You’re finally free!
Your divorce is final and you’re about to start the next chapter of your life. Some of you want to take some time to let the dust settle and get your new life in order. Others will almost immediately jump back into the world of dating.
I applaud those of you that recognize you need to take some time for yourself and get used to your new life. For the rest of you, here’s some food for thought. You’re probably telling yourself that you’ve done all the healing you need to do. You’ve been separated for two or three years. You’re ready to start dating again, and maybe already have while you were separated.
After experiencing divorce for myself, working with and talking to hundreds of singles, here are some realities of the next few years post-divorce.
The first year.
During the first year after your divorce you’re going to experience a wide range of emotions. You’ll probably experience joy and relief because your unhealthy relationship is now over. Even if you didn’t see it as unhealthy, it probably was.
You’re going to question if you did enough to make your marriage work. You’ll think about what you might have done differently and said differently. You’ll probably regret some of the things you said and did.
You’ll grieve the loss of the marriage no matter how bad it was. It’s a natural response and the longer you were married, the longer it will take to grieve, heal, and learn from it. A good rule of thumb is to allow one month for every year you were married. For example, if you were married for 20 years, give yourself about 20 months to move past the divorce.
Dating has changed since the last time you were single.
If you were married for 20, 30, or even 40 year and suddenly find yourself single, you’re in for a couple of surprises. While the act of dating hasn’t changed much, there are a lot of differences. Texting, online dating, and social attitudes about premarital sex have created a dating environment that can sometimes seem hostile.
Odds are, the last time you dated, texting wasn’t a common form of communication, if it even existed at all. In so many ways it allows us to connect with someone without ever really getting to know them.
It is a very flat form of communication and is a major cause of miscommunication. Research shows that 93% of the context of a conversation is lost when only the written word is used. Yet, texting and instant messaging have become the preferred source of conversation with a growing number of people.
In my opinion, texting is okay for very basic initial conversations. Beyond that, it’s time to talk on the phone and then move to coffee or cocktails. You’ll never really get to know someone until you can meet them face to face. This is where you can see if you have any chemistry.
Online dating has evolved in the past 20 years or so. It was once very frowned upon as a way of getting to meet someone. Now, it has become accepted for the most part.
You’ll hear plenty of horror stories about scammers, cheaters, and liars populating the online dating sites. While there is some truth to these stories, most of them are blown out of proportion. The reality is that there are great men and women to be discovered online.
Online dating is simply a tool to help you meet people you wouldn’t normally meet in your daily life. The responsibility lies on you to learn to learn how to use this tool effectively. You need to learn to identify fakes and frauds quickly and move on. It’s your responsibility to look out for yourself. There are plenty of online resources to help you do that.
One of the downsides of the sixties free love culture and the feminist movement is that it has stripped sex of the special role it plays in the life of a relationship. It has become a commodity. There is no longer a stigma associated to sleeping with someone or living with someone you’re not married to.
The rationale that I hear from both men and women is that they want to make sure there is sexual compatibility before making any kind of long-term commitment. While this may sound quite logical, research has proven that the longer you wait to have sex (and waiting until marriage is best) the stronger your relationship will be.
In today’s world however, 80% of couples end up in bed on or before the 8th date. I’m not here to tell you how to live your life. What I’m telling you is that if you’re looking for a strong, long-lasting relationship, hold off on the sex until you’ve had time to get to know each other. Try to be one of the 5% that waits until marriage.
Take your time
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about starting over and some of the emotional issues that most of us go through. I emphasized that you need to take your time before getting back into the dating world. Get yourself emotionally healthy first. Check out my blog post #280 – Starting over .
It doesn’t make any difference how long you were separated before your divorce. The real healing and growing starts after your divorce is final.
Get crystal clear about what you want
Most people can tell me more about what the don’t want than what they do want. This is a critical dating mistake. Most people immediately start looking for the opposite of the relationship they just left.
Take your time to figure out what you do want. It will make your dating life so much easier. Think about it in these terms. Have you ever gone out car shopping and found just the right car?
Let’s say you fell in love with a white Ford Focus. After you leave the car lot you suddenly start to see white Ford Focuses everywhere.
The same thing happens when you focus on relationships. When you focus on the negative aspects of relationships, that’s what you’ll find. When you focus on the positive aspects of relationship, that’s what you’ll find.
Learn to be patient, especially with yourself. I haven’t met or worked with anyone yet that didn’t want to move on and move on NOW! All good things happen in time. If you try to force things to move to quickly, you’ll end up regretting it and have to start over, usually with the grieving and healing process.
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 “Starting and ending a conversation with someone.”