It recently occurred to me that returning to dating after an extended absence and a divorce has its own set of challenges somewhat similar in nature. Last year I wrote an article about returning to work after an extended absence as a stay-at-home mom (‘Leave The Job, Not The Workforce’).
When I began my quest for the right job, I was told to:
- Study the market. Ask, ‘Where do I want to situate myself?’ ‘Where do entrances to the market exist?’
- Self-evaluate. Figure out what I am good at and position myself according to my skills.
- Build confidence. Work on finding myself. Think about how I am special and what makes me attractive to a prospective employer or client. Then ‘work it.’
- Network. Start telling everyone I know I am looking for work. Ask for advice, guidance, and ‘informational interviews.’
- Make myself available. Open myself to new possibilities, angles, and opportunities.
- Follow up. Write thank you notes and show my gratitude whenever appropriate.
- Learn from experience. Recognize there’s always a lesson to be gleaned. If there isn’t, then I know I’m not paying close enough attention.
- Move on. Don’t take rejection personally when faced with it because — let’s face it — we have all been rejected at one time or another.
I embarked on my job search with much trepidation. I had no confidence and no belief anyone would hire a middle-aged former stay-at-home mom. I felt I needed to gather more and more information and get more and more education so I would be ‘the best candidate’ out there. And so I began my journey.
About 10 years and several jobs later, I started my own company and am enjoying new successes each day.
Now, as I ‘re-enter’ the dating world after a 25-year absence, it occurs to me that going back to dating is not so unlike going back to work. The same advice I received about jumpstarting my professional life also applies to my dating life! Here’s what I did and what you can do, too:
- Study the market. It’s no secret the dating ‘market’ has changed substantially. Today, online dating is the resource of choice for finding new partners, thereby creating more flexibility and choice than ever before. Dating a younger man, for example, is now socially acceptable whereas when I was 25 it wasn’t something I really thought about or realistically could think about.
- Self-evaluate. What are you looking for in a prospective partner? Do you value kindness? Generosity? Is physical attractiveness important to you? How about age? Financial stability? Do you mind if your prospective partner has children? What makes you happy, and what doesn’t? Where are you willing to compromise, and what’s non-negotiable in a partner?
- Build confidence. Work on finding yourself. Think about how you are special and what makes you attractive to someone. Then ‘work it.’
- Network. Let the world know you are available (ideally in a discreet way). Ask your friends and family if they know anyone for you. Join special interest groups and Meetups. Smile and start random conversations wherever you can (the grocery store, on line at the movies, wherever). Put yourself out there!
- Reach out. Invite people you meet to join you for a visit to the museum or a bike ride. It’s less threatening than sitting across the table from someone new. Don’t be afraid to take a risk!
- Follow up. Decide whether or not you want to follow up (here’s where there’s a slight divergence from looking for a job). If you like the person, let them know! Send an email telling them what you like or, if that’s too scary, send them something you saw on the Internet that might spark their interest based on what you learned about them.
- Learn from experience. Again, there’s always a lesson to be gleaned. If there isn’t, then you need to pay closer attention. Even “bad” dates are educational.
- Move on. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, don’t take rejection personally. We all know there are plenty of fish in the sea. Just remember, you are a great catch, too!