Since this is my first blog of a new year and a new decade, what better topic to begin with than Starting Over.
This is one of the hardest things to do after a relationship ends. It doesn’t make any difference whether you just ended a long-term relationship, are divorced, or widowed; you have to start over.
Regardless of how or why your relationship or marriage ended, there are some universal truths about starting life over as a single. Even thought your situation may seem different and how you handle it is unique to you, these truths still apply. I’d like to share some of these truths with you here.
You’re not alone. You’re not the first one to go through what you’re experiencing. It’s so easy to think that your situation is so unique that no one else could possibly know what you’re experiencing. Stop telling yourself that lie. You’re not the first and you won’t be the last.
If you’re really struggling, seek professional help. Don’t overload yourself and handle everything on your own. It can be emotionally overwhelming.
Don’t overload your friends with your “woe is me” stories. Friends will be supportive to a point and then will eventually start avoiding you if you’re constantly bitching about your Ex with no apparent healing and not moving on.
Get referrals to good counselors or therapists. They will help you move through your emotional pain and anger and help you see that life is still good and there is plenty of joy and happiness to be had.
You need time to grieve the end of your marriage or relationship. The longer you were together, the more time it will take to grieve. As a general rule, allow yourself one month for every year you were in the relationship. For example, if you were married for 20 years, give yourself 20 months to grieve, heal, and learn from it.
While this might sound like a long time, it will fly by more quickly than you think. As you go through this process you also need to take time to rediscover yourself. You changed as a result of your marriage; we all do. Some of those changes weren’t good or healthy. They were made incrementally over time in order to keep the peace or to keep the marriage alive.
Rediscover what it is that makes you happy. What were some of the things you gave up to accommodate your spouse’s preferences (or demands)? Think about new goals that you want to accomplish. Be realistic. Sometimes the goal is as simple as just working to be able to keep food on the table and a roof over your head. Then, build from there.
Take time to get crystal clear about what you want in your next relationship. Most people know more about what they don’t want than what they do want. Research shows that you attract what you focus on. If you’re focusing on what you don’t want, guess what you’re going to find and attract!
That’s right! You’re going to find potential mates with the exact qualities that you don’t want. Then you’re going to ask, “where are all the good ones” or say “all the good ones are taken.”
The easiest way to change your focus from what you don’t what to what you do want is to create your Must Have list. This is a list of all the non-negotiable characteristics you want in your next relationship. This list must be written and stated in a positive format.
For example, rather than saying “No couch potatoes” you’d say something like “Must be physically active”. Rather than saying “No smokers”, you’d say “Must be smoke free”. You get the idea.
The thing to remember is that these are non-negotiable characteristics. If it’s something that would be nice to have, it belongs on a different list.
Not only will your list keep you focused on what you’re looking for, it will help you step back from the infatuation and raging hormones of a new relationship allowing you to take an honest look at your potential mate. Do they have everything on your Must Have list and none of your Deal Breakers?
If the answer is yes, they are a great candidate to keep dating. If your answer is no, then it’s time to move on. There’s no sense in dating someone if there is no possibility that it will be an extraordinary relationship this time.
Even if you were separated for two or three years, the real grieving and healing starts the day your divorce is final. This wisdom was shared with me right after my divorce and I didn’t believe it. You might try to tell me that you’re already done grieving and have done a lot of healing.
The reality is you don’t know what you don’t know. You will become a significantly different person in the next year or so. It took me about 13 months to recognize the major changes in my happiness. It came in the form of an acknowledgement from my best friend when he observed that he hadn’t heard me sound that good in a long, long, time.
Take your time getting back into the dating world. Too many people, especially men, tend to jump back in when they aren’t emotionally ready. I know…I was one of them. You need to take time to get comfortable being alone.
You’re going to get lonely. We all do. It’s human nature. Learn to be happy with your own company. This will set you up to date more successfully with far less drama in your life.
Take your time to get crystal clear about what you want in your next relationship and make a conscious effort to not settle for less than extraordinary.
I sincerely hope you’ll think about what I’ve shared with you today and use this information to help you be more proactive and successful in your dating life.
Join me next week for “Getting past your Ex.”