Since my divorce at 39, dating has been confusing and challenging to say the least.
Unlike my friends, who’d remained single or had left relationships and marriages much sooner (I’d worked at my difficult marriage for 16 years), they’d grown into dating sophistication, starting with free dating sites, moving to those which have a fee and provide “matches,” and ending up swiping for whatever-happens.
That’s not for me, especially not now, during a pandemic.
But dating with discretion is no easy feat. One man called, saying he was given my name and phone number from his friend who owns a hairdresser salon which I once attended. No thanks, far too random for me!
Another was still mourning his late spouse who’d died 12 years prior. Sorry, but I’m not looking to soothe someone I’ve yet to meet.
A third man was promoting a sports team and thought I had “connections” (aka a hefty divorce settlement, but that wasn’t so. My ex-husband had insisted I sign a pre-nup.) No date.
My question: What is the safest way for a woman to start dating again, given the restrictions or reluctance on getting together in groups where you can assess people in person?
There are countless “group” get-togethers based on mutual interests through Zoom and other online chat platforms.
The “meetings” held for various teleconferences, or social relating over specific interests e.g. art, music, theatre, politics, science, etc. can provide the spark of inquiry to get more involved and also get to know a particular participant.
While some may live far from you, connections may be made, and begin the early stage of a friendship, as well as opening your mind to a larger environment.
If that’s too much chance of long-distance for you, scan the websites for closer-to-home interests, and start communicating online with others you meet virtually, at first.
Dating match-up apps may suit you, but here’s where you have to be as selective as the app-providers say they are. Read between the lines. Meet online-only for a few weeks of communications.
During that time, ask questions and don’t be shy about it: When was your most recent relationship? For how long? If he doesn’t eventually suggest meeting, ask him why… and be alert to what sound like weak excuses.
Only meet in person if you’re certain that you feel safe, and have a friend who’ll call to check on you. Even then, keep to social distancing. This is a time when initial dating should be little more than “a walk in the park.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the divorced woman who goes on dating apps and only wants companionship but finds that men want something more (August 8):
Reader – “The letter-writer cannot have a “problem” with men wanting sex, for these two reasons:
1- She’s using the wrong venue to find friends without benefits. Dating apps are almost solely for intimate relationships. There are other apps for “just friends.”
2- She does say she doesn't want sex on her profile BUT does she read whether the person she’s dating also says this on his profile?
If not, then it's her problem because she doesn't do her homework for her own sake.
There are basic facts to dating apps and everyone should accept their realities. We’re not here to fix them. That’s a job for app owners. We just have to check out/watch out for who we pick to go on a date.
FEEDBACK Regarding your regret at not changing a letter-writer’s reference to her “black sheep” brother (August 11):
Reader – “I understand the need to assure everyone that no malice was intended, but you could’ve also added that, in this instance, the use of the word “black” was appropriate and had no basis in racism or bigotry.
“A Google search shows the term originated from the occasional black sheep which are born into a flock of white sheep… as if to say, "not like us."
“You're always balanced and wise but we should resist the urge to add to the already too politically correct environment.”
Ellie – Thanks for the compliment but I see it as simply “correct” (not politically so) and worth pursuing, when potentially hurtful, discriminatory phrases are considered acceptable just because they’ve been around forever. What may’ve been okay long ago for sheep, is not okay for humans today.
Tip of the day:
Dating after years spent in a marriage or long relationship, requires learning technology skills at making new contacts and online assessments.