Did you know there is an painless way to ease into dating again after a break up or divorce?
Get your feet wet before diving in, by doing practice dating. One recently single woman told me that she and her divorced friends found that having a few practice dates made it much easier to feel comfortable entering the dating world. They selected men whom they absolutely did not feel any romantic attraction to, as their dates. Everyone was clear about this and what the purpose was for the date.
Consider practice dating as a dress rehearsal for the real thing – and take it seriously.
It gives one the chance to make some mistakes, see what works and what needs improving. Whether it is a West End, Broadway, or children’s school play, they have a practice performance before the public one. This is the idea behind practice dating with a non-threatening opportunity to get some suggestions and encouragement.
Treat it as a real first date and take care to be well groomed and dressed according to the activity – edgy for an art gallery show or more refined for elegant dining. Go through all the motions of a date: do you arrive together or meet at a designated place, how to split expenses, determining the time frame of it. Think ahead about some good topics to discuss. Feedback at the end will include if you monopolized the conversation or shared too intimate details of your life. You are looking for balance.
How does one find someone who understands this get-together is just for practice?
Find a friend who is amenable and willing to give brutally frank feedback at the end. One man who was getting back into dating, asked his lesbian friend to give him a critique of his dating behavior. She enlightened him that he hardly gave the other person a chance to jump into the conversation. This was due more to nerves so he had to work on being okay with not trying to plug gaps in the dialogue. Let the other person have time to digest what is being said with some silence.
One of my employers said that several of her divorced friends did practice dating through the organization Rent A Friend. Part of their website is devoted to “Practice Dating” which states “Hire a friend to practice going out with you and give you the feedback you need to improve your dating.”
They stress that they are not a dating site or escort service. A website like this one, is another option if you cannot find a person to be your practice date. Her friends only needed between one to three practice dates before they felt relaxed enough to start dating.
Understand that feedback is crucial at the end of a practice date. The point is to learn from it, and not to be defensive.
The practice person points out how you come across on date, in order to ensure people will want to see you again. Someone may have an annoying habit that will be a turn-off for another. Examples are: constantly clearing one’s throat when not medically necessary, picking at or biting nails at the table, chewing with an open mouth and more.
People can be clueless about these behaviors and a practice date can bring it to an individual’s attention.
Sports require practice to improve one’s ability and dating can be like this too. A footballer is not going to score a goal without practice. A variation is to go on group dates which lesson performance pressure. There are others around the table to keep the conversation going and the mood lively. If feeling that your dating skills are shakey or out of date, consider having a practice date first.