Avoid these common pitfalls.
Dating after any separation, especially divorce, is filled with contradictions.
On the one hand, sex is super fun and necessary, especially if the relationship ended with a quiet and boring bedroom. However, all too often, there’s a lot of confusion around the need for intimacy, experiencing the fabulous hormones released during a quickie, true love or an easy way out.
There’s always a period of "having fun" in this phase of separation! Seriously, it’s the best part of stepping out and starting over. Rarely do those first romances last and usually, the new pain is much worse than the loss of the old partnership.
Keeping these 5 crucial truths in mind will make dating after divorce more fun and help salvage your self-esteem and self-confidence in the long run:
1. Trust your gut.
I know, this concept is talked about in every self-help book available, and that’s because it’s also the number one thing we forget to do. After a horrible breakup, most of us crave companionship so badly, we’re able to ignore all the warning signs and succumb our pickers to a pity party. Beer, anyone?
(NEWS FLASH: your picker is the combination of your heart, hormones, and head!)
Remember Maya Angelou’s known saying, "When someone shows you who they are, believe them; the first time."
But what does that really mean? Those people who study us say, "We’re the only species on earth who try to rationalize away our instincts!" I can’t tell you how often I hear, "They're so nice, they have a weekend home, they're so hot, but…"
So, if you feel it’s slimy, trust that it is slimy even if you can’t specifically describe what you’re sensing. (NEWS FLASH: it actually doesn’t even matter. You don’t have to be right about what you're picking up, you just need to start listening to yourself again.)
If you’ve gone through any sort of heartache, you’ve enough experience to understand a bad relationship.
No one wants to latch onto another person who’s going to hurt them, but this is easily done at the beginning of dating after a divorce.
2. There’s no easy way out.
I get that you want to keep the hottest girl or the wealthiest guy you meet. This DNA encoding is alive in well in our society. In fact, it’s so well-known that it's allowed to be argued between attorneys regarding maintenance!
I understand wanting a relationship or a perfect "10" but it’s usually desperation driven by fear dressed up as your new "soul mate".
Being frightened in divorce is normal... it’s also part of what you have to go through.
Wanting to have sex, to date, and to quickly get back into that familiar pattern of being in a relationship is also normal. However, there’s time for that to come, so slow down. Be on the lookout for false friends.
Really pay attention to your desire to believe the person who dangles money, prestige, or a place to live no matter how overtly or indirectly. They’re taking away your power!
The frustration of another bad relationship will suck your energy and life force never mind years and peace of mind.
Someone who respects you wants to get to know you and vice versa — no strings attached. Don’t laugh, but look for someone your mother wanted for you, who you can enjoy, play with, trust, and like... not someone who can make back-stabbing promises. Haven’t you had enough of those?
3. Yep, you’re hearing it: take responsibility for everything.
Isn’t it time? This goes along with having common sense about those you hang out with, what you’re doing, and not doing, and how you earn a living. It means blood tests and condoms. It means showing up and being your word. It means allowing a little wiggle room for God.
You now have an opportunity to find true partnership, an exciting career, and new adventures! You’re allowed to date and to be intimate in the middle of your fighting, in the middle of their messy situation if you want. These are your choices.
You make the rules starting with the decision that you’re worth it. (NEWS FLASH: this isn’t always easy to remember after a split up.)
Shift into some personal growth work and figure out how to walk away from emotionally unavailable folks, lousy jobs, or unhealthy acquaintances that no longer fit your new life. Stepping out on your own requires this balance between taking responsibility and being open to what feels right.
4. Simultaneously, and again, paradoxically, be careful of attempted re-dos.
If you’re in any sort of separation, clearing your energy before falling head first for the first person you meet is important. Breakups bring out the not such great parts of us: the needy, angry, horny teenage self that simply wants to be mean, competitive, seductive, and feeling alive.
All of this is understandable! You get to step into the force of anger and self-righteousness to create what is fair whether in litigation or not. You get to move into that steamy, sexy part of yourself that makes the tough moments easier. The fact is that sex will always be there as long as you’re healthy and fit.
However, anger and frustration, as a rule, feel justified. Falling in love and rolling around in bed with someone who — in essence —you just left, feels right.
Making love makes the pain of separation much easier to handle until the new love starts acting like the old one and your boundaries begin to get crossed again. Then it’s an awful, painful, debilitating, on-the-knees kind of moment when you realize you can’t continue being with this person anymore.
Chill out and ponder your actions. Start to enjoy being single for a while before latching onto the first guy or gal you meet. You owe that to your heart and mind.
5. It's none of your business what they think of you.
Seriously. So what if they’re younger, inappropriate, too old, another woman or man? So what if they try to make you feel guilty when you turn them down? So what if they keep circling back trying to get your attention, unable to hear you’re not interested?
It doesn’t matter what other people want for you, project upon you, promise you, or call you.
You’re the one who’s standing on your own again, figuring things out, and making your way in the world. Find out what turns you on, lights you up, and brings you joy.
The number one rule: stay away from users, addicts, manipulators, and narcissists. You know who they are and what they’re capable of doing.
So here you have it! The 5 crucial truths my clients bring to me week after week. (And I’ve had to experience quite a bit myself!)
What’s the big takeaway for you? Where are you missing the mark? These 5 crucial truths will slow you down and give you the space to adjust to being single and, if you wish, selecting a true partner.
This article was originally published at laurabonarrigo.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.