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Dating after divorce
by Sam Shmikler

Scores of newly divorced people are ready to enter the dating world. All those splits during the first half of this year are ready to come onto the market, in search of (pause for the *sigh*) soul mates. Fall is the kick-off month for the divorced model year. With the kids back in school and the high holidays in the rear view mirror, many new faces will appear on the online dating scene, and all sporting the exact same profiles.

As a divorced man, I’ve watched this scene many times. Prior to my divorce, my previous dating experience was during the Carter Administration. I was shocked to learn that the dating rituals of my youth were no longer relevant to my new status. But you’ll do better, because… you have me!

It’s just different. Dating after divorce has given me new found respect for arranged marriages. Our generation is the first in history that began our dating dodging our parents in order to have sex and will conclude our dating by dodging our children.

Here are some time tested tips to aid you in your search.

1. Watch out for the Instant Beshert. Be careful of anyone who on the first coffee meeting or meal declares you the person they have been looking for their entire lives. Twice this has happened to me. In both instances, they were wrong. Once, a woman told me as soon as she saw me enter the lobby, (pause for the *sigh*) “she knew.” I asked, “Knew what? That I was paying for dinner?” Basic rule #1: no emotional entry until after the entrée.

2. Who is emotionally available? After years on this topic, I’ve boiled it down to only three categories of people: 1) those who will never be available; 2) those who are available, but not to you and, 3) those who are available to you. Try spending your time with #3.

3. Don’t forget to pick. I mean, don’t forget it’s your choice too. Mere interest in you is not a sufficient reason to be with someone.

4. Psych yourself up for online dating. A huge number of responses isn’t always a good thing. Every single person who writes to you is convinced they are the ONLY person writing to you. Note: the entire process has all the dignity of hiring day laborers at Home Depot with eager applicants pushing their way toward your truck door.

Black Rock JCC5. Create a winning profile. Be positive without being syrupy. Show some gravitas without sounding like Eeyore. For G-d’s sake, spell check and if need be, convene a focus group on this topic. A winning profile is authentic and not laden with clichés. The old adage applies, ‘you can attract more flies with honey than with vinegar,’ but as someone once reminded me, ‘who the hell wants to attract flies?”

6. Read up on your competition. Please, please identify the most often viewed profiles online of YOUR gender and read what is actually selling in the marketplace. Product differentiation is the key. You need not appeal to the mass market but everyone needs a unique selling proposition.

7. Power pictures. We are all visual, face it. Stop nailing just us guys. But do your pictures match the text in the profile? Many men claim they live with a joie de vivre yet have pictures that look like Saddam at the time of capture. This is worth an investment in professional portraits. Women need only one of three things to get responses in their pictures: 1) a winning smile; 2) a hint of cleavage; or, 3) a cute dog. Two out of three and you are smokin’. No children’s pics, please. And please, pictures that are close to the subject, k? I already own a copy of Where’s Waldo, I don’t need more.

Black Rock JCC8. Watch your humor. People take this stuff way too seriously and I have been called on the carpet for what I thought was writing in a light vein. The Jdate police once nailed me for a personal profile homage to Rick James when I stated that what I learned from past relationships was: “when I say ‘shut up bitch,’ I MEAN shut up bitch. “

9. Reading other people’s profiles. Let me let you in on a little Jdate game I occasionally play with a pal up in the valley. It’s called “Guess What Went Wrong!” If you read many profiles closely you can actually figure out what doomed their last relationship.

10. A good question to ask on a first date. “When you go to a football game, and you see the team in a huddle, do you ever wonder if they are in there talking about you?”

11. Conduct a post conversation analysis. After you hang up, reflect on what percentage of the call was about: your past; your present; the other person’s past; or their present. Then ask how you felt about that. That’s your first indicator of reciprocity in the relationship.

12. Feed them. As a foodie and an accomplished cook, there is nothing more nurturing than feeding someone you care about or care to get to know. Dining works.

13. Who pays what? I don’t mind if a woman at some point offers to pay, but I feel it obligates me to put out. But if I don’t like her, I just won’t do it well. I suggest instead a simple rule of “the host pays.” It’s clean, it’s understood and there is no awkwardness.

14. When to have sex. A female friend, Marilyn, told me she tells all her Jdaters upfront that she won’t have sex with them until the sixth date. Then, she puts out on the third. Marilyn claims the performance she is able to get out of these guys is awesome. Like a Miniature Schnauzer at meal time. Marilyn highly recommends this approach.

Black Rock JCC15. Women: Be careful of men who claim they are into “the outdoors.” This is often a code word for the fact that they are homeless. Many homeless people who get into dating mask their status this way.

16. Men: If you must break up, do it early in the day. If a guy doesn’t break up with his woman by 11:00 am, he runs the risk of not being emotionally ready to date that night.

17. Leave the trail the way you found it. You do not have a right to negatively alter the emotional, psychological or self esteem path of the people you meet. Treat everyone with dignity as if they were going to be your only reference for the NEXT person you’ll meet.

18. People who are interested will pursue you. And conversely, if they don’t pursue you, they are not interested. Don’t worry. Everyone is just living their priorities. You will not run out of dateable people online.
There are always the ‘06’s.

Good luck. I raise my half-filled glass to you.

Sam Shmikler is a writer living in Los Angeles.
He can be reached at: sam@shmikler.com.


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