Latest update: February 10th, 2014
1. Set In Stone
Somehow when we were teenagers and dating for the first time, everything about our life was flexible. We could pick up and relocate, switch jobs, date someone without a job, and be carefree about future plans. Now after having had children and spouses, we can’t relocate, our jobs are fixed, the way we parent our kids is set, and there isn’t much flexibility. People either fit into your life as it is now or they don’t.
2. Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone
It helps to be flexible and step out of your comfort zone because you never know where your shidduch will come from. Be open to attending singles events, potluck mixed meals, new shuls, new restaurants, using a shadchan, putting your profile (and picture) on dating websites, and going on Facebook divorced groups like “Frum Divorce” and “Frum Divorced Singles.”
It’s important to make as many connections as possible. Just because you didn’t think you were compatible with someone you dated doesn’t mean his or her friend won’t be perfect for you. So be friendly and let your dates see you for the person that you are. After a date gone wrong, it’s important that neither person walk away feeling dejected.
3. How Do I Do My Research?
With the advent of Facebook, it’s so easy to check someone out. I do a search, look at our mutual friends and message the ones that I’m closest to with a request for information. If the person isn’t on Facebook, and I was set up through Saw You At Sinai or a shadchan, I start by calling his references.
I ask those references for names of other people who may know him (or her). It helps if you have a rabbi or friends who have contacts in the neighborhood he is from. It’s important to determine if this person is stable and has healthy relationships with others. Be careful of he said/she said information. Each side in a divorce has a story, and you have to sift through what you hear to make the best judgment possible. There is no fast and easy rule to determine the truth. However, if you’re still confused and not sure what to believe, you can start by feeling someone out over the phone or giving it a date or two to see.
4. Is He Date-able?
If someone has cheated, dealt with an addiction, was abusive, etc., should you automatically stay away? If you’re willing to be open, find out if that person has made strong efforts in therapy towards recovery. Are credible therapists backing him/her? Are there several years of recovery under his or her belt?
Are you taking a risk? Yes, but life is a risk and anyone can fall. You don’t know where anyone will be five years from now. With the proper support services and a strong will, sometimes a person is capable of change.
5. Our Religious Levels Are Different
Everyone has things he or she won’t compromise on religiously. If you’re willing to date someone who is traditional and growing, determine exactly what you can and can’t live without. You need to ask yourself if you can focus on the content of your date’s character instead of questioning his or her religious level. Can you appreciate that person without pushing him or her to grow at your pace? I believe that being mutually understanding and respectful of someone else can be grounds for a healthy relationship.
6. Just Divorced
If you are dating a newly divorced person (just got the get, with or without the civil), be prepared to hear a lot of venting about the ex. You will most probably hear about every issue in the marriage, explicit details about the civil divorce case – and a lot of negativity. It doesn’t matter how long someone has been separated or has a get without a civil divorce. There is something about the legal paperwork and the final proceedings that brings back all of the feelings surrounding a divorce. Although there are several exceptions, in general I would suggest allowing a person to heal for at least six months to a year after the civil divorce and get are finalized before agreeing to a date. A year is a good amount of time to transition and gain some distance and detachment from an ex-spouse. Hopefully he or she will have used the time to reflect, do some inner work, and process the marriage and divorce.Alanna Fine
About the Author: Alanna Fine, a clinical social worker, lives in Los Angeles with her son. She is involved in advocacy, awareness, and empowerment in the hope of initiating a system-wide change for the divorced community. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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