There were times you didn’t think it would ever happen, but you’ve finally reached the highly anticipated stage in your divorce: the one where you’re ready to actually put it behind you and start dating again. But now that the dust has settled on the end of your marriage, you’re looking around and realizing you have no f*cking clue what to do now.

The reality? Whether you’ve been off the market for the last three years or the last 30, things out here in the dating world have definitely changed! Hey, that’s not necessarily a bad thing — we have fun tools and resources to work with now, like dating apps. Plus, you’ve learned a lot since your last relationship first started. You know you’re a goddamn catch, so it’s easier to focus on the sexy side of dating and not spend so much time in your head (been there, done that).

So, let’s explore some of the changes to the dating world and get you on the fast track to getting your groove back.

You get an app, and you get an app — everybody gets an app!

The pandemic changed so many things about our daily lives, and the dating world was not left out. New dating apps that cater to more specific tastes have popped up, and since COVID meant no one was going in public to experience a “meet cute,” everyone flocked to dating apps to search for their quarantine buddy.

Do you like bagels and coffee? There’s an app for that. Are you interested in dating a farmer? Yep, there’s an app for that, too. And for the newly single woman who just wants to go out and have a good time? Yeah, you guessed it, there’s an app for that.

Ariela Basson/Scary Mommy; Getty Images, Hinge, Tinder, Coffee Meets Bagel, Bumble

It’s OK to play the field.

You created a profile, for which you undoubtedly said something witty in your bio and added some great pictures. Who wouldn’t want to date you?! But what do you do with the matches coming in? Plan your roster! In 2024, we aren’t necessarily doing dinner and a movie for first dates. Take a morning walk in the park with your dog and Dude #1. Plan a lunch date with Dude #2. Dating has become more of an audition process than it used to be.

Women are out here knowing their worth, and we have learned from that breakup or divorce we just went through. We’re not settling for anyone who doesn’t put in the same energy we do. So if Dudes 1 and 2 are both duds, move on down the roster. As Ariana says, “Thank you, next.”

A May-December romance? Sure, why not?

Something that used to be hinted at (but stigmatized) years ago is also coming to the forefront, and you should consider it before you say no. What is it? Why, being a cougar, my dear. There is a whole demographic of cubbies who want to date older women, and I’m not talking about 60-year-old women dating 22-year-olds. The standard definition is an older woman dating someone 10+ years younger.

If you’re in your 40s, you’ll likely soon discover that there are lots o’ younger guys dying for the chance to “dance” with you. Get it. (Also, if you decide younger men are your thing, there’s an app for that.)

If you thought cougar’ing was spicy, just wait.

It’s natural to want something different when coming out of a long-term relationship, perhaps even a high-school-sweetheart-vanilla-relationship. Maybe what you crave is a little less missionary and more Kama Sutra? Own it, babe — “alternative” sexual preferences are more out in the open than ever before. You’ll find dance clubs, resorts, and cruises that cater to the “lifestyle” of swingers and kinks.

Not sure how you’d get started down that path? Take the BDSM test on Google. Seriously. You don’t have to put in your name or anything else that could identify you — it’s just a list of questions to answer that will give you a result. Look up the words you get, if necessary, and see if the descriptions make sense to you. Then, yes, there’s an app for that!

Dating really is more fun these days.

Something else that has changed significantly since I first dated my (now) ex-husband is how many genuinely fun things there are to do on dates. While it varies from city to city, you can usually find at least one cool new venue that serves as the ideal dating icebreaker.

It might not turn into a hobby, but try axe throwing at least once — Dude #3 might be into it. How about pool or foosball? Show Dude #4 that you’re a badass, and see how he handles losing. Learn to line dance with Dude #5, but make eye contact with Dancing Man #1, who also wants to spin you around the floor. Escape rooms, rage rooms, selfie studios, cat cafes… you’ve got options.

Ariela Basson/Scary Mommy; Getty Images, Shutterstock

We’re standing in our power.

Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to start the conversation and plan the date. Making the first move is very much a thing we do now, if and when we want to.

But above all, we’re supporting each other — in more clever, high-tech ways than ever before. Women are using online tools to care for each other, like pages and groups dedicated to finding out if anyone else is dating the guy you’re dating. We’re using apps to connect each other with female-safety-centric ride-sharing services. Basically, we’re watching each other’s backs, and it’s a beautiful thing.

So, buy yourself one of those scrunchies that doubles as a drink cover, and get out here. We’re having a blast!

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