After his marriage of 10 years ended, Phil Damon found himself in an awkward position: single and begrudgingly tossed back into the dating scene.
Though at one point he considered giving up on love, the Idaho-based writer kept dating and eventually met Nancy, the woman who would become his second wife.
“We had both given up on love, but were pleasantly surprised when we met and learned that there are such things as ‘soulmates,'” he told HuffPost.
Below, the now 40-year-old shares how he found love again and his best advice for others dating after divorce.
At the age of 19, I moved in with the woman who would become my wife. Eleven years later, I suddenly found myself single and lost in an ocean of loneliness. Coming to acceptance that my marriage was over took some time. Once I was able to move forward, I faced a terrifying dating field.
Thirty was an awkward age to date. Since I had started the relationship with my ex-wife at 19, I never learned how to date. In addition, women in their early 20s were too young while women in their late 30s and older were generally unapproachable. As a divorced man, I carried a stigma; many woman automatically assumed that I was undateable material. In their line of thinking, I must have caused my divorce. On one date, a woman spent the majority of our time discussing how she had a low opinion of men.
After years of dating women who confessed a distrust for men — or women who were still going through the pain of their own recent relationship lost — I came to the decision that I would just be “me.” Knowing my character, I decided that I would no longer attempt to prove myself. If someone was not willing to accept me for who I was, then I would simply move on.
At first, this strategy — if you can call it that -– left me dateless. However, I gradually began to meet women who were open to the idea of a possible relationship. Since I was no longer concerned about proving that I really was a good guy, I was able to focus on just having fun. Some dates were simply movie dates, while others included activities like disk golf, hiking, fishing or taking rides on my motorcycle. It was a blast.
At the age of 39, I met the woman who would become my best friend and wife. In October 2015, we were married and neither of us have looked back since.
For those of you in your 30s who are divorced, both men and women, please allow me to give you some advice: Not every dateable person out there is looking to use you. At the same time, don’t rush into the arms of the first person who shows interest. Don’t change who you are just to make someone else happy. Respect yourself and others will take notice. You are important, and if one lesson should be learned from your divorce, it’s that you deserve to be happy. Don’t settle!
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