OK, here's the story of the dating deal. Divorced after 15 years. 3 kids. (2 of hers one of ours) all three stayed with dad after the split. Mom went right on to dating and was married three days after the court approved the divorce decree... Now single, living in Ohio. Can cook, do dishes, enjoys long walks and has a rather singular if lonely life sometimes.
Soooo. When is it OK to date? How soon is too soon? There is no easy answer and to be truthful, the answer is different for everyone (as the posts have shown). Was the breakup amicable and is dating an option. Ugly divorces sometimes make dating difficult. Raising 3 kids can also through a real wrench into the works as well. Not ok to bring home "Friends" and not exactly ok to leave kids home while visiting the "Friends house" or a hotel. Doesn't help when the kids don't want to stay with mom even for a weekend. Regardless, your compass is the one to go by.
Me, I found dating to be difficult. Being past the meet-market barscene can lead to the Sahara desert. Also, where are you meeting people? Coworkers and work in general are not good places to find new experiences. I hear tell that the friends helping friends referal network does a pretty good job. Online is not always successful. I am on match and its been rather dismal. Look for the petprotector if you want to get an idea of what I am talking about.
First and foremost, date when you want to. You make your own rules and set your own goals. Its ok to be picky. Do the neutral date deal (you meet somewhere) or find a set of wingmen (or in your case wingwomen) to go with you and make it a group interview (oops, I mean date). Don't think that whoever you date is entitled to a long term relationship after 15 minutes of complementing your eyes.
From the guys side, I am much more interested in someone who can carry a conversation over a cup of coffee! I look for someone with a sense of humor. Despite the myth, there are a few of us left who don't think that jumping in the sack on the first date (or the 2nd or 3rd or 4th) is the best way to see if you are compatible.
Doesn't want to be married but can still live with you? Sorry, thats sounds like a mid-life crisis or an affair that isn't going anywhere and someone wants to have a live-in maid and bed partner when the pickings are slim at the bar. Wants the "benefits" with none of the responsibility??? Adios amigo!!!
And for the last of us decent guys out there, I have a question for the ladies and no offense intended.
WHY THE HECK DO YOU STAY WITH THE LOSERS????? Seriously. I hear more bad vibe stories about drinking, spousal abuse, cheating, lying, etc. etc. etc. from many of my female acquaintances than I can count. And when I ask why they stay with the "moron of the moment", I get this blank stare or the cliche "He loves me, he's trying to change..." reply. Change into what? A serial killer?
Another friend couldn't understand why her "boyfriend" was cheating on her. After all, he had left his wife for her and said he loved her. Helloooo??? Once a cheater always a cheater! Arggh! Drives me nutz.
Another tidbit, don't be afraid to be selfish and don't be afraid to ask questions. Like the one above. "Have you ever cheated on a girlfriend?" If the guy doesn't hold the door, offer you his coat and act generally like a chivalrous type - ditch him. Its not sexist its courtesy. Ladies should expect it, men should display it.
Qualifications for the decent guy:
Knows the words please & thankyou and can use them BOTH in a sentence.
Can pump gas, check oil, and change a tire. (Or has AAA and is not afraid to use it!)
Can cook (Not just mac & cheese nor hotdogs on the grill although I like both)
Knows that laundry is something to seperate by type & color - not just clean or not so clean.
Understands that "No" can be translated into "move your hand any farther up my leg without my express permission and you are going to lose the fingers to the third knuckle buddy"
Should know what the four stages of intimacy are: Permission, foreplay, fun activity, cuddling. Can go straight to cuddling without need of intervening steps.
Buys things just because: Its thursday, you were asleep when he left, he knows you like chocolate, you mentioned something you liked in a conversation three weeks ago
Can listen to every word you say and remember them more than 5 minutes from now.
Takes the time to memorize favorite color, dress size, shoe size, favorite dish, names of cats, favorite flowers, anniversary of first date/kiss/engagement/marriage etc.
Agrees never to go to bed angry.
And I sit down on the soapbox. All this talking makes a guy tired!