not the same as being single. Unlike my never-married friends, I was not trying to find The One. I tried that, and I failed. This time around, I was just ready for adventure, and as a result, I ended up dating all kinds of guys I might not have considered before.


In my 20s, I obsessed about whether or not guys liked me, and I took it personally if they didn't. I even adjusted my behavior ever so slightly to make myself more to their liking. This time, I didn't give a f*ck. My attitude was, take it or leave it, this is how I am.

Source: WE [6]

I learn to temper my enthusiasm.

Before marriage, everyone was a potential mate. After the first three months [7] of a relationship, I would idealize everything and be convinced this person was perfect. After divorce, I have a better grip on reality.

I have no interest in commitment.

As someone who tends to get fixated on one person prematurely, I decided the healthiest option is to date several people at once. If I'm into two to three guys, I can't get obsessed with any single one. This mostly worked, though text messaging could get confusing.

Source: Comedy Central [8]

But dating means lots of eating and drinking.

The only problem with lining up multiple dates per week is that I didn't have much time for myself. I spent way too many weeknights over cocktails and heavy dinners.

Which isn't as easy as it used to be.

I'm 35. Neither my metabolism nor my ability to bounce back from debauchery is what it used to be.

But it's nice to be an adult.

When I spend the night with someone, I don't have to worry about roommates or futons. Nowadays, my dates either live alone in grown-up apartments or come back to my grown-up apartment. If I'm lucky, I even get poached eggs for breakfast.

But I'm getting too old for this.

It has been nearly 10 years since I dated someone I didn't live with. Now, I not only have to schlep my gym clothes to work but also a change of clothes and toiletries. My desk is like a storage unit.

Having a new boyfriend is just as exciting as it used to be.

Is it still appropriate to call someone my "boyfriend" when we're closer to 40 than 30? Who cares. After a year and a half of dating around, I'm giddy about being in a relationship again.

The fact that we're both 30-somethings (with many relationships in our wakes) makes it easier; we're straightforward, we don't play games, and everything is on the table. Maybe this time I'll get it right, but if things don't work out, I know I'll be OK.

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