I am constantly giving divorce advice that answers e-mails I receive from readers. But for this post, I thought I’d offer some advice based on what happened to me last Wednesday night.
I’ll start from the beginning. I was headed to a suburban restaurant to meet a close friend for a quiet dinner. Since I hadn’t seen her in awhile, I was looking forward to catching up. I invited another friend of ours (a divorced guy) to join us. It would be a mellow and short evening, and I was looking forward to it.
When I entered the restaurant, I noticed that my friend’s sister was there (who I love.) I was happy, and I knew the evening would still be the same—lots of girl talk and laughing. Enter our guy friend with some girl, who didn’t seem particularly friendly. It was awkward. Uncomfortable. I’m thinking, ‘I don’t get to go out that often and I really don’t want to deal with some girl who is going to be rude to me.’
Shortly after, an old friend of mine (who is also friends with our guy friend) walks in. Now I am ecstatic, because I love this girl and we lost touch awhile ago, something I really regret. She is with a friend who was instantly likable.
Then there’s this guy sitting at a table next to our big table eating dinner alone. I start talking to him. He is from London, lives in Boston but he’s here for work. He’s so sweet. Divorced. I tell him to join our table after his dinner. He seems unsure.
Then a couple other guys walk in. One is friends with the original girl I was meeting there, and one is a friend of someone else there.
I then spot a woman I know a few tables over having dinner with her girlfriend. They join us.
This is key. What I began observing after several minutes was a connection of some sort. Everyone walked in not really knowing anyone, yet they seemed to be warming up. People were in deeper conversations. They were smiling, laughing at times, and just seemed at ease with each other.
If you compare the beginning of the night, when everyone seemed a bit guarded to the end of the night, when everyone at the table was joking and laughing about the colonoscopy procedure, an outside observer would have thought we’d all been friends for years.
Why the instant connection? It hit me. We all had divorce in common. With the exception of one girl, every single person at the table (at least a dozen people) had gone through a divorce, so there was an instant commonality and a comfort that didn’t take long to surface.
Here are the lessons I learned during the night:
- Don’t be so quick to judge. The girl I originally thought was rude was anything but! After drinking a little bit, relaxing and getting to know each other, I have to say this girl is a sweetheart. She probably felt strange and maybe insecure. I found out the next day she had just ended a very long term relationship. I am kind of ashamed of myself for not being more open minded right off the bat. I feel like I made a new friend, which is gift I always enjoy receiving.
- Let strangers in. The English guy ended up being the life of the party. He was hilarious. When I left, he was still in there, socializing away! We did a nice thing inviting him into our circle. Living in a foreign country and traveling every week probably leaves little time for meeting people. Perhaps we gave him a much needed friend night out.
- Embrace the unforeseen. What I thought was going to be a quiet dinner turned into a party. Things usually don’t turn out the way you intend and that can be a good thing sometimes!
The biggest thing I can share with newly separated men and woman is this. Make friends with other divorced people. Both male and female. Don’t worry so much about meeting someone romantically. Just having a group of friends to call and get together with anytime you want is really a gift. Focus on new friendships that are platonic. The dates and relationships will follow, as you will meet others through this group. But more importantly, you will be part of something—a group that will include you in all these really fun nights out. And anytime you feel like going out, you have someone to call.
People always tell me how difficult it is to meet someone. My advice: THIS is how you meet someone. AND, it’s how you develop new friendships, have fun and move on from your divorce.