Dating after divorce in your 20s: Advice from America’s Next Top Model Cycle 20 Contestant Mike Scocozza

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Dating after divorce in your 20s is quite the adventure. Some women married their first loves and have no idea what it’s like to play the game. Others have to adjust to the evolution of the dating protocol. For example, text messaging really wasn’t a thing when I married my ex-husband, but by the time I divorced, it was the new form of communication. It drove me crazy that guys would text me once and then not reply to me for three days. Like, what is up with that?! I soon learned to weed out those players and focus on the guy who actually responded and gasp- wanted to hear my voice.

mikes

Photo: Andrew Tomasino

Whether you’ve just entered the single life or have been stomping through the trenches, you’re most likely wondering just what the hell a twenty-something guy really thinks about dating. So I got one to provide the inside scoop. He’s not just your average Joe, though. He’s Mike Scocozza, the America’s Next Top Model Cycle 20 contestant who Tyra Banks handpicked for casting while he was serving up Los Angeles-adored Coolhaus gourmet, customizable ice cream sandwiches.

Here’s what 27-year-old Scocozza has to say to women celebrating divorce in their 20s by getting back out there!

Mike

Mike Scocozza: Insightful and delightful.

I’m certainly no expert when it comes to dating. I’ve only had two serious relationships in my life. But I have picked up a few things in my time out there in the world. The big thing to remember when it comes to dating is that it’s OK to NOT like someone. It’s good to be upbeat going into a new meeting, but you’re not going to click with everyone you meet. That’s just the way it works. So don’t try forcing something that’s not there, just because you want it. Be honest with yourself and be honest with the person you’re with. Here are a few tips from the male perspective:

(This applies only if you’re actually looking to meet someone special, not to just hook up.)

1. Be honest. If things do progress, the truth eventually comes out. So just be honest from the beginning.

2. Be yourself. There’s no point in changing who you are just to please someone. If they don’t like you, then screw them. Someone else will.

3. Don’t be flaky. If you say you’re going to call back or be somewhere at a certain time, just do it. (I know this applies to men as well, but I’m just reminding you).

4. Don’t be afraid to take the lead. If the conversation is starting to die down then take it into your own hands. Most guys will follow, I promise.

5. Guy don’t really care about shoes, accessories and makeup. We know it’s important to you, but so long as you don’t look like a complete mess, you’re fine. We care more about personality, character, and things like that.

6. Don’t expect the guy to pay the bill. Any gentleman will always take care of the bill, but don’t sit there and act like it’s his job. Be appreciative.

7. Fuck protocol. The “waiting a few days to talk” to someone is stupid. If you like a guy, don’t wait for his ass to call you. Let him know. And if I a guy feels the same way, he’ll let you know as well.

Want more of Mike? 

Meet Mike: www.mikescocozza.com

Chat: Twitter.com/mikescocozza

Stare: Instagram.com/mikescocozza

Befriend: Facebook.com/mikescocozzaofficial

Watch: YouTube.com/mikescocozza

 

The Soulmate you Deserve

Every woman needs to read this Cody Gohl blog post, “The Soulmate you Deserve.” Swoon.

The Ladies Who Wait

Hey everybody! How’s it going? I know, it’s been a while. But here’s something that’s been on my mind lately:

Things are about to get real personal. You ready?

I have not had sex in 14 months. Or kissed anyone in 14 months. One guy tried to hold my hand, but I put a stop to that pretty quick. And 14 months ago, I was married. So, you know what I’m saying.

Yes. I’m counting in months. My abstinence is a newborn. Well, a toddler, now. Let’s be honest, my abstinence is walking, talking, and growing teeth. Soon it’ll be doing taxes. As the great Bridget Jones would say, ” it’s been so long, I think my virginity is growing back.”

What led me to this sensual desert? I’ll tell you.

Phase One: The first few months after things went kaput, I was in denial, mourning, and overall adjusting to changing the portrait I had painted of what my life would be. I was in that stage where if any other guy touched me, I probably would’ve broken down in tears. Not sexy. And if sexy, not a guy you wanna be with.

Phase Two: Feeling open to dating, but everyone around you is still getting used to you being single and all the guys who are single, still see you as married and imagine you’re an emotional hot mess, which, let’s face it, you probably are.

Phase Three: Decided to live with my parents for three months in between moving from Florida to New York City. They live in the middle of nowhere, and why in the world would I try to date anyone when I’m leaving in three months, currently living with my parents, and don’t have a car?

Phase Four: Finally, move to New York. Open to dating. But for some reason, nothing happens. I meet people. I do the OkCupid thing. I take classes and am involved in projects. And nothing has happened.

