Dating After Divorce: The Down and Dirty

My marriage was over before it started, really. He was a nice guy, consistent. We were friends. I thought that was the way it was supposed to be.

Flash forward two years later and I was sitting on my couch alone. He had moved out since we were on each other's last nerve, and while we tried to make it work for a bit, we were really forcing two puzzle pieces together that didn't quite fit.

But after a few months of healing my heart, I was ready to jump back into the dating pool. Off the market since I was a teenager, I had no idea what to expect as an adult. Let's just say things are definitely different. For anyone jumping back into dating after a divorce — either through online dating apps or old-fashioned nights out at the bar — here are some things that I realized on my journey.

1. There's lots of sex

If it's one thing I feel like every newly divorced person wants, it's sex. Lots of it. Whether it's because they weren't getting it on the regular when they were married or because they finally feel the freedom to do what they want, there are probably more booty calls than actual dates. The trick is to know the difference between a booty call and a potential suitor.

And don't knock yourself if all you want is a little no-strings-attached booty. As long as you're upfront and smart about it, get it out of your system.

2. You'll experience lots of new bedroom antics

One of the men I dated right out of the gate was into BDSM. I wasn't inexperienced in the sex department, but I was by no means ready for this to be a regular thing. However, I took a chance and went with it. The relationship didn't work out, but there are some things I realized that I actually liked. Go into every new sexual experience with an open mind. You really never know.

3. Everyone has baggage

This was eye-opening for me. I'm in my early 30s, have a great career, and am childless aka very carefree. It was hard for me to realize that Saturday night dinners and Friday night happy hours may not happen because the man I'm seeing has visitation with his kids.

But the hardest thing? Weeding through the amount of crazy scenarios that men threw at me to figure out of it was worth it or not. You have to figure out what you are willing to put up with when kids, careers, exes, personal space, etc., are all factors in the equation. You have to figure out how much trust you want to give. But those are your choices, no one else's.

4. Your friends probably won't get it

When your friends are either (happily) married or have been in long-term relationships, they will not understand the new dynamics you're facing. They won't understand why you haven't moved in together after a year, or why you don't talk to the person you're seeing every day, all day. They won't understand the balance of being right outside another person's life and the dance you will have to do to get in it. Don't let that discourage you. Listen to your intuition.

5. You'll get introspective

Now that I'm older and understand my own flaws, I spend a bit more time evaluating how they affect both my choice in a partner as well as the dynamics inside the relationship. This will make life so much easier and you'll stop making the same mistakes, too.

6. Big steps are up to you

For the first time, really, you don't have to do anything you don't want to do. You aren't ready to meet the family? Don't! You are an adult and don't need to rely on timelines or approval from anyone else but yourself.

7. Breakups are less painful

You are older, wiser, and know what you can offer someone. If they don't want it, then it's really a shame for them. I'm not saying it doesn't hurt at all — it does. But the bounce-back rate equates to two pints of ice cream and not 20.

8. You will meet someone

You will. When you least expect it. I met my current (amazing) boyfriend on a night where I literally had to drag myself off the couch after too much Jack Daniels and an afternoon of sobbing. A friend and I sat down at the bar, I looked over her shoulder, and there he was. Who knows if it's forever, but I'll take the happiness as long as I can have it.