Saturday, November 27, 2010

Dating Before Your Divorce Is Final: How to Break the News You're Not Officially Single Yet

As if getting a divorce isn't a big enough hurdle to get through, it can often take many months, even years, to finalize the paperwork. And when your paper divorce trails far behind your emotional divorce -- as in, you're dating again because you're completely over your ex, but your papers are still stuck in court -- it can create some awkward moments with your new dates. When do you tell them? How do you make it clear that you're completely committed to moving on, even though it's going to be another year before you have the official "I'm single" piece of paper?

Here are three tips to help you navigate those murky post-breakup, pre-officially-divorced waters:

1. When do you drop the news? Waiting until things get more serious can make it sound like you've been deliberately keeping a secret, which can put cracks in any trust that's begun to form between you and your new potential love. On the other hand, dropping the news 15 minutes into your first date with them can be really intense and awkward, as well as making a bigger deal out of it than need be. The best bet is to do it sometime during the second or third date, when you know that you actually like this person and could potentially see things going somewhere.

2. How do you tell them? The most organic way is to let them know if it comes up in conversation, i.e. if you're asked about your past relationships. There's no need to make a huge deal out of it: a simple "My ex-husband/wife and I ended things a couple years ago, and the divorce should be finalized in about six months," (or however long it's going to be), is all that's necessary. If the topic doesn't look like it's going to come up naturally, wait for a pause in the conversation, take their hands and say something like: "I like you, and I would definitely like to see if this goes somewhere. However, in the name of full disclosure, I should let you know that although I am completely single emotionally, I'm technically still married. The divorce papers are the courts right now, and should be finalized sometime in the next six months."

3. How do you make it clear things are OVER with your ex? If your new potential significant other has any misgivings about finding out you're still technically married, their insecurities will most likely come up in the days following your announcement. To prevent as much insecurity as possible, it can help immensely to give a very brief description of what happened ("The spark was gone and we decided it was better to go our separate ways," or "S/he was unfaithful, so we decided to end things,") plus an assurance that you've worked through what happened and are completely 100% ready to move forward. That way, they won't sit there, wonder what happened and fret over whether or not you're actually over it. Avoid diving fully into what happened: on only the second or third date, this is potentially TMI. But a short, sweet and non-angry description (if you're still actively and uncontrollably hurt or angry, you may have some more work to do to move completely through it) of what happened should help alleviate any fears your date may have.

Divorce and the requisite scars that the dissolution of a long-term relationship can leave behind can take a while to heal, and there's no "right way" or time-frame to move on. For some, the readiness to move forward and onward happens waaaaay before the divorce papers are finalized, and for others, it takes a little longer. Only we can tell when we're ready to find love again.

Originally published by BounceBack, LLC on, where I'm the dating expert, as well as on Yahoo! Shine

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dating Dish: 5 First Date Awkward Bombs and How to Handle Them

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!

5 First Date Awkward Bombs and How to Handle Them

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How to Approach the Holidays With a New Significant Other in Your Life

When you've got a new somebody in your life after breaking up with an old somebody (especially if the old somebody was around for a while and became a fixture at your family events), the introduction of your new significant other to your family -- at events like Christmas -- has the potential to be awkward, stressful and filled with potential social landmines.

Here are five tips to avoid the most common bouts of awkwardness during the holidays:

1. Keep the pressure low. Meeting the parents is still just as big a deal as it was in high school, and can hold a lot of significance in relationships. That said, Thanksgiving is a great event to extend the invitation, because it's a holiday built around sharing food, company and having a good time. Friends come, there's always the last minute random whose plans fell through and joins in the joviality and it generally has a the-more-the-merrier vibe, which all contribute to keep the pressure of "meeting the family" lower than a Sunday dinner with your extended family where your date is the only newcomer.

2. Prep your new flame. When you're in a situation where the last few family holidays included your ex, it's important to give your new amour a heads up that although your family is great and will love her/him, s/he'll probably be the object of some curiosity and to expect to be popular, based purely on the fact that s/he is new in your life. To put them at ease, give them background information (including funny stories) on each of your family members and how everyone relates to each other as well as any relevant drama they might stumble into, so they're aware of who everyone is and what's going on. If there's a topic of conversation they should avoid (for example, any deaths in the family, recent or otherwise, so that they don't ask where someone is and feel awful for bringing it up), let them know, but otherwise don't stress about what to or not to talk about -- you like your new signifiant other, and your family will too.