Three months go by. And here we are. It’s not that I haven’t had fun, been enjoying myself, been growing, learning, and loving life. It’s not that I haven’t moved all over the country in the past year and had the biggest mental and emotional overhaul of my life to date.

But this is where I am. And people are shocked when I tell them. But here’s the thing. I’m not.

The time has flown by, ladies. And like they always say, when it’s meant to happen, it will. I take solace in this.

I always joke that I could be a “one night stand” kind of gal. But you know what? I don’t think that’s true. Something is wired in me to where, for some reason, it simply doesn’t happen. I am a late bloomer, I think. First kiss didn’t come ’til I was 18 and it was with the man I ended up marrying.I sometimes say it’s my moral compass, but it’s not even that, really. I believe if I stood in a crowded room with my eyes closed and my lips puckered, for some cosmic, unknown reason, I would spend the hours without anyone penetrating the invisible protective orb around me.

So, what’s the good thing about this? Can we talk about that? Let’s spin this positively, shall we? For those of you who feel like me- like the words “dry spell” don’t even begin to cover it (it’s more like “water was never invented – what’s wa-ter?”)- listen up. It’s not so bad.

#1. You have time to spend on YOU. That’s right. Watch all the Doctor Who you want. Or, be productive and take that swing dance class. Or hell, both.
#2. You don’t have to spend time worrying about how you look, why all your clothes suck, must shave every six hours, must always look perfect even when sick and going to the pharmacy.
#3. You’re not consistently dealing with an emotional hangover from every male encounter where you have to pick up the little pieces from your still fragile heart.
#4. You don’t want it. You’re not looking for it. If it comes along, great, if not, great. And here’s the thing; I don’t mean this as a game. Like, if I pretend to not care the one will show up, so I’ll pretend to not care. REALLY DON’T CARE. Then, you know what? You really won’t care. It’s a win win. He shows up, great. He doesn’t, great. See how this one puts all that “alone forever” anxiety to rest?
#5. It’s empowering to know that YOU’RE responsible for your own happiness. Just because you haven’t “gotten any” in a while, or haven’t “been on a date.” Who cares? This doesn’t define you. Maybe it’s because I’m hypothyroid and I take my hormones with a glass of water each morning, but any and all “urges” are not dehabilitating. Really. You’re gonna be okay. You won’t die. You won’t shrivel up or grow cobwebs. Or forget. Or get bad.
#6. My conscience is clear. I know that I have requirements and standards for who sees me naked. And I want the next guy in my life to get that. To like it about me. Cause chances are, it’ll make him feel pretty freakin’ special, too.

Before I peace out, I want to be clear: This is not me condemning those who love to explore, be free, be wild. I admire you. Sincerely. Some days I wish I was more like you. Fact is, I’m just not. And I’m hoping I’m not alone out there. So, this is for the chicks who are doin’ it on their own. In every sense. Because people don’t often go to bat for us. Especially people without religious messages. So this is me, stepping up to the plate for the ladies who wait.

Internet Love vs. Internet Letdown

Let me set the scene…….

It was a crisp, cold February evening, the night before Valentine’s Day. I wasn’t feeling particularly happy, as I felt like I already knew my husband would make little or no effort to make this a special or memorable event! We were sitting down on opposite sides of a large corner sofa. It’s strange that he was even watching telly with me, as he used to go out every night. I don’t remember what we were watching but I remember the adverts.

Oh, I forgot to mention this Valentine’s Day would have also been our three year wedding anniversary! So then this commercial comes on:

“Being single can be amazing. So if you’re going to give it up, it has to be for someone who makes being a couple the best thing in the world. At eHarmony we really get to know you, that way we can introduce you to someone really worth getting to know.”

It was like I could feel the pressure building in the room and smell the gut-wrenching catastrophe which was about to become real. I could feel my breathing tighten. Many people don’t know I suffer from anxiety and sometimes struggle with my breathing when I have attacks. I could feel the panic set in.

“We need to talk,” he said. Then, he was gone. Of course I had the obligatory week of despair where I went into denial and begged him to come back everyday. But anyway, I think I have grounds to sue eharmony.

Instead I joined. That’s right you read that correctly, I joined the site! ‘If you can’t beat them join them’ so they say! I have always been a fan of irony and in my opinion it doesn’t get much better than this. I’m also a believer in fate and could this be mine? eHarmony spured on the end of my unhappy marriage in order to find me someone who would treat me how I simply deserve?

Anyway, back to reality. I joined one week ago and have been intrigued to say the least.  Just getting to the registration part was a big step, never mind putting aside all the worries and emotional doubts about Internet dating. THE QUESTIONS WERE A NIGHTMARE! How many times can they rephrase ‘what do you like to do in your spare time?’ Then it goes on to what feels like hundreds of ‘agree /disagree’ style questions that may or may not also be used by the Government to discover terrorists and people prone to psychotic episodes. I tried to be honest and asked friends or family to help me answer a couple of questions. So I’ve sent and received a few ice breakers and smiles, and started talking to few men on within a 40-mile radius.

