Some of you mistakenly feel that because your marriage(s) ended, you're at a disadvantage. Ladies, nothing could be further from the truth. To be honest, and you know I'm never anything but, divorced girls have a huge advantage. Think about all your invaluable experience! You're not some starry-eyed twenty-something who runs home crying to mommy the first time your husband criticizes you. You know what it takes to make a relationship work, and what will make it crash and burn. You know how to love and how not to love. Men are more likely to look at never-been-married woman over thirty-five and ask, "What's wrong with her?" than they are to say the same thing about a similarly aged woman who is divorced. At least you tried—at least someone picked you. You get big brownie points for this. It sounds harsh to those of us who have never been married, but it's true, and the truth hurts me as much as anyone else, because, as you know, I've never been married. I know what men say about me.

Divorced ladies, for all the trauma and heartbreak you've been through, consider the hard-fought advantages you've won:

1. You're better able to weed out the losers. You've been in the program before, you know all the signs, both good and bad, so you're better able to assess if he'll make a good husband.

2. You can discern his interest level, and your own, much quicker. You don't waste time kidding yourself that this might work if you just give it one more shot. Experience has made you a realist.

3. You're not desperate. You know that, yes, you can recover from a heartbreak, and, no, he's not the last man on earth. You also know that it's better to be alone and happy than in a crappy relationship.

4. Your stock is higher because you've been picked. Men register this in their minds, whether consciously or subconsciously. And if your ex-husband was someone prominent in your community, your stock goes up even higher.

5. You have more realistic expectations. Men love this, because they don't feel the pressure to be perfect. They know that you've seen a man in gross old underwear before and accepted him, warts and all.

These are among the reasons divorced women tend to get married again quicker than a woman of the same age who has never been married. The never-been-married woman deliberates for freaking ever!

However, there is a big difference between the separated woman and the divorced woman. If your divorce is not yet final, chances are you're not quite ready to date yet, because all your issues with your ex have not yet been resolved. You might even still be having ex-sex, so those oxytocin bonds are still binding you to your former husband, and you'll never be able to give it a real shot with anyone new. My advice to the separated woman is to resolve those financial, emotional, and custody issues ASAP so you can move on. You're crazy if you think he'll come back to you once the divorce proceedings have begun. If he initiated the separation, it's likely he was out the door, both emotionally and physically, the second he asked for the split—as a matter of fact, he probably bailed out of the marriage six months prior to that and was just waiting for the right time to tell you. You need to cut your losses and get the hell out of there right away. You might have to give a little in your settlement demands, but that's a good sign that you're over him. Don't waste one more second of your time or your youth on someone who has rejected you. If you've done the rejecting, you're already over him, so why waste any more time? Make the separation period as short as possible, sign the papers, and move on!

Now that you've spent thirty to ninety days in Dating Detox, you'll be cleaner inside than if you'd just gone through a major power colonic, figuratively speaking. You've purged all the bad attitudes, memories, and men from your system, you've found your own happy place, and you're mentally and spiritually ready to move on to the next step. You've made your inner self beautiful; now it's time to do a little (a lot?) of work on your outer self.

10 things you should never talk about on a first date

Patti's advice for a picky fortysomething

Thou shall follow Patti's 11 dating commandments
Become Your Own Matchmaker by Patti Stanger. Published by Atria Books. ?? 2009


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