5 tips for Dating Through Divorce, by Samantha Woodham of The Divorce Surgery

Dating and divorce aren’t words you often see in the same sentence. But the reality is that they often come together. It is entirely possible to do divorce and dating well, and at the same time, so we thought we’d set out a few tips and pitfalls we have picked up in our many divorce cases to help you do just that.

Divorce is a life change, and as you go through the process you are navigating towards a new chapter of your life – a new you. You’ll want to explore all sorts of questions – where you want to live, work, what do you want to prioritise, how do you want to feel about yourself. And dating may well be part of that journey of self-discovery.

  1. Don’t let your Old Relationship Define your New One

The best start is a good ending. If you can manage divorce well, you are far more likely to start a new relationship well. Why? Because if you can rationalise the relationship you had, what your drew from it in terms of positives and what you can happily leave behind, you will have worked out what you want for the future. You can then make engaged and conscious choices about what you are looking for in life, whether you want to date, yet or at all, who you want to date and why.

So how to end a divorce well? Mindset is crucial. If you go into a divorce thinking it will be an awful battle, it will be. As a society we have an ingrained preconception that divorce is stressful, ruinously expensive and takes far too long. But it really does not have to be that way. You may not have chosen to get divorced, but the way you divorce is your choice. Don’t allow divorce to become something that is happening to you – take charge of it. If you get into a mindset of engaging and taking charge, you will immediately start to feel better and more empowered.

The most important message to understand is that divorce is a shared problem. The only way to divorce well, and by that I mean extricate yourself with an outcome which is legally fair to you, with dignity, for affordable cost and in a sensible timescale, is if you both divorce well. The reason for that is simple: either you both agree on an arrangement with regards the division of your finances and/or the care of your children or a Judge will impose a decision on you (after a long, expensive and often painful Court process). So the sooner you start engaging in what is fair for both of you, and your children, rather than what you each want, the better, because you will then be making choices in the way a Judge would.

But many couples do not know what ‘fair’ looks like in their situation. Legal advice is important, because these are huge decisions with lifelong ramifications, and because a Judge will only approve an agreement which is legally fair. Many couples, however, still do not realise that they do not have to instruct separate solicitors to obtain legal advice on divorce. One Couple One Lawyer services, as offered at The Divorce Surgery, enable separating couples to get joint impartial advice together from one lawyer for a fixed cost. You can read more about our One Couple One Lawyer services here https://www.thedivorcesurgery.co.uk/what-is-one-couple-one-lawyer/

  1. Do be Respectful towards your Ex

This is a person you chose to marry. Maybe you also chose to have children together. Unless you are extremely unlucky, there should be a significant amount of happy memories you created together. Don’t let the ending contaminate everything that went before.

Treating divorce as a shared problem is a good place to start, because it will focus both of your minds on the benefits of working together. It’s an emotional roller-coaster, and of course can be fraught at times. When you find yourselves getting at each other take some space (even moving to another room if you’re in the same home). Remember you are navigating a process- it can be stressful at times but 42% of all married couples go through it. A good tip is to speak to your ex in the same way you would a work colleague – be civil and reasonable.

And when it comes to dating- don’t hold back in communicating with your ex. The instinct is to hide it for fear of upsetting your ex. But actually, it’s much worse finding out about something after the fact than knowing in advance. If you want to start dating again, try to include this in a conversation as early as you can. And if you have children, please be extremely sensitive. There is no need for your children to know you are dating, and if you’ve met someone special and over time you decide you would like to introduce them to your children, speak to your ex about it first. Be prepared to be patient – It may take your ex a little longer than you to come to terms with this transition, but it will be so much better for your children if you can present a new partner with a neutral narrative both parents can agree on.  At The Divorce Surgery we often advise separated couples together on many issues surrounding post separation co-parenting, and this is one which often comes up. Please do reach out for joint advice if you think it could help you both- these can be choppy waters to navigate, but if you put in the effort to do it well it will be so worth it in the long run.