Here’s my advice so far:

Pictures: It’s not nice to be critical of someone’s appearance but it helps if you find them attractive. Location of a photo is important. If they are always in a pub, bar or club then enough said. If they are always sat at a computer then I’d be concerned at the extent of their social life. If they use a passport style photo as a pic, definitely no. No one looks nice in those What were you thinking….look at the backgrounds is there any tell tail signs of their personality in the pictures, if they are at home what’s the decor like. For instance if they have outdated furniture or curtains, etc. they probably still live with their mum.

What they write: As with all Internet societies, there will be people who are not who they say they are, people who are there just for a laugh and  those whose main goal is to have sex. For example, I read on one man’s hobbies list today “Making love to you harder than you’ve ever had it before.”‘ Wow! There’s so much romance in here I feel sick! See if they have hobbies in common and then use this to strike up conversation. If their whole blurb is depressing then you may not want to get involved. If you’re looking for a single dad then see how much he mentions his kids.  It’s a great way to see if he is caring. Check to see if they have pets and what kind. It’s another great way to see whether they are capable of caring for something other than themselves. Cheesy lines don’t do it for me unless they are used in a humoured way. If their profile makes me laugh this always scores them top points!

Making conversation: I always go for a quirky first message mentioning something I’ve read in their profile to show I’ve paid interest beyond their appearance. If someone calls me sexy within the first couple of messages this doesn’t bode well and let’s me know they are only interested in one thing, and that’s just not what I’m looking for. Occasional compliments are appreciated as it’s nice to know that someone likes you, but too strong too quick usually freaks me out! Wanting to exchange numbers within the first convo normally has the same reaction. I would prefer to chat for at least a few days. For people that message first- they may loose me instantly if they say things like ” I never knew angels existed ’till I saw your profile” I’m not joking, and I didn’t reply. Also, there are the copy and pasters that literally send out an email that I assume many women have read before. Boring! And those that write an essay? Seriously I’ve had to reply with ‘That’s simply too much for me to continue to read.’ How do you have the fun of getting to know someone if they do that!? I guess this part is very personal to what you like to hear from people. Also, the same old questions like “How are you?” and “What are you up to?” continuously…. try and say things of interest and hope for the same in response!

First date: Well done if you have got this far!! Whoop, whoop you! Whatever you and the other person decide to do, remember to be safe. Tell a couple of people where you are going and go somewhere public and just relax. You can usually tell if this is someone you will click with on that first date. If it doesn’t go to plan just be honest, everyone appreciates honesty!


Good luck if any if you ladies are attempting this approach to get back out there! I’ll be honest with you- I stopped writing this blog half way through after being on two websites for less than a week. I got too freaked out by it all and decided it wasn’t for me. But I stuck at it a bit longer because sometimes it’s nice just to have people to talk to (if you’re a single mum stuck at home when kids in bed, etc). And then just as I was about to chuck it in…….I met someone!  Date number two today, wish me luck ladies.

xx

My Pursuit of True Happiness

Since the day I decided to be a part of this wonderful website as a blogger, I’ve been seriously struggling choosing a topic. For the past couple of weeks, “writer’s block” would be an understatement. I have figured out the source of my inability to put my thoughts into words, and that’s exactly what I’m going to write about: dating after divorce.

You may be thinking, “What does writers block have to do with dating?” and let me tell you, for myself at least, right now it has everything to do with it.

Before I got married, I had the perception (or miss-perception)  that a relationship should fulfill you in every way. I believed that a person should be able to get everything they need out of a relationship: socially, emotionally, physically, and mentally. That’s where the problem lies: Both during my marriage and after my separation, I began to realize just how important having a well balanced life is to my well-being.

I consider myself somewhat regimented, but mostly a free spirit. I need to go out, do things, have fun, laugh, and in general enjoy as much of my life as I possibly can. I need these things to truly feel alive, and without it, I am like the walking dead, going though each day lifeless and miserable. Prior to my marriage, and subsequent divorce, I ignored that need. I put all of my energy into my love and into my relationship, thinking that by doing so, I would eventually fulfill that need.

Boy was I wrong… My relationship with my ex did begin that way, it was full of life, laughter, fun, and excitement. I ignorantly applied that feeling towards the rest of my life and my need was fulfilled. However, once I came to the realization that there is more to life than a boy (SHOCKER!) is when my relationship, my life, and myself started to crumble. I grew more miserable by the day. It was like every ounce of energy, and who I was, was being slowly and devastatingly sucked out of me. Eventually, this (amongst many, many other things) lead to the demise of my marriage and subsequent divorce.