3. Prep your family. Suddenly showing up with someone new when you've had the same date for the last four years to all family functions is a great way to create some really awkward conversations during dinner. It's far better is to prep your family members beforehand that you'll be bringing a new date, that you're very happy with this new person, and you'd appreciate their full acceptance of them as well as any avoidance of discussion of your ex, your break-up and/or any conversations that compare your new flame to your ex over the sweet potatoes.

4. Control the conversation. Despite your prepping, your great aunt Betty asks you point blank what happened to that "nice girl/boy" who came to last year's holiday dinner. This is so awkward it will be entertaining in retrospect, but at the time, say that things didn't work out with your ex, that you're now very happy and with your current date and change the subject to something Great Aunt Betty loves to talk about, like her upcoming cruise to Mexico.

5. Smile and change the subject. After dinner and after too much Pinot Noir, your various family members open the floodgates of awkwardness with questions about everything you asked them to avoid. Try to remember that your family loves you and they just want to you be happy, and any probing and awkward questions they ask are a function of that. Control the conversation as best you can by changing the subject and asking about them and their lives. For example, let's say you and your ex used to love to go antique shopping together and it was always a great topic of conversation at previous family get-togethers. If you get an awkward question like, "Does s/he like to antique with you like [your ex's name] did?", you can reply with something like, "[Your date's name] loves to sail, and so we've been spending a lot of time doing that. Uncle Bob, I know you windsurf. Have you been out on the water much recently? It's been beautiful."

Part of moving forward and bouncing back after a break-up is dating again, and eventually, the time comes to introduce a new significant other to your family. There are bound to be some bumps along the way to fitting this new person completely in your life, because change is challenging and if your previous relationship was a long one, there can be a lot of inertia for your family to get through. However, ultimately your goal is to be happy, and if this new person makes you happy, your family will come around, even if they inadvertently make it awkward in the process. And isn't that one of the things that makes family great?

Originally published by BounceBack, LLC on, where I'm the dating expert, as well as on Yahoo! Shine.

Monday, November 8, 2010

How to Handle Awkward Questions About Your Love Life (or Lack Thereof)

When things fizzle in a relationship, there's a step after the actual parting of ways that can seem like cruel and unusual punishment: having to tell everyone that our relationship status has changed. Relaying the news to our inner circles is usually fairly painless, but if our relationship was a long one and especially if shared family holidays and work parties were involved, the post break-up aftermath can seem never-ending and a particularly hellish form of torture. Well meaning friends, co-workers and family members all want to know what happened, want to give us advice and sometimes seem hell-bent on setting us up immediately with their neighbor's best friend's cousin's son/daughter. 

When the absolute last thing we want to do is rehash what happened and jump into something new, how do we navigate this social mine-field without alienating people and coming across like a hot mess when we freak out when asked one question too many?

1) Keep your cool. Even though it royally sucks to have to field questions about what happened (especially when you JUST managed to not think about your ex every five minutes), most of the people you ask said questions mean well and care about you. Plaster a smile on your face, assure them you're fine and that things just "didn't work out."

2) Change the subject. When dealing with a socially sensitive questioner, sometimes a simple change of subject can be enough to dissuade any further discussion on the topic: "Nope - I'm not really dating anyone special. So - how about that game last night?"

3) Control the conversation. Even though the questions are directed at you, an easy trick to deflect the attention and move into new (less annoying and painful) territory is to give a short answer to their question, and then turn the questions on them: "I'm doing great, thanks - and how are you and Robert doing? Where are you going on vacation this year?" Hopefully they'll be so distracted talking about their vacation plans, they'll forget to focus on you.

4) If they persist, be firm. Your break-up is no one's business but yours, and you are perfectly within your right to not talk about it if you don't want to. When dealing with a more pushy questioner who won't drop the subject, despite your attempts to talk about something else, sometimes a firmer hand is required: "I appreciate your concern, but I'd really rather not talk about this anymore. Why don't you tell me about your new project at work?"

5) If all else fails, walk away. Finding an excuse to leave the conversation is a perfectly acceptable response to being grilled about what happened between you and your ex. Simply say "Excuse me, but I just saw my friend walk in the door / need another drink / need to use the bathroom" and bail.