  1. Don’t be a Divorce Bore!

Your date does not want to hear about your ex. They don’t want to live your divorce drama (although if you’ve followed the first two tips hopefully the drama is to a minimum).

The best way not to be a Divorce Bore is to divorce well. If you’re going through a divorce process which is on the whole constructive and focussed, you just won’t feel the need to talk to your date about it. It’s also important to be able to engage properly with the person in front of you, and without hang-ups from your old relationship invading your conversation. If you’re unable to go on a date without talking about your divorce, reflect on whether it’s the right time for you to be dating yet or not.

  1. Do Ditch the Guilt

If you take nothing else from this article, please take this: you have nothing to feel guilty about. 42% of marriages end in divorce. You are not a failure. You are just going through a life change. As a society we continue to stigmatise divorce, but we need to get over it. It is so damaging for your mental health to be in a negative mindset. So re-frame it. Think of the various challenges your family and friends are also going through. This is a challenge, yes, but one that you can and will overcome.

And don’t feel guilty about dating! Provided that you are separated, and you have treated your ex respectfully then you are allowed to start exploring what your new life apart will be like. And that includes dating (if you want it to). Equally, if you find out your ex is dating, please don’t feel despondent. What’s really tough about the emotional fallout of divorce is that you will both go through the same stages but at different times. It’s extremely common for one spouse to start dating long before the other can even contemplate it. But that’s ok. It’s not a race. Far better to spend the time building yourself up, learning who you want to be with your newfound lease of life, than rushing into a relationship for the sake of it.

  1. Do be Open to New Adventures

Don’t confuse dating with commitment. You are coming out of a committed relationship- there is no need (unless you want to and you are ready) to launch straight into another one. Of course communicate openly with the people you are dating so they know where you are coming from, but use this time to have fun! And if you don’t want to date and can’t bear the idea of it- that’s fine too. Reclaim this time for yourself. Do not allow well-meaning family and friends to frog-march you into some dreadful blind date if you don’t fancy it. That’s three hours of your life you could have been having a glass of wine and watching Netflix!

Just be positive- focus on you and what you want and need, and whatever adventures are waiting for you will surely come.

Mirabeau en Provence: Live from the vines!

Thursday 11th June.
5 pm – 6 pm
Online, please register – Register Here  Password – Vines

Join us for some Southern French fun straight to your homes and gardens with a very special virtual rosé experience.

Stephen and Jeany Cronk, founders of Mirabeau en Provence will join us live from Domaine Mirabeau tucked away in the heart of Provence.

They’ll share their inspiring story and the process of making the wonderful wines that we all love.  Social distancing means a trip to a favourite vineyard, wine bar or vintners is still off the agenda.  So, friends, members and rosé lovers you are invited to an exclusive online wine experience on zoom.

Location: Zoom Webinar
Date: Thursday 11th June. 5 pm – 6 pm
Ticket Price: Free

PS To savour the taste with us pick up a bottle of their “Pure’ wine while it’s promotion:-

Online, please register – Register Here Password – Vines

Dating Post-Apocalyptic Style in a House Share – What Could Possibly Go Wrong!

When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere” The Day of the Triffids (1951), John Wyndham’s 1951 post-apocalyptic novel.

Don’t you know the feeling…


I hope this finds readers safe and well.  I am, understandably, now starting to go feral in furlough.  The domestic goddess phase has, well, phased. Closet de-cluttered, under the kitchen sink clean, inside the dishwasher and washing machine surgically shiny.  Yes, yes, done. Domestic goddess bored.


So bored that I have been getting back on that thing called the telephone and, instead of fidgeting and looking at what my friends are wearing on Zoom calls, actually having a good old listen!


My current fascination is the lives of my single friends, and by chatting with them I’ve realised how many members of our dating network live with flat mates in a house share, rented or owned accommodation, and either full time or during the week.  Long gone are the days when the sharing economy was just for millennials, now it is for all ages.


