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Dating Triumphs and Tragedies
by Nicole Roberge

Post-Traumatic Dating:
How to Date After You’ve Dealt with a Traumatic or Stressful Issue

We all know that dating is a daunting task in itself. It’s all many questions of what should I wear, how do I do my hair, where will we go, what will we talk about…will he even like me?!?!?! It’s a big deal. But what if you’re carrying more baggage than just the first date jitters?

Everyone is nervous about a first date, but it can be even more overwhelming for those trying to get back on the dating scene after a life experience. For some, that can be a divorce. Trying to meet people again after being married is a whole new experience, because you’ve already been through the dating process, the engagement, the marriage, and here you are again. You might be afraid you can’t do it, but it’s possible. And if you want to find that guy out there that is right for you, then it’s worth looking.

A woman I know who is divorced found peace of mind dating a man who also was divorced. They had that common ground and could empathize with what each other had been through. But that does not mean you have to date a divorced man just because you are. Think of it as a learning experience. You have learned a lot about yourself and what you want in a partner through your marriage, and another man might have those things to offer and can learn from your experiences. Either way, just because it didn’t work out the first time, doesn’t mean you should hold back. It’s like, if they gave you a sample of Rocky Road in the Ice Cream Shop and it wasn’t what you wanted, would you put off ice cream altogether? No way! Bring on the mint chocolate chip! Get what I’m saying? It’s not just that I like ice cream, it’s that you shouldn’t just give up, you should be excited about a new flavor that you might want to stick around for a while. You just have to find the one that appeals to you most.

But there are other kinds of “baggage.” People have lives, believe it or not. They have experiences, and often times, they are not good ones. They can be traumatic, painful, and many people are struggling to deal with these issues. It’s amazing how many brave people are out there who, if there were a way, I would just love to wish their troubles away. But it’s not that easy, it’s part of life, and as these people deal with these things, such as personal issues, family struggles, job problems, etc., it shouldn’t hold them back from dating. But how, and when, do you tell your date what you’re going through? You want to confide in them, but you don’t want to scare them off. You’d love to have someone that you could lean on and trust, but you don’t want him to feel burdened. So, you just don’t bother…

What? Stop with that attitude! Don’t bother? Cut it out. You’re not burdening anyone! You have the right to date no matter what your mental state! Sure, it’s not easy when something is troubling you, and you’d rather just hide under the covers, thinking no one wants to be around you anyway. But wouldn’t getting out and meeting someone nice bring a smile to your face? In the midst of your despair, you’ve forgotten to have fun, and to realize that finding a partner might bring that exhilarating piece back into your life. And when he’s in your life, you can share with him your history. Maybe it’s not a first date topic, because you don’t know where things are going. Go with your gut, it won’t lead you wrong. But if he seems loyal, and trusting, and like he cares about your well-being, then don’t be afraid to open up. It well help you by having someone to share things with, and it will help him get to know you more. And maybe, he’ll feel more confident sharing with you, and you may learn some things about him you hadn’t expected to. Like why his feet smell so bad. Just kidding.

People make dating out to be a lot scarier than it should be, when really, it’s just the meeting of two people with, hopefully, some common interests, and a little bit of attraction. Think about it—you meet people every day. When you have some baggage or something you feel that’s holding you back from dating, you may be less willing to jump into the dating pool, but don’t be. You might need to wear your swimmies for a while, but as you become more comfortable with him, they can come off. You may have to do the doggy paddle, but at least your head is above water, and if you find the right guy, I think he’d be able to help you to the side when you needed a rest.

Dating Triumphs and Tragedies is published every Sunday by Online Dating Magazine columnist Nicole Roberge. She can be reached at

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