If you’re diving back into the dating scene post-divorce, the complexities of this terrain may make you feel like you’re in a foreign land without a map. And you’re not alone in your confusion! Former NFL football star Jay Cutler, recently split from TV personality Kristin Cavallari, had this to say in Page Six about post-divorce dating:
“The whole landscape has changed. There are apps, there’s Twitter, there’s Instagram, it’s a whole different ball game. You’re not just walking into a restaurant or bar and talking to somebody. That doesn’t exist anymore.” Cutler also reported that having children had changed his priorities and he could no longer date “selfishly.”
Cutler’s comments are certainly proof that modern-day dating can befuddle any divorced person, celebrity or not. So here are some tips to help you navigate online dating safely, and find Mr. or Ms. Right.
A Guide To Dating Apps
How to choose among the plethora of dating apps? First, identify what you’re looking for. Casual or serious? Faith-based or secular? Same age bracket? Similar socioeconomic background?
Then, know which app is designed for people looking for the same things. This way you’re less likely to waste your time, or anyone else’s. Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular dating apps:
- Match – Match boasts the largest and broadest user base of any app and aims to match compatible members. Think of it like a huge stadium filled with all ages and walks of life.
- Bumble – Women make the first move on this app. You have 24 hours to respond to a message before it disappears, so you need to check the app daily.
- Hinge – This app targets younger users who are looking for long-term relationships.
- OKCupid – The profile prompts are creative and probing, allowing users to get a good sense of a potential date’s values, intelligence, and sense of humor. Many users are looking for non-traditional relationships.
- EHarmony – This app has an extensive questionnaire and sign-up process in order to attract people hoping for substance and serious relationships.
- Tinder – The antithesis of EHarmony, Tinder’s easy-breezy sign-up and focus on photos attract users who want to keep things casual. You “swipe right” on people you are interested in. Be forewarned: this app has been likened to a “sex ATM.”
- Facebook Dating – You need to have a Facebook profile to use this service, which matches users who live within 100 miles of each other. And for those who value their privacy, Facebook Dating won’t connect you with any of your Facebook friends.
- Silver Singles – An app for the 50+ crowd, Silver Singles shares its database with Elite Singles, a site that attracts white-collar professionals.
- JDate – Although you may encounter users from other faiths, this special-interest app is designed for Jewish singles.
- Christian Mingle – Similar to JDate, this app targets Christians who want to date inside their faith.
- Grindr – A social networking and dating app designed for connecting members of the LGBTQ community.
- Tawkify – Tawkify is a match-making company — not an app – because professional matchmakers, not algorithms, determine your matches. Tawkify doesn’t come cheap, however; fees start at $600 a month.
Tips for Sane Post-Divorce Dating — And Finding Mr./Ms. Right
After exiting a miserable marriage, an understandable, yet unbridled, desire to have fun and see who’s out there may lead to regrettable choices: heartbreak, STDs, introducing kids to significant others who don’t stick around. You can still enjoy your post-divorce dating experiences by having a strategy to date wisely…
- Beware the rebound relationship. Be intentional about your level of commitment. Don’t let habit from your years being a “plus-one” compel you into getting serious with the next person who comes along. And don’t let competition with your ex influence your relationship choices. You need time to figure out your values and goals in order to identify Mr. or Ms. Right.
- Keep kids out of your dating life. Intoxication from post-divorce dating can dampen your good judgment and cause you to act impulsively. Pace yourself! Your kids don’t want to hear about your dating experiences, they certainly don’t need to be introduced to dates who don’t turn out to be “keepers,” and they don’t necessarily need a blended family structure. What they need is your sustained commitment to being a good parent and putting them first. Wait as long as you can before bringing a new partner into their life.
- Treat dating as information-gathering. Instead of searching manically for love, think of dating as an opportunity to meet different kinds of people and assess their genuine desirability — which has less to do with looks and sex appeal, and more to do with shared values, stability, and accountability. It’s fine if your mission is “just for fun,” but make sure you can distinguish a casual dating prospect from a viable long-term partner.
A final word of caution: don’t assume dating profiles are 100% accurate! Unfortunately, dating apps and social media platforms give “bad actors” ample opportunity for misrepresentation. People can and do lie about their age, their weight, their looks, and their intentions. Don’t let a charismatic future-faker who hits you on an app, or sends you a random message on Instagram, dazzle you into bed or divest you of your finances. People who have a genuine interest in you will respect your boundaries and want to take time getting to know you.
Bonus tip: Don’t lie on your own dating profile! If you are still going through a divorce, any misrepresentation you make about yourself could be used against you in your divorce. Have fun, but be honest and expect others to be honest too.