Although the conversations about your well-being will be frequent and numerous at first, they'll mercifully die out quickly as word gets around. There will always be the family members who ask you point blank why you haven't found someone yet over the marshmallow roasted sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving dinner, but hopefully those conversational gems are few and far between and can be viewed as humorous rather than bringing up a whole boatload of memories you're trying to bounce back from -- as is the case right after a break-up.

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

Saturday, November 6, 2010

5 Party Mingling Don'ts

Parties, depending on how social we're feeling on a particular day, are either something to be looked forward to and enjoyed with a "Best. Night. Ever" fervor, or are social nightmares to be dreaded and may cause psychosomatic flu-like symptoms hours before the event, keeping us (happily) contained to our couches watching re-runs of Sex and the City. No matter where we fall on this scale, we all have good days and bad days. After attending a party a couple weeks ago where all of the following five "don'ts" occurred more than once, here are some basic tips to (hopefully) make the upcoming party season as un-nightmarish and "Best. Night. Ever," as possible.

1) Avoid being a personal space invader. Sometimes, when we're in a small space with a lot of people, it's impossible not to get too close -- and that's fine. The forced invasion of personal space even provides something to joke and laugh about. But when there's plenty of room and someone gets thisclose (and they're not your best friend or significant other), it's very uncool. Culturally, personal space can vary, but a good rule of thumb is between a two and three feet away when you're having a conversation with someone at a party.

2) Don't be "That Girl/Guy" at the party. Whether it be alcohol or something more in the illegal realm, getting wasted to the point of blacking out or being out of control is rarely cool, especially when the person in question keeps swearing that they're not, in fact, over their limit.

3) Don't be a conversation hogger. Meeting new people is one of the best things about attending a party. Sometimes you can walk away with a new BFF, date and/or a giant pile of warm fuzzy feelings from an enjoyable night with awesome people. And sometimes, you can get stuck in a truly cringe-inducing conversation, where the other person is talking just to hear the sound of their own voice and although is asking you questions, isn't listening to a word you say. Nothing kills a conversation faster than having the person you're talking to ask you the same question multiple times because they weren't paying attention.

4) Avoid double dipping in mixed company. Going for the hummus, guacamole or delicious seven layered bean dip with the chip you just took a bite out of may be cool around your closest pals, but doing it at a party where you don't know everyone is not advised, for obvious reasons.

5) Don't gossip. Parties are great places for overhearing (read eavesdropping), and when you don't know everyone there, it's waaaaay to easy to get caught saying something you probably shouldn't be saying and having the person you're discussing find out. It's also a good idea to keep your (negative) opinions about the other party-goers to yourself -- you never know who might know the person you're talking about. Sticking to the old "Don't say anything if you don't have something nice to say," is a solid plan.

Potholes like the above are easy to avoid once we're aware of them (or have been guilty of them and felt moronic enough afterwards to avoid repeating the mistake). Even on those shy or "I don't want to go out" days, pulling together a good attitude about party-going and being social will make a huge difference as to whether or not the experience will rock . Parties are fantastic places to meet new people, make new connections and have a great time -- especially if we're enjoying the single life. Every cool new person we meet is going to know other cool people they can introduce us to, drastically widening our social circles and hugely upping the odds of finding our next date.

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

Monday, November 1, 2010

365/24/7 Halloween

Halloween is my favorite holiday, as it is for a lot of people. Besides the spooky factor, the candy and the ubiquitous availability of pumpkin lattes, it’s a night (or day, or weekend) that gives us all a pass to be anyone we want. We can show off our cleverness with a costume that makes everyone around us think “Why didn’t I think of that?” and we have full freedom to insert “Slutty” in front of almost any costume, wear as little as possible and get away with it, because it’s not only expected — it’s welcomed and applauded.

Why don’t we do this more often?

This freedom feels fantastic, and I think the vast majority of us would agree that that’s why Halloween rocks. But why should we only get to take a hit of it one or two nights a year (like this year -- yeah!)? This post serves as a call to happiness to encourage us to have costume parties year-round; to remember that being ourselves (whether that self channels Slutty Red-Riding Hood, Donatello the TMNT or The Situation) is something we should focus on, nurture and fully enjoy; and to live in a constant state of non-judgment — is there a non-judgier night than Halloween?

Yours in preserving the trick or treat spirit, 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 greyloch)