Keep Them Coming: Divorced and dating again

Open The Doors Coaching

Kristen Thomas. // Photo by Nicole Bissey

In early April 2020, I started to worry that stocking my new office circa early March was gonna result in me emailing Nebraska Furniture Mart about their return policy. However, a whopping 20 days into the pandemic—in less time than it took me to start contemplating divorcing my new couch—there was a spike in searches about marital separation.

According to data collected by LegalTemplates, April 13 saw searches up 57% compared to mid-February.

Official data has not yet been released from the Census Bureau for the last two years, but the number of online searches about separation and divorce, the increase in downloads of legal documents for divorces, and the number of filings reported by municipalities across the U.S. show that there was a significant spike in couples parting ways in 2020 and 2021.

As divorce attorneys and my clients have been saying, conditions were such that couples who were holding on by a thread—or thought they were okay—threw in the towel once they were home all the time and had to face some harsh realities.

This means I’ve gotten to help a lot of semi-newbies entering the dating market. They aren’t new to dating completely, but it’s been a hot minute since they were single, and the dating world is not the same as it was when they were last in it.

I love when clients and friends who are freshly out of long-term relationships come to me for dating advice—and I know how overwhelming it can get. Most folks don’t even know where to start. So, let this be your three-step checklist.

Do you even swipe, bro?

Some of these divorcees have never used a dating app; a few figured it out quickly, and others needed a tutorial. It’s adorable, humorous, and reminiscent of late-‘90s grandparents learning to use email. But more than anything, it’s brave that they’re learning this new skill and putting themselves out there!

This is necessary because you can’t really escape online dating these days. Estimates show around 51 million U.S. users of dating apps last year. Considering around 50% of the adult population is single, that’s a huge portion of potential matches.

Additionally, data from a University of Chicago study found that couples who met online were more likely to have a longer and happier marriage.

Don’t be afraid to give online dating a chance—and don’t dismiss the possibility of meeting someone organically in real life. You could still have your dreamy meet-cute at a small get-together at a friend’s house! Be present and pay attention to people around you because you never know when you could meet someone you connect with.

In other words, give both ways a shot.

Laws of attraction

So, how do you get the attention of those potential matches you’ll actually be attracted to? First, you have to do what some elder in your life probably told you plenty of times as a kid—be yourself. By either crafting a profile that is authentically you or acting naturally in public, you will draw in the people that are like you.

When you’re done messing around in an unhappy relationship, why then date someone that doesn’t line up with your needs and desires, whether or not you’re dating casually? Let your freak flag fly! Someone out there’s gonna love how it looks.

The second part of attracting people? Be clear with yourself about what you want in a partner. Knowing if you’re in a friends-with-benefits phase or if you’re ready for something committed—then stating that to others—is vital.

When you’re communicating these wants and needs with a potential partner, always frame things in the positive. You’ll get a lot further saying, “I want a serious relationship,” rather than, “I don’t like fucking around for fun.”

This method of intentional dating has been covered by Time Magazine, USA Today, and other publications as a way to have more fun while dating and have an easier time connecting with others. You’re also less likely to experience first-date burnout by having fewer dates, but higher quality dates.

How do you date safely these days?

A common concern that’s existed since the advent of digital dating is safety. In a pandemic, that takes on new meaning. No longer is the only concern making sure who someone doesn’t rob you or end up wearing your skin.

Most dating apps have added features that allow users to share their vaccination status, whether they’d like to meet virtually or in person, and whether they prefer to wear masks or not. You still need to understand how to avoid unsafe situations, no matter your gender.

Catfishing is still a real issue. Any profile that looks too good to be true probably is. It’s always smart to reverse image search a photo, especially if none of them look like candids or selfies. If you’re planning to meet up, ask for their full name first, and look them up online. They should exist somewhere.

I don’t buy it when I can’t find a single shred of evidence that someone exists online when they’re…dating online. That signals that you probably got a fake name, and it doesn’t matter why. Do not go out with them under any circumstance.

Once you’ve vetted the person and are pretty sure they’re real and not a creep, try to move to a video chat or phone call relatively soon. There’s now an in-app video call feature on my dating apps, so you don’t even have to give them your phone number. If you can have a good conversation for at least 15 minutes, then you’re more likely to have a great time in person.

Remember that burnout I referenced? Trust me. You will get burned out if you keep showing up for first dates and find that you have no chemistry and you want to dip. We’re going for quality, not quantity, after all!

Once they pass the phone call vibe check, you absolutely should meet in public the first time. Start off simple with coffee, a walk in the park, or a ball game. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. Go somewhere you can have a conversation with few distractions.

If at any time you get a bad vibe and you worry for your safety, fuck being polite. You owe people nothing if your gut is telling you that something is off. Your safety is your priority. You have my permission to end the date, sneak out the back, send up the Bat-Signal—whatever you need to do to extract yourself safely.


I wasn’t banking on the pandemic resulting in months of a lockdown that would force couples to face the issues in their relationships, nor am I glad that it happened. But it did happen, and people deserve to move on and find happiness and love in this crazy-ass world.

Also, trust me when I say there are some wonderful people on dating apps. I met my partner on Hinge!

Have fun, be safe, and go find the love you deserve.

You can find Kristen @OpenTheDoorsKC on Twitter or Check out her podcast Keep Them Coming.

Categories: Culture