When you're online dating after divorce, you'll meet others who are in the same boat as you—dating post-divorce—but you'll also meet people who have never been married before.
Even if you match up with another "survivor," this person may ask a lot of intrusive questions about your divorce, whether it's face-to-face or over messages. It can be hard to handle these questions with tact, especially if you're dating with kids.
I have made a few mistakes in learning when to say something and not seem too guarded or private, and when not to say something and be too open, which is common.
Dating is a learning experience, just like everything else in life. So, expect to hit some bumps on the way down the road of love.
Do You Get Along with Your Ex?
If the answer is yes, this question isn't a problem; but when the answer is no, it's tricky, especially if you have children with this person and still are required to communicate with each other. On one hand, you don't want to bullsh*t the person and have him or her find out the truth—angrily so—later. On the other hand, you can dislike an ex and not have a great relationship, and still move on and date. How do you answer?
Here are some ideas when you're tied to a bad ex for the kids' sakes:
- We have our problems, but we have both moved on from each other.
- We don't always see eye-to-eye, but I accept that and just roll with it.
- We do our best for the kids. We don't love each other, but we're over each other.
- He/she isn't the nicest person in the world, but it's ok. I don’t let it get to me.
Now, if you're not tied to your ex with kids, but still experienced a bad divorce, there are other things you can say:
- We didn't part as friends, but that's okay. I lived and learned, and I'm happier for it.
- We don't speak anymore and have both moved on.
- We weren't a great match and so we don't speak now, but I wish him/her the best.
Okay, now you're saying: Laura—I don't wish him the best! Or: I don't always roll with it!
Here are some hard truths.
- It’s ok to fudge a little so as not to scare off a good match.
- You should try to roll with it—your ex won't change anyway. And if you don't, well then, you're the one eating all that anger and bad karma. Reconsider.
How Often Do You Have the Kids?
Okay, yes, you must be honest about this; however, if you have the kids a lot, or never, you can address this in a better way.
Don't Have Your Kids Often
This is not something to be discussed via messages. Personally, I find it a huge red flag when parents aren't active in the kids' lives. However, due to work or perhaps a distance or recent drug or other mental health recovery, you may not be seeing the kids as much as you would like to.
*Also, if you're in recovery, please avoid dating for a year—talk to a sponsor for advice. A divorce plus recovery can be crippling enough—adding dating is just scary pressure on top of it all.
Tell the person, you do see your kids and you'll share more in person. Expect a lot of questions. While some may prefer when others don't have kids to weigh down their dating life, as a parent, I find it unsettling if another parent is not active in the child's life.
Have Your Kids All the Time
This is my situation. I must admit, it's hard to know what to say. I have learned over time that there's no use being dishonest, but it's best to be honest in a positive way. If you're the one caring for your kids either 100% of the time—or, like me, close enough—these are some things you can say:
- My kids are with me most of the time, or always, and I love it. I love being a mom/dad, and I have a good life balance.
- Yes, my kids are with me most of the time, but yes, I still see adults too.
- Yes, my awesome kids are with me a lot, and we have a great time, but adult time is important too.
Be positive and honest at the same time. Sure, you may not have the best life balance yet, but if you want to get to know this person, clue him or her in that you're eager to try.
Questions About Your Finances
No one should be asking this stuff too quickly. If someone is, ditch this person! But, here are a few common scenarios you may find and how to address them:
Going Back to Work After Divorce and Regrouping Financially
Say so. But phrase it as: I just went back to work. It's been a huge change, but I'm eager to get my career running and I'm rebuilding myself. It's been an exciting time.
Living with Parents After Divorce
This is harder for men, who are supposed to be "providers." Here are some things you can say to ease the potential tension of the matter:
- I wanted to find a way to save so I could come out stronger.
- I have kids, and my parents have been a great support while I get on my feet.
- This is just temporary, and I can't wait to be back on my own, very soon.
Bad Credit, Thanks to Your Former Spouse
This sucks. And it's not easy to prove the matter, unless you become intimate with someone and can prove the situation. Honestly, this question shouldn't come up until later in the dating process, but when it does:
Be honest. 150%. Say marriage means your spouse's credit choices are your credit choices, and your former spouse didn't make the best choices. Unfortunately, this affected your credit too, but you're doing everything your financial advisor (yes, you better have spoken to one!) has advised you to get back on your feet again. And so far, the plan is faring well.
Was Your Divorce Ugly?
If your divorce was ugly, how do you deal with such a question? Here's one thing you don't do: you don't give someone the blow-by-blow details! Tell him or her it wasn't a smooth divorce, but it's done.
Don't share the ugliness until you've gotten to know the person well enough to know that he or she is not about to be scared off.
Moral of this dating story?
Stay positive. Withhold information that's not necessary until you feel a level of trust is established. Be honest enough at the start. Choose to reveal details face-to-face, and not via messages.