Saturday, October 30, 2010

Another 5 Don'ts for the First Date After Divorce

Divorce sucks. Even if it's ultra-friendly and mutual, it's still a situation we wouldn't wish on our most memorable high-school nemesis. There are all sorts of feelings we have to deal with afterwards: grief, frustration, low-self esteem, guilt, confusion, anger (plus about a hundred more over the course of recovery! When we're healed enough to dive back into the dating scene, a lot of those feelings still linger, and because the first date back and the process of getting to know new people in a romantic setting is part of bouncing back, it can be a very bumpy road. In a series of fifteen tips on how to deal with the First Date, here are the last five Don'ts to help keep that road as smooth as possible.

1) Don't stress if you find yourself acting totally weird. Be honest and laugh it off: "I'm sorry -- that was weird. I just started dating again after my divorce last year, and I'm afraid I'm a little nervous." Laying your cards out on the table can often release tension and make the night fun. Although it's perhaps not ideal to announce you're freshly divorced (your date may wonder if they're a rebound), letting them know you're nervous is flattering for them, and unless they're really not feeling it, being honest and making yourself a bit vulnerable by revealing what's really going on will definitely break the ice. Note: Make sure the conversation steers away from divorce and your past relationship after your explanation -- a simple "It just wasn't meant to be" will suffice if they ask what happened.

Even after all the mental pep-talks, you're still freaking out. Don't worry. If small talk makes you sweat and you feel like you're not going to have anything to say, prepare ahead of time. Sit down the day or week before and make an exhaustive list of everything you can think of that's interesting to you: places you've visited, things you're interested in (art, wine, cars, design, sports, etc.), your dreams, your job, your kids; and then make a cheat sheet to put in your pocket or purse. If, halfway through the date, you find yourself struggling for things to talk about, go to the bathroom and look at your list. Hopefully it will refresh your memory and give you conversational fodder for at least another 30 minutes.

3) Don't freak out if you clam up and can't think of anything to say. Instead, listen to your date talk. People LOVE to be listened to -- it's flattering to have that much attention paid to you. If you're just not feeling like talking (because you're nervous or you need a bit more time to get out of your shell), be the question instigator instead of the person on the receiving end. By asking interesting, open-ended questions (What's your dream vacation? Where would you most want to live if you could live anywhere? Dream job?), you can keep up the listening for quite a while, which will hopefully be enough time for you to get comfortable.

4) Don't stick around if there's no connection. It's OK to bail. There's no law that says you need to suffer through three hours of an awful date. It's a great idea to make the first part of the date drinks or coffee-based (which should take about 20 minutes if it's bad, and however long you want if it's good), and then only suggest dinner if things go well. That way, if things suck and you're just not feeling it, you can bail after the drinks (by saying you have other plans) and your date is none the wiser.

5) Don't overdo it on the Pinot Noir. It can be very tempting to imbibe more than usual in a potentially uncomfortable situation (like a first date after a disastrous break-up.) However, drinking to the point of lowered inhibitions seldom turns out as well as we would hope. Drinking heavily has the nasty side effect of magnifying whatever emotions we were feeling before we had one too many, and when we're in a situation where emotions are high, this can be a recipe for disaster (venting about your ex to your unsuspecting first date is not advised). Know your limit and take care not to overdo it (as tempting as the liquid courage may be.)

Because the First Date is a natural part of the healing and bouncing back process, it's a good time to be a little selfish and focus on you -- how you're feeling, whether or not you're ready, and if this is what you want to be doing right now. There's no "right time" or "should" in bouncing back from divorce. It's an at-your-own-pace sort of situation. The First Date is pretty much always going to be a little scary, a lot nerve-wracking and somewhat bumpy, so take your time, enjoy the ride and don't worry if a break is needed every now and again to take stock and figure out if you're still on the right road.

Originally published by BounceBack, LLC on, where I'm the dating expert.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Flying Solo = Win

Think about the last time you fell into one of those random but awesome conversations with someone: maybe it was at the coffee shop, the bookstore, at the farmer’s market or at happy hour. Chances are good that both you and the random-conversation-someone were both cruising solo (or at least were temporarily separated from your respective groups.)