A few months after my separation, I began to feel alive again. I started to enjoy things I had forgotten I enjoyed: I went out with friends, I exercised, I picked up hobbies, but most importantly, I was being ME again. Perhaps I am the one to blame for allowing myself to believe in the misconception that my relationship should be the only source of life and happiness, but perhaps it was my subconscious allowing me to believe in this knowing that I was not with the right person. Either way, it eroded my life in a way I never want to happen again.

Fast forward to today. I have been dating a wonderful, caring, smart, handsome man for the past couple of months, who has also been though separation and who will soon also be given the almighty divorce stamp. Not only do we share in experience and understanding of the process of separation, heartache, and divorce, but we truly care for each other, share many interests, and enjoy each other’s company. As much as this man makes me happy, I have found myself slipping into a familiar rut for the past couple of weeks. Recently, I have not been able to think or enjoy anything around me (including writing for this blog!). I have been trying desperately to figure out where the source of this misery has been coming from, and today it finally  hit me: I have been slowly slipping back into my old habits. I started to uphold my current relationship to the standards I held my previous; I was expecting this to be my be-all end-all of personal happiness. For the past few weeks, and particularly this morning at breakfast, I have found myself wanting, no, needing to be alive again. I have been making that familiar mistake of blaming my unhappiness on everything but the main place where it belongs, on myself.

When it comes down to it, we are all ultimately responsible for our own happiness.

For myself, I need to get out there and do things, whether it is with my boyfriend, or out on my own. That means I need to make a conscious effort to remind myself what makes me happy, and go do it. I cannot continue to blame my boyfriend, my period, my job, my friends, or anything else for why I am not happy. I need to take full responsibility and do something about it. Don’t get me wrong, if the relationship isn’t working, it’s not working – and it may or may  not be our faults. Dating itself can be a daunting, and sometimes disappointing task, but if we can make sure we are happy with our lives beforehand, it will be that much easier to distinguish happiness in our dating lives as well – and whether the relationship is really working or not.  When it comes to dating, having a fling, developing into a relationship, and eventually into a marriage – especially after divorce –  we all need to make it a priority to make sure we are truly fulfilled, both in our relationship, and OUTSIDE of our relationship as well, that’s when we can truly find happiness in both.

-K

Get Back Out There!

Whether you’ve been in a long-term, “is this burning an eternal flame?” relationship or had a fly-by-night, “hey, you look great in those jeans, let’s get married” short-term partnership, there will come a time when you’re ready to re-enter the dating game. For some of you this may come six months into this new life and for others it may be six seconds. While it can be tricky navigating the dating world it can surely be a hell of a lot of fun. Some may throw caution to the wind and dive in full force (not only did I do this in the beginning, but I highly recommend it) while some may be weary and a tad fearful of the unchartered terrain. An important thing to keep in mind that we’ve already married our Mr. Wrongs and now we have a world of potential Mr. Rights (or Right Nows).

I know one of the topics that comes up is how does one go about meeting a datable guy? The possibilities are endless, from chance meetings, to old acquaintances, to even coworkers (depending on the type of workplace), to the check-out line at the grocery store. Fun fact: You can always spot the single guy using a basket and shopping for groceries at Target. My first (and subsequent 2nd and so on) dates were with a man I met during several chance encounters on my lunch break at a local pizzeria. He was a pursuer, sexy, older, and he really gave me the desire to get back out there and enjoy myself. A key point is to let go of your anxieties and just have fun. This is your time!

Once you’ve been in a relationship you learn the ins and outs, things get comfortable, they settle down.  You know what to expect and the thrills can sometimes be few and far between. What I find so great about dating is that it puts you outside of that comfort zone and allows you a fresh start (hello, this is not a new concept for a young divorcée!). Be yourself, be confident, and remember it’s only a date. A single guy friend of mine shared recently that he always goes into a first date with no expectations, this way if it’s shitty he’s not disappointed and if it’s a lot of fun, it’s a welcome surprise. I think this is a great concept and something I’ve been trying. Sure, we set the bar high this time around, but take chances and explore the potential. Will you hit it off with every date? Nope. Will you kiss your fair share of frogs? You betcha. Will you sometimes have so much fun you’ll feel footloose and fancy-free? I guarantee it.

So now that you’re getting ready for that date I’d like to share a few parting thoughts: Whether you’re rocking fierce stilettos and a mini or your favorite jeans and Chuck Taylors, own them. Pardon the cliché but confidence is always the best accessory. Remember everything that makes you fabulous and dive on in!