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Romance After A Divorce—Your 7 Do's AND Don'ts


AThinking of stepping back into the dating world—PLEASE READ this first!

I guess I see myself as somewhat of an expert on Romance after Divorce—not something I can say I am proud of, but all the same its something that I can say is working well in my life (the romance bit—not the divorce bit.

At the end of my first divorce I fell in love. Madly in love. Blindly. Passionately. Deeply IN LOVE. I stuck a few band-aids on my wounds, spent a few minutes addressing my behavioral patterns, and DOVE IN. We got married a few years later and divorced a couple after that.

Ok I might be exaggerating a little here. Lets give me some credit. My relationship with the woman who became my second wife, started as a long distance one. For two years we lived an ocean and half a continent apart. So we did not jump right into marriage (we lived together for another year before doing this). We blended families (perhaps the most challenging concept of my life). Sought out therapists as struggles arose. We moved states. I changed careers. In the end we did not survive our struggles despite the passion we felt in the beginning.

And, there are a few things that I now see we could have created that would have been a HUGE benefit to our marriage—possibly saved it (or prevented it from happening).

Since then I’ve been through a few casual relationships. Now, I am in a loving, passionate, supportive, thriving and romantic relationship with an incredible woman. As we dance through our 4th year together, I’m noticing the changes in how I relate to relationships. I don’t have a fix at all, I don’t have a cure, I do have a few ideas that work for me …

Suggestion #1a: Know that we all (or at least a bunch of us) go through some thought like this: "there is no one out there for me," or "I blew it—my one shot at my perfect partner" or "there is not a chance in hell that I will fall in love (or fall in love again)" or … your own version of disaster.

Just know that these are all stories. You can hang on to them for as long as you want. Keep gathering evidence that they are true. OR you can let them go, settle into the joys of being single, stop ”waiting” for him or her, and LIVE. For my self, and the work I have done with others, its clear to me that people that take on practices that invoke enjoying their life and concentrate on their own growth – tend to end up in healthy relationships not long after.

Do: HAVE FUN. Enjoy the passion. Live it fully. And communicate! In this day’n age of online dating—the "rules" seem to have been thrown out the window. Leave them there—make up your own and communicate them.
Don’t: Make assumptions.

Do: Date more than one person at a time (if you want—I was not really into this) BUT as soon as it becomes clear there is one that is special—(nicely) ditch the others. For many men/women this could mean if you are having sex with him/her, you are not having sex with another at the same time. If you are not sure, go back to Suggestion #1.
Don’t: Lie. Seems obvious but don’t. Don’t lie to yourself or another. It really doesn’t work. And just to be clear—I’m talking about the big stuff, like if you are dating other people. Very early on, in my current relationship we created an "honesty policy" … it is pretty simple really: when I am wondering IF I should tell Lisa something, well, that's the rule, I tell her.

Do: Get Clear. As soon as you feel there is a future (this does not mean forever—just something that is no longer "casual"), REALLY get clear on what you are looking for. This is perhaps the most risky of the suggestions as it may end your relationship (if you realize your wants are different). Create a relationship manifesto—describing the mission of your relationship. Figure out if you are thinking long term or not, what does that mean? What do you support in each other? Kids? Etc Etc
Don’t: Cruise along suspecting she/he wants something different waiting for that bomb to drop … because it will … and it ain’t pretty.

#4: Maybe this should be #1 ...
Do: your work. End your previous relationship. Work on your sh&t. Evolve.
Don’t: Think the new she/he will fix all your problems. Even if your previous partner is "obviously wacko" you were crazy enough to invite him/her in to your life so sort out your sh&t. And—we are all evolving, don’t expect perfection here, just don’t walk into a new relationship with a suitcase overloaded with exclamation points.

Do: Keep doing your work. Guess what? Your old partner patterns are very likely to re-appear (funny how that is). And there might even be a few new ones showing up that you don’t like either. We are all perfectly imperfect. Have fun with this four letter word (work). Enjoy this ride.
Don’t: Think that because you went to a weekend workshop, had three therapist sessions, and read Men are from Venus. Women are from a whole different universe, that you figured it all out. You didn’t. 

Do: Make peace with your ex. This has been a tough one for me. You don’t have to like him/her. Do your best to accept the changes that have happened in your relationship—good and bad.
Don’t: Continually process him/her with your new partner. This does not mean a wall of silence about the topic—just make sure it does not take over your romantic Sunday afternoons. And remember the perfection rule (we are perfectly imperfect) ... My relationship with the mother of my kids is far from what I would hope for—my goal is simply to be at peace (in my self) with who she is. It is still a struggle.
An important point here (especially if things are not all smooth sailing) is that you cannot control your x’s behavior, life, emotions or anything. That is his/her job. Your job is you.

Do: Take YOUR time. You might be ready to go out and date the following day or it might take years before you are ready.
Don’t: worry about what everyone else thinks. Sure—good friends can offer good advice, but listen to your inner wisdom—she/he knows best.

There are many more things that can be added to this list. Perhaps there should simply be one last point:
Be conscious of what YOU want. Be the person you want to be and with any luck you will find your equal and create a wonderful relationship with him or her.

This article was originally published at My blog page - Reprinted with permission from the author.


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