- Dating after divorce isn’t easy – especially if you’ve never dated in the digital age.
- There are many shocks for people reentering the dating world after divorce, from the unspoken rules of dating app etiquette to the sheer size of the online dating pool.
- We asked six people who have been divorced what they found most challenging about navigating the modern dating world.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Dating can be challenging, but dating after divorce can be even more so.
It’s not easy to jump back into the modern world of dating, especially if you met your spouse in the pre-dating app era. If figuring out how to use the apps themselves seems difficult, imagine trying to understand the unspoken rules of romantic interaction that comes with these platforms.
“Going out in the world with a newly defined relationship status of ‘divorced’ can be frightening for many singles, as well as exciting for those who’ve been waiting to start over again,” Julie Spira, founder of Cyber-Dating Expert, told Business Insider.
She said it can be confusing as to when you should start dating or how you should go about doing so: Do you ask to be set up? Meet people at events? Join dating sites and apps?
Spira suggested all of these methods, but said to first make sure to take the time to heal and do things for yourself as a single person. Plus, she said that when you do decide to start dating again, it’s important to be genuine and authentic about your dating goals – whether you’re looking for something casual or a more serious relationship.
Here, eight people share the biggest challenges they faced after they got divorced and entered the modern dating world.
One problem with modern dating is that many dating profiles ‘seemed basically the same.’
After his divorce, Rusty Gaillard, 47, found dating again was made more complicated by the vague nature of online dating profiles.
“As much as I wanted to pick people based on their personality, I found all profiles were basically the same,” he told Business Insider. “I could tell much more about someone based on the kinds of photos they posted than anything. I looked for pictures that expressed some of the person’s personality, doing things they enjoy.”
He met his first post-divorce date for coffee via Match.com and said his goal was to find a potential partner, so he was as open and vulnerable as he could be.
“If you want to attract someone who likes you for who you are, then be yourself,” he said. “If you’re using a dating app, write your profile and post pictures that are really you. Especially after divorce, it can be tempting to hide, pretend to be someone else, or try to attract a certain kind of person. But instead, be your real self.”
Jumping into the world of online dating can make people seem more cynical, one woman said.
Michelle, a 54-year-old who asked to withhold her last name, has been divorced three times.
“As a woman in her 50s, dating just isn’t as fun as it used to be,” she told Business Insider. “Between kids, divorces, mortgages, careers, and starting life over again, there are challenges in trying to find ‘the one’ for the last time.”
While she’d met her first two husbands in person – in high school and through her family – she met her third husband on Match.com in 2005. But she said online dating then was different than it is now.
“Online dating was new, and people were much more sincere about dating and less cynical,” she said. “Now, there are so many people who create fake accounts and try to scam people, and the newer generation of online dating creates a ‘sell your wares’ shopping mentality, like Amazon.”
Every so often, she’d sign up for a new dating site, but she began to realize that she missed familiarity so much, it became work to make the effort to tell her story over and over again. It made her realize that she needed something different in a relationship.
“By my age now, I realize that I am no longer interested in dating, but would like to have a monogamous relationship that is comfortable, casual, and easy,” she said. “And if we ever live together, it would have to be in a duplex, because I really like my little world.”
One latecomer to the world of online dating said that not being in the same physical space as the person you’re interacting with has changed his approach to romance.
- Reuters/Eddie Keogh
Mike Darcey, a 55-year-old who was married for 20 years, said that “dating has definitely changed” since the last time he was single.
“Before I was married the first time, you had to physically be in the same space to meet someone new,” he told Business Insider.
But now, he said it seems being in the same space together is something that happens afterward.
“You are fed a significant amount of data, mostly propaganda, about a person before you decide to have real contact,” Darcey said. “It does feel like the art of having a face-to-face, eye-to-eye conversation has diminished greatly.”
He eventually got remarried – to someone he met offline.
One woman said she was surprised by how many people on dating apps seemed to be interested only in sex or short-term relationships. She called modern dating ‘an entirely new and scary world.’
- Iryna Inshyna/Shutterstock
Christine Michel Carter, a 33-year-old author on parenting, is a mother of two who is dating after her 10-year marriage ended in divorce.
“Man, is this a new world since I was single,” she told Business Insider in an email. “Facebook barely existed and MySpace was very popular.”
Her first post-divorce date was with a former boyfriend, but when it did not work out, she decided to try online dating.
“Dating these days is completely different,” she said. “The dates I had with complete strangers were awkward, as I’d been off the market for so long. It seemed commonplace to have an online dating profile and to be overly flirtatious on it, which I’m not very comfortable with.”
Carter was also surprised by the blatant interest in sex or a short-term relationship, she said, whereas she likes to build intimate relationships and connections with one person for a long time.
“It’s an entirely new and scary world, dating in 2019 – the attention spans, interest in getting to know someone, and overall mind games are so confusing to me,” she said. “I’ve met some nice gentlemen, but I’ve definitely met some people I wouldn’t take to the gas station, much less home to meet my kids.”
These days, she also prefers meeting dates in real life, such as colleagues through work, versus online.
“I find that much easier and more comfortable for an introvert like me,” she said.
Even the expectation of texting as a main method of communication is enough to rattle people who dated in the pre-internet era.
- Flickr / zoetnet
Glenn Allen, a 38-year-old who was married for 12 years, said the most shocking thing about dating today is how texting and social media have changed the way people communicate.
“When I was dating my ex-wife, we almost never texted – it was about eight years before the iPhone was even invented,” he told Business Insider. “We actually emailed and wrote each other notes a lot.”
But now, he said texting is a necessary part of keeping a relationship alive.
“If there’s a long space – days – between texts, the relationship feels ‘off’ and disconnected, and usually an indication that something’s not right,” Allen said.
He also said some dates have felt like people are interviewing for a spouse.
“I have been on the receiving end of that a few times, and it wrecks the date pretty fast,” he said.
Finally, the sheer size of the online dating pool can make it difficult for newcomers to tell who’s a good match and who’s even telling the truth.
- Shutterstock/pixelheadphoto digitalskillet
Divorce coach Dawn Burnett was married for 15 years, and post-divorce, most of her dates have come from dating apps like Bumble and Plenty of Fish.
Burnett said dating used to be simple – you met someone you liked when you were out at an event, or were introduced by friends and you started dating.
“Today, though, the internet has changed it all – there is a large pool of candidates to pick from and they are easily accessible, swipe right or swipe left,” she told Business Insider. “If you don’t like the one you met for a drink, move on. There are plenty to choose from – unless you are looking for quality.”
She also said she hopes the person who shows up matches their profile pictures or measures up to the person they made themselves out to be in their profile, and finding someone who’s loyal is harder to come by, too.
When it comes to dating after divorce, Burnett said it’s important to connect within.
“When you are happy with who you are you are, you will look for quality instead of trying to fill a void,” she said. “I know it has helped me in clearly and quickly identifying red flags. Dating is supposed to be fun: Don’t burn energy you don’t have to give away freely, and remember, you are the one who holds the power of choice at the end of the day.”