Dear Nicole: How do I re-enter the dating scene?

Ask Nicole

Q. I’ve been divorced for three years and am ready to date again – finally. This is a somewhat scary idea as I move a little past middle age. I think I can handle the “romance” part of dating, but some of the practical stuff is worrying me. Surely the fellow isn’t expected to pick up all dating expenses these days. But do daters alternate or go halfs? If you live on the opposite end of town do you just meet up or is one expected to fetch the other for a date? If a taxi is taken is that shared? I really need to get the practical points covered before I take the plunge.

— Nervous Newbie from Ellsworth  


Just take a deep breath, it’s going to be OK!

Rules for dating: 1) Be open. 2) Be safe. 3) Be honest.

Be open: If you ask someone out, you get to pay. If that means meeting for a drink instead of dinner or going snowshoeing instead of seeing a movie, that’s fine. Just be ready to pay if it was your idea. (Aside: Everyone should always have enough cash on them to get them out of a situation. Example: make an emergency getaway, pay for a tow truck, etc.) If the date is going well, stay out. If the person is weird, tell them it was nice to meet them and be on your way. Be open to new experiences. That’s what dating is about!

Be safe: In terms of meeting up, I always thought it was weird when a guy wanted to pick me up. Stranger danger indeed. Meet at the date location, save getting in each other’s cars for longer rides and after you’ve been out a few times with someone (nothing like being stuck in Bangor with a psycho first date who is your only ride home).

Be honest: Not sure if you should text someone after 9 p.m.? Not sure if your date is expecting you to pay? Ask them! Everyone comes to dating with different expectations and making sure you understand what your date wants/needs means you’ll come off as a considerate partner. Anyone who doesn’t want to answer your questions is not worth your time… or may be hiding something. Good luck. You’ll be great. Just get a few dates under your belt so you are less nervous.


Q. I have an adorable little dog that I love dearly. “Tiny” and I have been solo companions for seven years. I’ve recently become involved with “Greg,” a wonderful man who really likes “Tiny.” “Tiny,” however, is very resentful of my time with “Greg.” If all he did was pout we could live with that. But he constantly humps Greg’s leg even in front of company! I could never throw “Tiny” over for Greg, nor do I want to lose Greg because of Tiny’s unwanted and embarrassing attention. Help!

— Mortified mother of a Chihuahua in Clifton


My old dog used to hump my ex-boyfriend’s leg. It was the only leg she ever humped; it was kind of interesting. Sadie (my mortification) ended up cooling it once she realized the guy was not going anywhere (well, he did eventually, but that’s another story).

You need to discipline Tiny, as much as you don’t want to. Humping should not mean anything fun happens to him/her after you stop the behavior. A little time in an obedience class also may help. But while your relationship is new, establish rules you and Greg can agree on with respect to Tiny (Greg may want this and may be too shy to ask you to do it!).

It may also help if Greg and Tiny have some specific bonding thing they do together. Maybe Greg is the only person who gives Tiny his/her favorite treat. Maybe Greg and Tiny go on a short walk by themselves when Greg is visiting. Clearly these two need time to get to know each other… and even if they don’t fall in love, there is no reason they can’t at least go an entire day in peaceful, hump-free company. You just need to give this time, and Greg does too. But if you have no boundaries with your dog, no man is going to enjoy third-wheeling in your life together, so take this opportunity to figure out how three can be better than two.

Nicole Ouellette

Nicole Ouellette

When Nicole isn't giving advice she's completely unqualified to give, she runs an Internet marketing company in Bar Harbor, where she lives with her husband Derrick and their short dog Gidget. She loves young adult novels, cooking and talking French to anyone who'll talk back. [email protected]
Nicole Ouellette

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