Dear Wayne and Wanda,
My husband and I divorced last year after 12 years of marriage. Our parting was mutual and amicable, but still, it was a big change, and following the advice of many friends, I took some time to myself afterward — focused on getting my new home set up, took that trip to Hawaii he never wanted to take and spent time really reconnecting with friends.
So now I feel ready, finally, to start dating. I'm in my mid-30s, I have a steady job, and I would say I'm a pretty attractive woman. But I honestly have no idea where to start. My ex and I started dating right after high school and married young. When I met him back in 2002, no one had even imagined social media, much less dating apps.
Everyone keeps telling me to dive in to online dating but the thought fills me with dread. Online dating seems scary and risky. And meeting someone in person — well I wouldn't even know where to go to look. I'm also not even sure what I'm looking for. I might not be ready for something super serious, but I do feel very much that I want to be "out there" again and I am ready for some companionship. Advice?
Congrats on taking your time to ease back into the big, bad world of dating. Many divorcees don't — and subsequently launch too soon and are unprepared for relationships that rapidly become overwhelming.
So now that you've taken some "me time," where to start? I get it; "online dating" is a nebulous foreboding cloud of super scary unknown weirdness. But contrary to a shoddy slew of Lifetime movies, most online daters aren't creepers, psychos or stalkers. For many adults, it's an efficient way to narrow the field and meet like-minded folks.
Some advice on the online route: Each platform is slightly different and caters to a somewhat different audience. While they can all achieve similar outcomes — anything from a one-time hook-up to matrimony — it's best to select the one that appears to most align with what you want.
As you complete your profile, you'll be tempted to oversell yourself or overstate qualities. Don't. Because eventually if you did someone you're interested in, you'll meet, and it will take all of five seconds to detect where virtual reality and actual reality diverge. So just be yourself.
Like real dating, online dating takes time. So spend some time looking through potential matches. When and if you've connected with someone enough to arrange to meet, keep the first date short and simple and on mutual ground. You'll know pretty quickly whether you want to see him again. Good luck!
Welcome (back) to the jungle!
Since Wanda's guided you out of The Romantic Period and into the 21st century of online dating, I'll hip you to another side of the dating game. It's a crazy concept, but follow me … I've got a few examples to get you there.
You're at the coffee shop and see someone cute – time your visit to the soy milk around theirs and make a coffee conversation!
You're at a concert with friends and you see a hip hottie wearing the T-shirt of your favorite band/rapper/R&B diva/K-Pop star – go up and talk (or yell if it's loud) about how awesome (or disappointing) their new album is!
You're clipping into your skis for a glide around Hillside and a Nordic god/goddess skis up finishing their workout – ask them about the trail conditions and what kind of wax they prefer!
You're reading a romance advice column online and you … OK, you get my point. …
The majority of modern daters rely on apps to meet people, and that's totally cool because that's where everyone is hanging out. And if you want to give it a try and meet people there, go for it – you will definitely increase your odds of mingling.
But it also seems like the majority of humanity is so consumed in their devices while waiting for coffee, chilling between acts at a concert, or tracking their calorie burn and mileage after a workout that they miss opportunities to connect with interesting and potentially dateable people who are literally right in front of them.
(People stare at their phones so much these days that it's crazy how far eye contact and a smile go. It literally shocks people and makes their day. And if you mix in a "Hi" as you walk by, it's like you're a magical being sent from another galaxy to make Earthlings happy. Try it sometime …)
So if you want to meet someone cool, someone you have something in common with, someone you're attracted to, be present, be brave, follow your heart and start a conversation when inspired. Have fun!
Want to respond to a recent column, point out a dating trend, or ask Wanda and Wayne for wisdom regarding your love life? Give them a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.