Jumping back into the dating game after divorce means a lot of different things to people. So to better understand what exactly that means and looks like, in February 2019 Worthy.com reached out to its community to do just that. As a result, over 1700 women responded to the survey! The results were amazing and provided information in real time what it means to start dating again.
The canvas of dating has changed in some ways mainly through the use of apps, which has profoundly affected people’s lives and how they date. But, what women want and need as well as their fears and who they turn to for comfort has also affected the dating game.
Here are five significant findings from the survey. The hope in sharing this information is to provide you what it means to date in 2019 and to understand that most women feel the same way, which provides us comfort and hope for the future as we navigate these often choppy and unfamiliar waters with uncertainty.
- Getting back out there. Divorce has its own path and seldom are any two situations the same. The process can last from a few months to years. But regardless people are getting back out there. The survey indicates that 78% of women have started to think about dating by the time they sign on the dotted line. To understand that number its equally important to know that 50% of women are thinking about dating in the early stages of divorce while 28% started thinking about dating once their divorce is final.
An interesting point about this is that divorce is no longer stigmatized the way it once was. This is not to say that people expect to get divorced, but they are not living under the cloak of being a ‘divorcee.’ They recognize that although it can and often is challenging to get back out there, divorce is not their last chapter, but just a chapter in the book called Life.
- Managing the emotional roller coaster. Divorce is an emotional roller coaster. We all know that. Dating post-divorce brings its own set of emotional challenges as well. The survey indicated that women feel scared (68%), insecure (64%), overwhelmed (61%, excited (68%), confident (40%), and hopeful (68%).
Fear has a way of keeping us stuck, feeling immobilized, preventing us from doing the things we want to do. What do women fear the most? Picking the wrong person, repeating old patterns of dating and relationships, not being able to trust another person (or in some ways, trust themselves), and not finding someone. All of these fears are so prevalent whether you are dating post-divorce or just dating again after a break up. The fears are real. Experience has taught me that repeating patterns of choosing a partner and thus having a bad ‘picker’ as well as not trusting themselves to make a good choice keeps a person’s fears alive and running through their head.
Yet, considering all of that and the mixture of emotions, what do I see? Hope. Despite feeling fearful, insecure and scared as most people do, they still are hopeful about their future, love, a new relationship, and life after their divorce. It is possible to hold two opposing feelings – for example, hope and fear – and still learn how to move through your divorce and embrace (eventually) dating. Finally, in all the upheaval that divorce can and often brings, women still are looking for a long term relationship (65%) but not necessarily marriage (13%). This is reflective of hope and the positive things that being in a relationship brings – companionship, comfort, consistency, intimacy, and deep love.
And while women are processing all of their emotions, they rely on their best friends the most (82%) to share their dating experiences and expectations. Women also turn to their family connecting (27%) and parents (23%). However, women are not turning to social media or divorce support network to help them through this challenging time in their life.
- Where women are looking for love. Times have changed from meeting in traditional places (church, work, school) even though to some degree that still happens. We are a transitory society. Most people no longer stay in the community in which they grew up in, choosing a life living elsewhere. That means cultivating relationships away from our roots and often means spending less time with family and old friends. So, to meet people, women turn to online dating to find a partner. It has become the ‘norm’ with people asking others, ‘so what dating site do you use?’
Women, ages 35-54, look for love online (59%). Digital dating continues to be the primary way people find love. It’s more convenient and by spreading your net wider than, the opportunities to meet different people expands exponentially. Dating sites Match (32%), Bumble (24%), Tinder (17%) and Zoosk (13%) rise to the top. However, not to be undone, meeting through mutual friends (48%) and chance meetings at local grocery stores or neighborhood shops (29%). Regardless, women are looking for love.
- The first date and who pay. Despite how far women have come and demanding more equality and who pays on the first date continues to be a hot topic of discussion with many different views and opinions. Research from the UK indicates 60% of women prefer to pay – and do. Reinforcing this decision is feeling confident and empowered and more in control. Yet, there is something about who pays on the first date for women that is equally interesting.
Women, despite our growth, report that when the man pays on the first date, it makes them feel special and courted. Confusing? Sure. Even for men. Men feel caught in the middle. On the one hand, they may get pleasure from paying on the first date, but should they infer this? Would this come across as chauvinistic? Especially with the #metoo movement, men are now more apprehensive than ever. And in fairness, I get it! Dating rules are changing and men get equally anxious about how to approach this delicate subject. It’s not just women.
- What women value the most. From past to present women are valuing things in a partner and reflective of our times. Over 90% of women, reported that shared values (85% ) being emotionally available (82%), lifestyle (68%), marital status (83%) and sexual compatibility (61%) were key traits that women are seeking. Being emotionally available is having the ability to be emotionally present. To be heard. To have the emotional bandwidth to just listen and not necessarily fix our problems. In times gone by, women were more influenced by religion, money, and physical appearance. But times have changed.
Women now outnumber men in terms of education (60% of women having more bachelors and master’s degrees) and are often likely to be more independently financially secure. Religion has become increasingly less important in people’s lives and although physical appearance is important for a healthy lifestyle, having a partner with shared values and lifestyle, who is emotionally present and available, is key for long-term relationship success and happiness.
What does all this mean for both men and women? Well, times have changed and they continue to change rapidly. But some things remain the same – the importance of shared values and lifestyle, love, hope for the future, and the ability to put ourselves out there, despite our fears and uncertainty.
In the end, finding and sustaining love remains the constant.