Tips on Dating After Divorce: Interview with Tina B. Tessina PhD

Tina Tessina
The dating world is an ever-evolving realm. Societal changes and even technological advancements, such as the readily-accessible Internet can have a profound affect on dating. Though some rules of romance remain universal, the platform upon which they operate can be a little daunting. Fortunately, there exist relationship experts such as Tina B. Tessina who know all the ins and outs regarding dating in the 21st century.

About Tina B. Tessina, PhD

A true expert in the world of dating and relationships, Tina B. Tessina, PhD. is licensed psychotherapist residing in sunny California. She possesses 25 years of experience counseling individuals and couples. Along with her busy schedule, she has managed to author eleven bestselling books on relationships, publish an e-email newspaper and host a weekly radio show.

In 2002, Tina B. Tessina, PhD published the book The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again. An outstanding guide for anyone involved in the dating scene today and particularly useful for those reentering dating after a divorce, separation or other relationship loss. It covers information for handling the Internet dating world, overall success strategies and general safety. A must read for anyone who is unclear about current dating standards.

Life Experience Turns Professional

LovetoKnow: What is your background and how did you got started in dating and relationships?

Tina B. Tessina: I'm a licensed marriage and family psychotherapist in California. I was an accountant for about 15 years, and first became interested in being a therapist after seeking counseling myself just prior to divorcing my first husband. It was clear to me that I didn't know enough about relationships to create a viable marriage, and seven years of trying hadn't accomplished it. So, I began a learning process that eventually led me to psychotherapy as a profession, to a very happy and workable marriage, and to writing books for couples and for singles who wanted to know how to find a good relationship, and create a great partnership.

Tips on Dating After Divorce

LTK: How is dating the second time around different than the first?

TBT: Dating the first time is usually a youthful experience; one is trying to figure out what a relationship is about. Once you've had a relationship experience, good or bad, that has ended, you may be sadder, but you're much wiser. Also, you may have been "off the market" for an extended period of time. You may be mystified about how the dating scene has changed, or how you've changed because of your experiences, which will change what you want as well as how you look for a new relationship.

LTK: How would you describe the new rules of dating?

TBT: I don't think there are proper rules -- that's why people are so confused, frustrated and discouraged. A couple of generations ago, social rules were more definite. People may have chafed at the rigidity of the mores of the day, but everyone understood what was going on in his or her own socio-economic area. In this smaller world we live in today, we are mixing cultures and economic strata and we're much more mobile. Internet dating really multiplies this factor, because you can't even see the person at first. Dating strangers is risky, and often unpleasant. In the book, I focus on making dating fun, safe and effective.

LTK: Within the concept of dating again, many individuals are parents. How do the kids fit in?

TBT: There's a whole section on dating as a single parent. Many single parents today don't really consider the children in their adult dating life, or they go too far, and make the children too much a part. It's important not to involve your minor children in a succession of failed dating experiences. This means that should not discuss dating with your children, and if they meet someone you're dating, the person should be introduced as a "friend". This gives them a chance to build a relationship with this new adult, without the scary prospect of thinking that this new person may be a new stepparent to them.

Of course, you should never disclose where you live to a brand-new date, because it might put your children in jeopardy. As a parent, you must be very careful of your own, as well as your children's' welfare. In the book, I outline a step-by-step process for getting to know a new date, vetting him or her for safety, and gradually introducing the new date to your family as the relationship progresses.

LTK: What are your top two tips for individuals in the dating scene?
TBT:
  • Get a life -- and meet someone who's interested in the same things you are.
  • Develop a social network, and rather than date one-on-one, go out in groups in the beginning, until you get to know your date a little.

Relationship Insight from Tina

LTK: Any comments on sex and dating?

TBT: If you have sex right away, it becomes a sport, and that makes it very hard to develop into a relationship. If you slow down give the friendship part a chance to develop before you have sex, you have a better chance of developing a relationship that will work. Don't expect sex to cement a relationship, and don't think if you're having sex with someone, it means that person is dating you exclusively. That's a great way to get your heart broken.

LTK: As a therapist, what later relationship problems do you observe that could have been avoided through proper dating techniques?

TBT: Almost all of them. Most relationship disasters are telegraphed early in the dating process. Don't ignore clues to problems, just because you're having a good time. If you see signs of a temper, of codependence, of too much drinking, money problems, cheating, sex problems, or inability to communicate and you want a chance at success, then don't let those problems go by. Bring up what you're observing, and see if the two of you can talk about it and come up with a workable solution.

LTK: In your opinion, what makes two people a perfect match?

TBT: The ability to form a partnership, which includes responsible problem solving, expressing love and affection, effective communication, and having fun together.

LTK: What factors should blind date participants consider?

TBT: Not going? If your friends or family want you to meet someone, ask them to invite both of you to dinner, lunch, a barbecue, or a beach day, to give you a chance to meet as casual acquaintances. Don't fall into the blind date trap -- it's usually miserable.

Educated Dating

LTK: Where are the best places to gather information on dating?

TBT: The info you need is more about how to interact in social settings, how to get to know people, and how to find out what you want to know about the other person's character. In the book, I teach "stealth interviewing" which is how to draw someone into a conversation where he or she will tell you things about him or herself, and then how to analyze what you've learned in terms of the character of the person.

LTK: Anything else you would like to add?

TBT: If you want to date a lot of people, have some fun and some miserable times, then do what most everyone else does -- meet people at singles locations and events. It's like hunting for a needle in a haystack. But if you want a real relationship, with someone who is healthy enough to know how to love and to be responsible in the relationship, you need to find that person in the real world, which is what The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again will teach you to do.

Want to Know More?

Learn more about Tina B. Tessina, PhD or ask her a personal question at Couples Company.

Tips on Dating After Divorce: Interview with Tina B. Tessina PhD