Franz Davis could tell he had been out of the dating pool for years when he ventured back in after getting divorced.
“I honestly felt like I was on a different planet,” he said. “I hadn’t been on the dating scene since college.”
Davis, a divorce attorney in Minneapolis, had been married for eight years. He was a decade removed from the singles scene.
“People knew how to quickly meet then just hook up,” he said. Davis tried to work the bar and restaurant scene and found himself getting frustrated with the superficiality of it.
He ended up stepping away to work on himself. Instead of going out, he went to counseling and read books to figure out why his marriage had failed and how to avoid falling back into the same relationship patterns.
“Believe it or not, I really worked on it,” he said. He finally got to a point where he was happy being single, excited to go on solo bike rides and meet with friends at a restaurant. Of course, this was exactly when he met his future wife -- ironically enough, a matchmaker.
April Davis, president of LUMA Luxury Matchmaking, says the majority of her clients are divorced. They come to her with a mixed bag of experiences. Some refuse to try online dating, while others have been on a hundred app-instigated dates. Some have been hurt so badly that they cannot let a new person get too close emotionally. Others are so afraid of being alone, they are willing to settle for the next person who comes along.
Her advice starts from the same place: Figure out who you are as a single person. Find out which character traits and values are most important to you in a partner, and work on developing those same qualities in yourself.
“Like attracts like,” she said. Typically, a person’s confidence has taken a hit after a divorce, and he or she is unsure of how to navigate the modern dating scene, she said.
April says her general rule of thumb for the newly divorced is to take a month being single for every year of marriage before jumping into another relationship. Use that time as a chance to grow and learn, she said.
That’s the path Rachael Carter, 44, has embraced. Carter, an outgoing photographer in Lake St. Louis, also models and acts occasionally. What she doesn’t do much is date. She’s been divorced nearly two years after 12 years of marriage. She’s been on two dates.
“My focus is on making sure I’m raising a healthy, well-adjusted child,” she said. She doesn’t want the aftermath of the divorce to disrupt her teenage daughter’s life. Plus, she’s much more aware now of what she wants in a partner. She has no desire to use a dating app or site.
“After going through what I’ve been through, I think I’m looking for a deeper connection,” Carter said. Since her divorce, she also became very introspective. “I had to think about things I was passionate about that would bring joy back into my life.”
And now she’s OK being alone and focusing on building her career.
“I’m OK with me, and I’m OK being alone,” she said. “When you look for love, sometimes you look for the wrong things.”
Carly Spindel, who works as a matchmaker along with her mother at their company, Janis Spindel Serious Matchmaking in New York City, says custody situations can make dating even more difficult post-divorce.
“It gets more and more complicated,” she said, when each person has a strict custody schedule.
For Franz Davis, he was more cautious the second time around. But when he noticed his feelings progressing for April, he was direct.
“Are we developing something?” he asked her.
“No, I just want to be friends,” she said.
“I have enough friends,” he responded.
They ended up dating for four years and tied the knot in 2013.