My friend Harry (55) owns his house and wants to retrain (as a business coach). Since his children live with their mother, he decided to rent out his spare room during the week to pay for his studies. He joined the 40+ house share site Cohabitas and started looking for a suitable housemate. He found divorcee Katie (52) who works in London during the week… So, Katie and Harry began living together in a house share and now it seems that familiarity, far from breeding contempt, has started to fan the flames of attraction – at least for Harry!


My friend Lizzy (31) works for a social impact charity and lives in a house share called Lyvly, which facilitates harmonious living and work/life balance for 22 to 36-year-old young professionals. They match on age and encourage new friendships, by highlighting areas of common interest and promoting ways to meet the rest of the community. New members meet their future housemates via video call and visit the flat via 3D tour. Just before lock down, Lizzy met a man that she really connected with on Lyvly’s community app, doing a thing called ‘speed friendsting’ (a weekly opportunity to meet 2 other members you don’t know yet via video chat). She’s been telling me how they have been planning their first face to face date.


Is fancying your flatmate a symptom of Lockdown fever?


Before Lockdown Katie and Harry were like ships that passed in the night, or rather at breakfast, since Katie’s job meant she often worked late. But when Lockdown happened Katie was furloughed, so she decided to stay in London and, in the spirit of community, spend Lockdown with Harry rather than embrace solitude in the country. Suddenly, like shipwreck survivors marooned on a desert island, they found themselves thrown together – girl, boy, flesh and blood. Him Tarzan, her Jane. Maybe not quite, but things were definitely different. Previously they wouldn’t have gone to the movies, dinner, or concerts together. Now, eating together felt sort of date-like, as did exploring each other’s taste in music and TV. Intimate, but also awkward.


Feeling somewhat confused, Harry asked me to suggest some steps he might take to deal with the situation – for both their sakes.


Three steps.


Think about the reasons why you might want a relationship with your roommate. What is it about them that you find attractive right now? Do you have legitimate reasons for wanting to take the next step? If it just boils down to scarcity of choice, you need to know that they’re looking at things the same way, both physically and emotionally. Face it, if you are simply longing for intimate human contact, then it’s probably not a good idea.


Determine their feelings. Look for signs that your roommate has feelings for you. What is your roommate’s body language telling you? An interested person will make a lot of eye contact, touch you and lean into your personal space. They want to give you their full attention.


Be honest with yourself. When we have feelings for someone, we tend to see what we want to see. If it is unclear to you whether or not your roommate has feelings for you, chances are they don’t. 


Fight the urge to confess all. It may come to this eventually, but slow down. Give yourself time to see where your feelings are coming from. You may emerge from this lockdown in a wonderful new deep, supportive relationship. It is probably safest to focus on friendship and support, not muddying the water with full-on relationship pressure…. At least, not just yet.


Love in Lockdown…. 


While it’s wonderful to start a virtual relationship in lockdown, here are a few tips I gave Lizzy:

Try not to project too far into the future: It’s not helpful because your mind is not a crystal ball. Take each day as it comes. Hour by hour even.

Talking to others can help put things into perspective. And if you can’t talk, write your feelings and thoughts down on paper to help you question how rational you’re being.

Don’t watch the news 24/7: You can get overwhelmed. Just tune in to the news at 6pm and maybe one of the national bulletins. That is enough. Reality isn’t just what’s going on in the outside world.


Post Lockdown flat sharing


Lyvly predict the major trends could be:

A greater emphasis on the importance on who you live with, as you may spend most of your days with them.

An increased demand for better living conditions, with wider rooms and the space to work from home.

The need to belong to a group or community that can help during hard times.


Everybody is learning a lot about themselves in lockdown. We value our freedoms a little bit more and this crisis has given perspective to many things we took for granted or considered essential. Most importantly, lockdown can teach us to value the real things that matter most, like friends and family and your house around you.

