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"Beware of all the d***heads." 8 women on the reality of dating after divorce.

Some names have been changed for privacy reasons. 

Frustrating. Life-changing. Overrated. Exciting. Terrifying. New.

These are just some of the words women used to describe the reality of dating after divorce.

For them, and many women, jumping back into the dating scene often involves navigating the uncharted waters of online dating, social media, single parenthood and the grey area between separation and divorce, all while trying to find a new sense of confidence and independence.

Watch: The Mamamia team confess their relationship deal breakers. Post continues below. 


Video via Mamamia.

But while there are challenges that come with dating after divorce, there are also unexpected benefits like the freedom to try new things, the wisdom of knowing what to look for in a partner and the excitement of finding new love again.

To find out what it's really like to date after divorce, we asked eight divorced women who are now single or in new relationships to share their experiences and the advice that they would give to other women.

Here's what they said. 

"It is a minefield having to navigate the dating scene." - Jayne, single, separated 12 years ago. 

"It is a minefield having to navigate the dating scene. Online dating wasn’t a thing when I met my ex (the internet didn’t exist), so knowing which sites to go to and which ones to avoid has all been a learning experience. It’s also very frustrating trying to make a conversation with someone via text. I much prefer to meet people in person and go from there."

"I have two kids, aged 20 and 21. I consciously put my dating on hold when they went through the last years of school, so I could focus on them. The problem is, I never went back to dating once they finished school, as I fell out of that ‘habit’. I did introduce them to people I dated, once we had been together for over six weeks."

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Advice for other women: "So long as you are ready, and not just rebounding, then go for it. Just be aware of all the d***heads, be kind to yourself and strong in your values, and have fun."

'I have more confidence dating in my 30s than I did when I was 19.' - Nama, single, separated 11.5 years ago.  

"I dated a lot when I first separated, and it was so much fun. I was only 33, I'd been with my ex since I was 19, and I was so ready to meet new people. It did cost me a lot of money in babysitting, though, as [my son] Winston was only two. My parents offered to help out but I didn't want them to witness my new-found hedonism."

"I initially began seeing younger dudes, but the novelty wore off, and now I enjoy guys with whom I have more in common with and get what life is about... I definitely think dating in my 30s, I had more confidence than when I was single and 19... I've been set up a few times, and once I even dated my landlord for a while. That was always going to end badly!"

"My son is now 13, and he was two when I left [my ex]. Because I haven't had a solid relationship, I have always had a strict policy that no one should stay the night. It has been hard sometimes to make someone understand that Winston is my priority and it's something I've chosen to do - and I don't do it resentfully. I haven't met anyone worth breaching that. They'd have to be spectacular and/or Jonah Hill (I love a funny man). Also, I've been a stepparent and I know it's not easy. I don't want anyone here interfering with my parenting or alienating my son."

Advice for other women: "Just have fun. Don't call it a date, think of it as maybe finding a new friend (who might pay for dinner)."

"It took me two years after separating from husband to even consider dating." - Antica, engaged, separated nine years ago.

"It took me two years after separating from my husband to even consider dating. The dating scene was a nightmare. I believe that online dating should be avoided. What you see in a photo and read in carefully crafted profiles, is more often than not, a far stretch from the true person."

"The main challenge of dating after divorce was believing that it is ok to be on my own, and that there was no rush to move on to find 'the one'. The benefit was having the time to find my true self again and having the confidence to own it."

"My boys were babies when their dad and I separated so they had only ever known me on my own, as their mum. I devoted all of my time on my kids after separation. When I started seeing my now fiancé, I pretty much introduced them to each other early in the piece. My five-year-old twin boys and I were a package deal. After their first introduction, I actually said the words, 'you can run now if you like, I won’t hold it against you'... He didn’t run."

Advice for other women: "During the separation, if you have kids, pour your focus into your kids, they need you! Try and let go of the hurt, anger, hate, contempt, whatever it may be, it only consumes you and doesn’t bring you anything good. I know it sounds cliche, but don’t rush to move on, take the time to reflect on what once was and then only look forward. People always say you will meet someone when you aren’t looking and when you least expect it. Guess what? They saying exists, because it is true."

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"I’ve had more fun in the last six months than the last five years of my marriage put together." - Susan, single, separated one year ago. 

"I would have loved to say that single life was all I’d imagined. That I was riding a constant buzz of G&Ts, fancy dinner parties, gigs and concerts. I wasn’t. Or even that I’d grown immensely since my previous single days, and was clearer about who I was and what I wanted in a partner. I hadn’t. And this was never clearer to me, nor had I ever felt more like a mature age student trying to hang with the cool kids, than when I downloaded my first dating app."

"I was hit with a bevvy of washed up divorcees… or should I say unwashed? Don’t get me wrong. I love men. I’m a big fan. Throw me a Gosling-esque face with half the wit of Dan Levy and I’m all yours. Add in ‘good with kids’, ‘a penchant for red wine’ and ‘desire to head to Italy in the next five years’ and I’m out shopping for veils. Alas, no matter how many good deeds I was performing, the karmic app gods were not swiping me down this joyous matrimonial path."

