8 Dating Rules For Divorced Guys

For men who are dating again after the end of a marriage, we offer eight smart strategies to make mingling even easier.

By Leah Ingram

hen men begin dating again after divorce, they need to go back to basics to recapture their dating skills. “A guy’s got to ask himself, ‘When I’ve dated in the past, what have women liked and what can I do again?’” says Gayle Crist, a dating coach in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and author of How I Met My Second Husband Online at Age 50. If the marriage was a long-standing one, it may be hard to remember the specifics! So, here are eight simple rules divorced men need to know about dating.

Rule #1: Women want to be listened to and heard.
“The biggest complaint I hear about first dates is ‘He didn’t ask anything about me,’” says Crist, who offers dating seminars and one-on-one
Most women are willing to give a guy the benefit of the doubt.
dating coaching. “To her that says, ‘Oh, he must not be interested in me.’” If you’re nervous—and you talk non-stop when you’re nervous—tell her that. Most women are willing to give a guy the benefit of the doubt. “But if you do all of the talking again,” adds Crist, “then she’ll think that you’re self-centered.” And that’s not very attractive.

Rule #2: Women expect some level of chivalry, even in our modern world.
There’s nothing wrong with holding a door open for your date or offering to hang up her coat. Most women like their men to have manners. Another level of chivalry comes down to who pays for the first date. In Crist’s mind it should always be the man. “There’s not a single woman out there who doesn’t like it when the guy pays,” she says. If you’re not in a financial position to offer to pay for a meal out, then you probably shouldn’t be asking women out on dinner dates yet. There’s always the coffee date!

Rule #3: Women want compatibility, so emphasize your common ground early in the relationship.
A great way to find out how you’re alike is not only to ask questions about her (see advice above), but also to tell a few stories about yourself and then say something like, “Well, what about you?” Says Crist, “Asking something as simple as, ‘So, what do you like to do for fun?’ can go a long way.” Steer clear of questions about value systems and political opinions—you can save those heavy discussions for later dates.

Rule #4: Don’t rush the physical side of the relationship.
Nancy Michaels had to make it abundantly clear on a recent date that going out two times did not add up to sex. “Within five minutes of my inviting him in for a drink, he wanted to know if I wanted the relationship to become intimate right then and there,” recalls Michaels, 44, of Concord, Massachusetts. “I sent him home, and I haven't heard a word since.” Crist wants to remind guys that they need to let the woman warm up to him before making a move. Even then only do so once she shows you some signs. “If she touches your arm or she slides over closer on the couch, those are the signs,” Crist says. “If he knows enough to be a little patient, he will win her over.”

Rule #5: Women don’t want to hear about your ex, at least not right away.
Crist says bringing up an ex in conversation is inappropriate for the first three or four dates. Melissa Galt recalls going on a first date with a man who kept referring to his ex as the spawn of Satan. Needless to say, that
“Men who are fathers tend to be the most attentive and loving kind of men.”
was their first and only date. “If he talks about his ex a lot, it means he’s not over her,” says Crist, “ and he has not separated himself from his past.” The only exception to this no-talking-about-your-ex rule is if you do so in the context of your kids. In fact, this could work in your favor, says Amber Kealey, 33, of Philadelphia. “Men who are fathers tend to be the most attentive and loving kind of men,” she says.

Rule #6: Look the part.
You don’t have to dress up as if you’re going to a black-tie event, but you do need to make an effort with your appearance. Galt says she only expects her dates to wear clean jeans and a button-down shirt—nothing too fancy. Crist understands why. “A woman wants to know that he’s trying to impress her and he takes pride in his appearance,” she says. “If he doesn’t go a little out of his way to look nice on the first meeting, it shows he just doesn’t care.”

Rule #7: Women are listeners, not fixers, and want their men to be the same.
Women listen to each other, nod in agreement, and offer their support for whatever their female friend is telling them. With guys, they may listen and nod, but then they start suggesting solutions to whatever they interpret to be the problem. “The only time he should offer to ‘fix’ something is if she’s asked him for his advice,” says Crist. Even then, she warns, don’t just jump in with your ideas. “He should try to bite his tongue and hear her out for two or three minutes. Even just a couple minutes of listening to her, looking her in the face and making eye contact,” adds Crist, “will make her feel as if you’re really paying attention to her.” And you will be.

Rule #8: Women want to know if you’re NOT interested in seeing her again.
If you don’t want to see her, she would prefer to know that rather than to be left wondering what’s going on. “He could say, “I just don’t feel the connection,’” suggests Crist. There’s not much you can do if the chemistry isn’t there, and she will appreciate your honesty. This way she can move on, and so can you.

Leah Ingram is the author of several books, including The Balanced Bride: Preparing Your Mind, Body and Spirit for Your Wedding and Beyond.
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