I get a kick out of quarantine….

I’m used to being asked to be someone’s Valentine, but when a meme asked me “Will you be my quarantine” last week I was touched. Until now the closest I’d ever come to quarantine was a weekend at Soho Farmhouse.


Now, along with most of the world, I’m stuck in lockdown and writing from my kitchen in London. The news is very saddening, and I wish everyone who is suffering a speedy recovery, but Miss BBB is here to share the Lockdown Lite, not the Lockdown Heavy, which takes some pizazz for a long-term social butterfly and prolific networker, who has now joined the lonely ranks of home worker. I figure butterflies are all about transformation, though, so I am trying to treat this as a ‘chrysalis’ phase; preparing to open my wings and flutter again when this era is over.


My birthday at the end of March was the first big test. I like to celebrate in style in a great restaurant surrounded by my lovely friends and this year it even fell on a Saturday, which should mean an all-day, all-night birthday with a guaranteed lie-in and full recovery day. What to do? Desperate to get out, a trapped butterfly is bound to damage its wings.


Fortunately, the restaurant sector is delivering a master class in adaptability which is deeply impressing this entrepreneur. First of all, it was Zuma to the rescue.  Miso cod, sesame spinach and a bottle of sake (why not?) delivered right to my door. Well, within a safe two metres.  That was just for starters. The next delivery came in the form of the Cheese Truck – I had ordered a Lockdown Lottery bag of 1 kg of the best British Cheese going. Why risk a lottery? Well, I’m a girl who thrives on spontaneity and there’s not much of that in lockdown, so surprise me! They did and it was great.


So in some ways it was like any other birthday — I drank too much wine and ended up stumbling into bed. “Where have you been?” my live-in boyfriend asked, understandably confused since we’d been in lockdown together all week.

“At a party,” I merrily slurred. “What? A party? Where?” “On the sofa, it was a sofa party”. I’d had a merry houseparty with my besties. One in Australia, one in Monaco, one in Wimbledon and one in Norfolk.  I have to say, we’ve embraced this new technology like over-enthusiastic teenagers, and we’ve embraced wine deliveries like an old friend coming for dinner.


We can do this people! Even if the world has turned to crap (no wonder the shops immediately ran out of loo roll!). I’m here to help, so to kick things off here are some tips for tackling the shock of the new normal. #domesticgoddess

  1. Carrie Bradshaw wrote her Sex in the city column on a Mac at home. Note: whether its emails, conference calls, or video Zooms; communication is always better when you’re wearing marabou.
  2. Declutter – Mari Condo your house and organize your closet. Find clothes to wear in combinations you never thought of before.  Trial them at home so all your new ideas can be sashayed back into the office, assuming there will still be such a thing.
  3. Keep life civilised: Open your curtains, get dressed, wear perfume, try new playlists on Spotify. Thirty-six hours in the same pyjamas promises a fate worse than the virus.
  4. Don’t eat from the fridge. Plan your meals, embrace your inner MasterChef and eat like a queen.
  5. Dance – be it Tik Tok, live instructors or YouTube tutorial learn something new. It’s time to tango!
  6. Host a virtual quiz or wine tasting.
  7. Plan a Friend trip – having missed them, plan to visit them.
  8. Help others, it’s good for the soul.
  9. Drink wine.
  10. Drink more wine.


Having a ritual to end your day is as important as one to start it. I suggest wine, cooking, Netflix, camomile tea and bed. At weekends shake it up with delivery food, new wines and perhaps a new cocktail, followed by Netflix, camomile tea and bed!


As we settle into the new world of social distancing we need to focus on priorities. Instead of moaning about the state of our nails and home-hair we’d do better to remember the keyworkers on the frontline and be thankful.  We will get through this thanks to their sacrifices and dedication. After COVID we can hope that society will continue to pull together and look out for the world as a whole.


The only thing we need is love.  Look after your loved ones and we will get through this.