This is because it’s waaaaaaaaay easier to talk to people when they’re not surrounded by a huge group of their fifteen closest friends (or even just plus one or two). And while your new crush hanging in a large group is not an insurmountable challenge, it’s a hell of lot easier to engineer a “random” conversation with them when they’re separated or are by themselves. Conversation itself is a lot less intimidating when it’s one on one, versus trying to engage two or three or ten other people at the same time, and most of us are far more comfortable with random conversation with attractive people we don’t know when there’s just one of them.

So, in the interest of making it easier for those who may want to talk to you, consider flying solo the next time you want to be out and about. Or, if that seems totally crazy, separate yourself from the peeps for a while the next time you’re out with them and give the 98% of the population who shudders at the thought of approaching a large group a chance to talk to you. Friends rock for lots of reasons, but can unfortunately act as a giant deflector shield when there’s someone cute who wants to talk to you.

Coffee shops, bookstores, farmer’s markets, happy hours, concerts, festivals — all are great places to meet cool people without deviating from your normal going-out patterns. And snagging another microbrew, latte or giving in to your truly epic need to continue the search for the perfect kumquat are all great excuses to be on your own for a bit (and make yourself available to awesome conversation with attractive people you don’t know yet).

Yours in random awesomeness, S

Originally published on the blog (a new dating site that matches people based on music, movies and book likes and dislikes), where I am the weekly love/relationships contributor.

(Image by:
John Althouse Cohen)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Dating Dish: Don't Wait, Initiate - How to Make the First Move

This is the next installment of my monthly column, Dating Dish, for Girl Power HourDating Dish is a monthly feature that brings you hot dating tips and sassy how tos to keep your dating life sexy. Enjoy!

Don't Wait, Initiate - How to Make the First Move

Monday, October 4, 2010

Why Coffee Shops Rock

I have a theory: Coffee shops may be the new bars, in terms of finding your next date. My job requires me to write for several hours a day, and so coffee shops are my office. There are lots of others who also call my office their office, both during the daylight hours and at night. My favorite coffee shop has several community tables, and conversation abounds when we get bored (which happens quite frequently). Because we’re all usually by ourselves, it’s ridiculously easy to start (or join in) a conversation with those in the vicinity, also clicking away at their variously branded laptops. Even on those days when I’m occupying my own table, there are always people within two or three feet of me at other tables, so it’s an equally talkative situation.

The conversations are random, and usually quite entertaining. Today, for example, I got into a conversation about the merits of pedicures with two guys, one of whom swore by the weekly pedicure as the most relaxing two hours he spends every week and was trying to convince his (doubtful) friend to jump on the bandwagon. I want to know where he’s getting a two-hour pedicure, and also am now very curious about what percentage of the male population has their feet groomed on a semi-regular basis. Entertaining, interesting and random = awesome.

Everyone is friendly, and because coffee shops are not (yet) labeled as meat markets where we actively troll for dates, people are open to conversation and usually quite happy to talk. Friendly atmospheres are conducive to making connections more than sexy atmospheres, because there’s no pressure — after all, we’re not immediately judging one another by how hot we find the other person, but rather by what they say and how we interact. This is so much easier, comfortable and less intense than trying to talk to people in bars. There’s no need for elaborate pick-up techniques in coffee shops either — complimenting someone on their choice of witty t-shirt is more than enough to start a fun conversation. Win.

While I’m on the subject, I do have one minor question to throw out into the universe about the ambient temperatures of coffee shops across the world: I know that some coffee places don’t enjoy us freelancers hogging their tables all day (and I try to be sensitive to the vibe of a place before I settle in for a few hours), but is it really necessary to keep the interior temperature at an icy 60-65 F? My hands are turning blue as I write this…

Yours in rice milk chai lattes, the occasional americano and witty conversation, S

Originally published on the blog (a new dating site that matches people based on music, movies and book likes and dislikes), where I am the weekly love/relationships contributor.

Photo Credit:
Ballistik Coffee Boy