Dating After Divorce: Reading the Signs

Anyone who has ended a relationship or marriage (or had someone else end it for them) knows that feeling ready to meet and date someone new takes time.  Some people feel comfortable more quickly than others – lucky them!  However, for those of us who have finally managed to leave behind codependent, controlling and/or emotionally abusive life partners, feeling ready can take a bit longer.  I understand this all too well because I left behind a couple of those partners on my own road.  It is so true that we especially need to take that time to heal, reflect, rebuild and decide what we really want (and don’t want) in a new partner.

So what happens when we finally DO feel ready to date again?  How do we get started?  Well, if you’re like me and just got started after not dating for over 20 years, the idea can be VERY scary!  My advice?  Just start!

Like anything else, dating well takes some practice.  As a divorced single mom for several years now, I have gathered a few decent strategies for any formerly isolated, controlled and/or under appreciated singles who are ready, willing and able to start dating again.

Assuming you have gone through your own personal readiness checklist to make sure you feel secure and confident enough to meet and talk to strangers, I highly recommend starting out by using an online dating site or community like the one here at Post Divorce Chronicles.  Online dating is a great way to get started.

Initially, it’s very comfy to check people out from behind your computer, without having to talk to them or deal with THEM checking YOU out in person!  Plus, you really have to think about what you want in a partner when you set up your dating profile.  In fact, it’s part of a very productive process of finding out more about your Self.  As a Self Discovery Expert and Truth Coach, I’m all for that!

Once you’ve declared your preferences on your profile, you can start searching for your “matches” or the people you are most likely to like.  Here is where things start to get interesting.  How do you know if a potential match is going to be the right person or just another controller in your chain of controlling ex-partners?  How can you tell if the new person will start to berate and demoralize you after the first few months of romance?  Relax – there are some obvious signs to watch out for.

Let’s call them red flags:

  • Your potential match picks apart or disrespects your profile, questions every little thing, or one-ups you on more than a few points
  • Your match already clocks your time on or off the dating site, impatient with how long it takes you to return messages or texts
  • If you start talking on the phone, your match sounds bossy, or never answers when you call him, or takes days instead of minutes or hours to return your messages, interrupts you when you’re talking (is he really listening?), voices his own opinion before you ask for it (and never asks for yours), or disagrees with you (and/or others) often

If somehow these signs go unnoticed or don’t show up by the time you agree to meet for a first date, then there are a few more flags to look for:

Body language

  • Is he too touchy-feely?  Does he respect your personal space?  Is he clearly asking for too much, too soon?
  • Eye contact: Does he look you in the eye when he talks to you?  Or is he looking at everyone else in the room?


  • Pay attention to what he actually says on the first few dates – the clues are ALL there right at the beginning
  • Does he talk about himself a lot or does he spend his time asking you 20 questions?
  • Does he talk about how he’s always in charge at work, in his past relationships, or with friends and family?  This alone might not be a problem – he might be a real leader, with real responsibilities.  That’s okay.  It’s HOW he talks about it: Does he brag or drone through a long monologue?  There’s your flag.
  • Or is it the complete opposite:  Is he guarded, tight-lipped, secretive or mysterious?  While silence often indicates simple shyness, purposeful holding back of words could also be a sign of controlling behavior, as in “the silent treatment”.


  • While at a restaurant, does he order food for you without asking you what you want to eat?
  • Does he let you decide where to sit?
  • Does he get uptight about the service?
  • Does he send the food back, complain or get angry?
  • Does he complain a lot in general?

These are just a few of my first date red flags, based on my own experiences.  When a potential partner demonstrates several of these behaviors, then it’s likely that person is a controller, at the very least.  As I said, some of these points may seem obvious on paper, but on a first date, when we really want things to go well, it’s very easy to overlook them.

My advice?  Pay attention!  The signs are everywhere, right from the beginning.  It is up to us to read them.