7 Unexpected benefits from working with a dating coach
I'd shake my head and answer I was too busy with the kids, barely had enough time for myself let alone a date or that I wasn't ready.
After a while, I knew all that wasn't true. The truth was I was scared. I'd been with my husband for twenty years, I had no clue how to start dating. I didn't enjoy dating the first time around and I didn't want to go through that again.
What I really wanted was to just fast forward into a committed relationship with a man and skip over alll the first dates.
Then a friend suggested a dating coach. I didn't know such experts existed but that was no surprise since I hadn't so much as set a toe in the dating pool for over twenty years. I didn't know what to expect but I knew I needed help so I agreed to meet with Your Tango Expert Sheila Paxton. Sheila outlined her Fit4love program and I committed to the program, and to blogging about my experience along the way.
Now when I look back over the program I can see that not only did it prepare me for dating, but there were some unexpected benefits too.
- I stopped blaming myself for my divorce. This was major progress. My coach helped me understand that the blame was something I was holding over myself. Through our discussions I came to see that I'd lost respect for my husband because of his behavior. He was responsible for his behavior, not me.
- I've opened up. I get into conversations more easily now and I'm more approachable, more friendly. I credit smiling for this. That was my first step in learning how to flirt. Just smiling is good on it's own. It's like a daily dose of medicine. It makes me feel happier.
- I have more confidence. I am who am and I can honor my talents to the fullest. I don't have to downplay them to make myself attractive to others. It's hard to explain but I feel more relaxed, more at ease, more comfortable. I like who I am.
- I know my values. People often use 'expectations' to describe values and then they talk about setting expectations too high and having to lower them when they get frustrated with the dates they're getting. I've learned that I lowered my self-expectations/compromised my values significantly over the past twenty years and the end result was losing myself. Not going to do that again.
- I've learned about intentionality. The women I've interviewed who seemed to have thrived after divorce, are those that recognized they had choices, that they had control even when the rug had been pulled from underneath them. They made conscious and deliberate choices. The same applies to dating. It's very empowering. I have control. I can be the chooser. This is a very different model than the culture in which I was raised.
- I'm comfortable talking about dating. Given all the conversations my coach and I have had, I'm now armed with the language of dating and don't feel clumsy talking about it. I've been able to tell friends that I'm ready to date and to ask them for introductions. When they ask me, what I'm looking for, I have my values all ready instead of being vague and saying, "Well, you know, someone like me .."
- I've learned the interpersonal skills I use in other settings apply to dating and practicing those skills will bring benefits all round.
I've also learned the importance of having a dating vision. Unlike back in my twenties, it doesn't mean making sure I have a date every weekend. It doesn't mean feeling anxious because I don't have a date. I have a rich and full life as a single woman. I'm comfortable with being alone and I also enjoy socializing. My vision of dating this second-time around is about enjoying the journey of meeting new people with shared values and eventually, meeting a gentleman who I can't imagine living without.
Mandy Walker is a divorce writer, coach and mentor at Since My Divorce, the divorce support blog. You can download her workbook, Visioning Your Life After Divorce for free when you subscribe for email updates.