Dear Dating Coach,
I have been divorced for two years now, and I finally feel ready to date again and hopefully get remarried. I’m just feeling a bit overwhelmed and lost about the whole “shidduch process” at this stage of my life. The first time around I was 20 years old – I was set up fairly quickly and got married to the third guy I dated. This time, I have no idea where to begin. I feel like giving up and I haven’t even begun! Where do I start?
The first time I made Pesach, I wanted to throw in the chametz towel on day one. Was I supposed to just start peeling potatoes and hope for the best? How did the “cleaning” work? I found myself asking questions like, “Where would I hide if I was a Cheerio?” I was one step away from calling my mother and admitting that I had made a huge mistake thinking I could take on Pesach – until I realized that I needed to refocus and break down Yom Tov into much smaller parts that felt more manageable.
So, I made a list. (I love lists. Yes, they are a strange thing to love, but after all, this is supposed to be a safe space to share!) By deconstructing the entirety of the task, I was able to clearly see what I needed to do: Clean for Chametz. Buy Pots. Make a Menu. Kasher Kitchen. Cook. Pesach done. (Mic drop.)
I am so sorry that you went through a difficult time, and I’m sure that it took tremendous strength to get to where you are now. While it can feel daunting to start over again in dating, it can also be an exciting fresh start for you. You are not the same person you were at 20. You have age and experience in your back pocket and a more concrete understanding of what you are looking for in a future spouse. You know what you need, you know what you want, and I’m hoping you now know what you deserve.
Still, the journey can feel overwhelming as the path to new beginnings is often not clearly marked. So instead of envisioning a mountain that you can’t possibly scale, picture small hills that are easier to climb.
Step one: Call a shadchan. Today, we are blessed with shadchanim who cater to all sorts of demographics and groups – those who want to work with younger singles, older singles, or singles who have been married before. Find a shadchan who is happy to work with you and understands your position and hopes for the future.
Next, talk to your siblings or close relatives and ask them to speak to any trusted friends who may know someone for you. After that, if you work in a Jewish environment, tell your co-workers that you are ready to start dating so that they can keep you in mind. Then, tell your local rebbetzin and the neighbors that you feel close to. They may have been waiting for you to give them a sign that you are available again, and could have someone wonderful to set you up with.
The people who know and love you might not have approached you before because they wanted to offer you the respect and space you needed. They are not mind readers, so let them know that you are ready to date again so that they can help you. I’m sure they would all be thrilled to bring more joy into your life.
If someone interesting is suggested and he sounds promising to you, go out on a date. Date with honesty and integrity, and expect the same from the men you are set up with. Be cautious and take the time you need to make decisions that feel right to you. Speak to a dating coach or trusted rebbetzin when you are unsure, and trust yourself to make a choice that is right for you this second time around. Everybody is worthy of love and a partner who makes him or her happy. You will find that person. Don’t stop until you do.