"I have also been out with some ripping men, including a gin-slinging comedian, a sexy former AFL player and a gorgeous Irish man whose accent should be featured in all future porn films. I can’t complain. I’ve had more fun in the last six months than the last five years of my marriage put together, and more laughs with girlfriends over the disastrous dates than I can count (let’s just say, be wary of men in their late thirties who still live with their parents)."

Advice for other women: "Like everything in life, it’s all just a matter of perspective. If you want to focus on the negatives, app life can certainly be fickle, depressing and deflating. But if you pull up your big girl panties, shake off the ghosts and take the time to dig through the trash, you might just find yourself a rare little treasure. Preferably with an accent."

"Internet dating was not around before I got married, so that was a whole new experience." - Sarah, single, separated 10 years ago.

"Internet dating was not around before I was married, so that was a whole new experience to either embrace or run away from. People can also search you via social media now, so I have had some privacy concerns. I have tried online dating but didn’t like it. I would prefer to meet someone through mutual friends."

"I was really scared the first time I signed up with a profile, I was really anxious about who could see my photos or judgements from people. I didn’t like that people start a conversation and then just drop it and don’t continue, I found that people can be a bit rude and cold on there. I think some people just want hook ups and not a relationship, which wasn’t what I wanted. I did go on three dates with someone from online dating but then was completely ghosted with no explanation after that."

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"The challenges of dating after divorce are having confidence in yourself both in your appearance and ability to reconnect strongly with someone new. The benefits are that new partners know nothing about you! So history that you don’t want known can stay that way! It’s also exciting to feel new love again."

Advice for other women: "Take your time, learn things about yourself and why you may attract certain partners. Heal from any emotional stress first!"

Mamamia’s award-winning podcast The Split discusses navigating separation and starting over. Post continues below. 

'I started dating because it seemed like fun and I was ready to meet people.'- Tina, in a relationship, separated six years ago. 

"After spending so much time on my own, I was not really fussed about whether I found anyone to date. I really just started because it seemed like fun and I was ready to meet people and I think I was bored with being home alone with my cat and dog. I am secure in my work and in myself so I just saw dating as an adventure."

"Online dating is completely different, it didn't even exist when I was young and dating before. I knew some people who had success, so I gave it a go. It's a curious environment to find yourself in. A lot of men were very up front about what they wanted and to be honest I was very naïve - I was 20 the last time I did this and now I am 50! Also, of course, on a dating site, expectations are high. I would say it was exhausting, fun, and I hope I never have to do it again haha... I am seeing someone and we met online. We started texting, talked for ages on the phone, then by the time we met we knew a lot about each other already."

Advice for other women: "Just give it a go, you just never know who you will find. Its fun but you need to feel right about it and be willing to just see what happens. I was lucky, I didn't have to kiss any frogs but I reckon you need to be willing to do this for the sake of the experiment. Yes, it does feel like I social experiment. Also, don't rush into it, give yourself time to recover, regain your self and your confidence and know what you want. Then go for it."

"Men my age just didn't seem comfortable talking about my daughter." - Nicole, engaged, separated four and a half years ago. 

"I was 30 with a two-and-half-year-old daughter [when I was dating]. Men my age just didn't seem comfortable talking about my daughter. I would have conversations about her and they would move onto another subject."

"I never really 'dated' before. I kind of went from relationship to relationship but back then I was on similar paths to guys my age but when I was separated my life seemed so different to the men I was meeting who were close to my age. Until I met my fiancé who also had kids and is four years older than me... My daughter met my fiancé when I knew he might be something special. I found some men my age just weren't ready for a kid being around and I didn't pursue them further once I noticed they weren't ready."

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Advice for other women: "The first time you sleep with someone it will be weird especially if it's been quite a long number of years. Don't think too much."

"Dating after separation but before divorce was like having to tell your life story from the get-go." - Rachel, in a relationship, separated nine years ago. 

"The benefits of dating after marital separation is that you get to do your own thing without having to worry about what someone else wants you to do or not do. You get to flirt with as many people as you'd like as possible and you basically have the freedom to meet new people as often or as little as you want. No one has any form of control over you except yourself."

"The challenges of dating after marital separation were always the moments when you had to tell the person you were on a date with that you 'are still legally married BUT you are separated and it's all over don't worry'. Followed by explaining why you're getting divorced and answering questions on whether you have children. Dating after separation but before divorce was like having to tell your life story from the get-go just in case you liked them and didn't want to lie or cover up the truth and to ensure they accepted your situation from the start."

"I met my current partner on Tinder, we went on an awkward date and for some reason he wanted to meet up with me again. So I went to his place where he made dinner and I sent his address, my gps location and photos of his apartment building to my best friends just in case he ended up being a psycho or something. But that's how I navigated the online dating world, with safety always front of mind."

Advice for other women: "Don't look for a new husband, just enjoy yourself! The right person will come along when you least expect it or when you are completely over it. Be true to who you are and if they don't like you, move on honey, don't waste your time and energy on them. Don't stress yourself out if they don't reply, if they don't call, or if they don't show up. You have been through worse than that and you are a survivor of all things. Pick yourself up and keep going. Meet new people but take a break then you're exhausted or over it, but most importantly, stay safe."

What has your experience been like dating after divorce? Let us know in the comments below.

Feature Image: Getty/Mamamia.