There’s no “surefire” way to meet Mr. or Ms. Right, but opening yourself up to different scenes and a variety of people will certainly increase your chances of success. Here are some tips on broadening your soulmate search and finding love after divorce.

By Jeffrey Cottrill

Dating can seem like a frightening prospect after you’ve been divorced. Chances are that you have the disadvantage of not having been in the dating scene for many years — and the rules and customs are constantly changing. Our fast-paced, busy work world today leaves us with little time to search seriously when dating after divorce. And then there’s the fear of embarrassment, humiliation, or just disappointment — especially if your marriage has just ended.

The good news about dating after divorce is that there is somebody out there who will be thrilled to share your life. You just have to expand your search to new areas. Finding a new partner is a numbers game: the more potential partners you meet and the more you date, the more likely you are to find the one who’s truly right for you. So it makes sense to broaden your social life and focus on meeting more people, making new friends, and setting up more dates. This will take time and courage (you’ll be facing awkwardness, frustration, or even heartbreak), but in the end, when you find your soulmate, it will have been worth it.

Ironically, some of the most common ways people attempt to meet serious potential partners are some of the worst ways. For example, it’s not a good idea to look for love in a bar: the loud music makes it difficult to hear each other, and the alcohol distorts your judgment — as well as the other person’s behavior. Somebody who seems smart and appealing now may be far less so once the beer buzz wears off. Besides, most people who hang out in bars aren’t looking for deep personal relationships.

Another popular method is having your friends set you up with someone. This may seem like a good idea, but frequently, it turns out that your well-meaning friends are basing their judgments on what they want, what they think you want, or what they feel you should want in a partner. No matter how well your friends know you, only you know for sure what kind of person’s right for you. This is not to say that you shouldn’t give friends’ setups a fair chance — but be prepared for disappointment on your and/or your friends’ part.

Some people still believe that “fate” or “destiny” will bring them and their soulmates together, and they use this belief as an excuse not to go out and meet new people. Others are so desperate for a relationship they’ll accept the first willing person who comes along. And if you’re oozing desperation, what sort of mate do you think you’ll attract? This brings up Rule One: do not start dating until you’ve recovered from divorce and are happy on your own. Only then will you have something to offer a new partner.

When you’re ready, recognize that it takes time to find your most compatible partner — and it also takes a willingness to actively explore, make mistakes, and not give up. Have some faith and patience in the process.

Here’s are some of the most common ways you can get back into the dating scene after divorce.

1. Advertise your desire for a partner
It wasn’t long ago that matchmaking services and personal ads were unfairly considered a sign of desperation. But times have changed. Dating services — both matchmaking and the do-it-yourself methods — are now more popular than they’ve ever been for people seeking relationships. Because many people are busy with careers and/or single parenthood, they just don’t have much time to go out into the social scene.

Internet and telephone personals allow you to browse profiles of potential mates while keeping your identity anonymous — all from the comfort and safety of your own home. Paul Gallucci, the CEO of Lavalife, advises people to be true to themselves in writing personal ads and profiles. “Describe who you really are. Write exactly what you’re looking for and what makes you unique. You don’t have to put up a facade here. Every one of us is special and interesting in some way. Bring out the interesting facts and traits — things that will make people want to know more about you.” If the service allows, definitely include a good picture. “Put up a fun picture in which you’re smiling and engaged in an activity that reflects who you are,” he adds.

If you join a dating service, whether by phone or online, it’s a good idea to take your time in browsing and meeting people. Again, the process takes patience: don’t expect to find your perfect match immediately. “Don’t rush,” Gallucci says. “People sometimes rush through it and get disappointed, and then think the process doesn’t work. If you haven’t taken enough time in the introductory process before meeting the person face-to-face, it can be a letdown.” But if you’re patient, as well as astute in your questions and answers, things are more likely to go your way.

Personal or companion ads in newspapers/magazines
Pros: It’s often free to list your small printed ad, with a unique box number.
Cons: Attraction is based solely on what’s written, which usually isn’t enough to get a true sense of the person.

Telephone Personals
Pros: Very convenient. And it’s a great advantage to hear the person’s voice: you can often tell quite a bit about someone’s education, intelligence, and social skills by their grammar and the inflection in his/her voice. Most are free for women.
Cons: Can get expensive for men — particularly for out-of-towners who have to pay long-distance charges as well.

Internet Dating
Pros: Safe and convenient. You can tailor your search using dozens of criteria — such as age, geography, education, etc. — and you can exchange pictures to test out the physical appeal.
Cons: There are so many fish in this sea that you may be tempted to pass on a great match in the hopes of finding a “perfect” match. Can be addictive; know when you’ve had enough.

Matchmaking Services
Pros: Perfect for people who don’t have the time or fortitude to wade through hundreds of profiles and dozens of meetings to find their match. Every member is serious about meeting someone; they didn’t join just for a casual fling or three.
Cons: The costs of these services can be substantial, and you may not meet as many people as with the other methods. However, this might not be a bad thing: in theory, those you do meet are likely to be the kind of person you’re looking for when dating after divorce. This should help keep your overall costs down, both in time and money expended.

There’s a standard cliche that the minute you stop looking for someone, the perfect person comes along. This is not precisely true: you’re unlikely to find your soulmate while sitting on your couch watching SNL reruns. Get out there and start enjoying your life: whether that means poetry reading, ballroom dancing, or bowling. You’ll broaden your circle of acquaintances and friends, and you’ll be more fun because you’re having more fun.

“The best advice I can give on meeting somebody for the first time is just to be yourself,” says Ruth Claramunt, who runs a successful Toronto-based matchmaking service called Hearts ( “Look at it as though you’re just meeting a new friend, and go out and have fun.” She adds that entering the dating scene again after divorce is very difficult, and the best way to begin is to open up your social circle. “I give divorcing clients support and guidance in doing that.”

Make dates with people you’re attracted to, but don’t expect to find your soulmate right away. Time and patience are required for that, but in the meantime, you can enjoy your new life after divorce by meeting new people and trying new activities. If you start looking for love in places you haven’t even considered before — from new social circles to current friends, from your local neighborhood to other cities or even countries — you increase your chances of finding that love.

Jeffrey Cottrill is the former Managing Editor of Divorce Magazine.