Dating after divorce can feel awkward, especially if you haven’t practiced your flirtation and conversational skills with potential romantic partners in a while. Here are the essentials to master the art of flirting.

By Diana Shepherd

Now that you’re emotionally ready to meet your soulmate, you have to find him/her. Here’s a hint: he/she probably isn’t sitting on your sofa waiting to watch Grey’s Anatomy with you. So you’re going to have to leave your comfort zone and put yourself out there if you want to get back into the world of dating.

This doesn’t mean as a single mom or a divorced dad that you have to start hanging out at singles bars or attending political rallies (unless you like these sorts of activities). Slowly begin to do things you like that will also get you out of the house and meeting new people. Start taking art, dance, cooking, stand-up comedy, or car-repair lessons; take up tennis, golf, rollerblading, or skiing; go to parties — even if you don’t feel like it; volunteer for an animal rescue organization, traveler’s aid, or your local hospital. You’ll be meeting other people who share your interests, which gives you an easy opener when striking up a conversation. And when that special someone shows up in your life, try to flirt instead of running screaming for the hills.

How to flirt

Whole books have been written on this topic. My best advice is to lead with your strong points, even during an initial exchange. For instance, if you aren’t funny (you know who you are!), don’t try to tell jokes. Still, try to keep things light at first: small talk actually puts people at their ease and can open the door to deeper conversations.

Body language is an important part of flirting. This includes smiling (but don’t try to mimic the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland) and standing just a little bit closer than you normally would with a stranger. Warning: there’s a fine line between showing interest and pushing someone into a flight-or-fight response: don’t stand nose-to-nose, and don’t back him into a wall or corner. This is just plain creepy, and will guarantee that he’ll never want to set eyes on you again.

Try mirroring the person’s body language: if she leans forward, you lean forward; if he crosses his left leg, you cross your right leg. Again, don’t overdo this: your aim is not to mimic the person, but to put him/her at ease.

Here are a few more dating tips to set you on the path to successful flirtdom:

  • Always try to look your best before engaging in flirting. If your hair is a disaster, you haven’t brushed your teeth, or your mascara has run half-way down your face, you’re not going to exude the cool self-confidence a successful flirt requires.
  • Offer a genuine compliment. This could be physical — “You have such beautiful eyes” — or not — “You laugh easily. That’s a trait I really admire.”
  • If you’re good at it, tell jokes (make sure they’re neither dirty nor disparaging, though).
  • Never brag — not even if you’ve just won the Nobel Prize or the Oscar for Best Picture. Nothing demonstrates insecurity better than bragging — and it’s extremely irritating to be on the receiving end of a bragger in full spate.
  • Be fearless. The worst that can happen if you approach that gorgeous creature is that he/she will reject you. Contrary to what you may feel at the time, this will not kill you. The best is that you may succeed in captivating the most interesting person in the room. Isn’t that worth the risk of a bit of bruised ego?
  • Be interesting. To charm an interesting person, you need to be interesting. So disconnect the TV and get out there. Push your physical and emotional boundaries: whether that means trying skydiving or yoga. Also, reading some great books will help to wake up those sleepy brain cells.
  • Ask questions about his interests. He’s just told you he loves camping/surfing/motorcycles/sci-fi conventions; ask him about when he first got interested in the activity, and what he likes best about it. Listen more than you talk.
  • Ask for help. Ask a friend who’s a great flirt to give you tips for dating after divorce and coaching on everything from body language to ice-breakers to how to tell a joke.

Diana Shepherd, a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® and Editorial Director of Divorce Magazine, has been writing about divorce-related issues since 1995.


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