Don't Start Dating After Divorce Until You Make One Critical Move

You need to be fully healed before you jump into another relationship.

Don't Start Dating After Divorce Until You Do THIS First Ablozhka, anilakkus | Canva

You weren't expecting this so soon, but here you sit, in a dimly lit café, your throat closing up, your chest tightening as you gaze at a man who looks quite similar to his profile pictures as he smiles back at you. Leading up to this evening, you’ve had a tantalizing back-and-forth exchange of just the right amount of emails. He’s revealed himself, but not too much. And now he's sitting across from you. He’s dressed in black and is even better than you hoped for. You think to yourself: Could he be "the one?” 


Wait! Stop thinking that way!! It is not your mission to find "the one" this soon after divorce, my friend. Dating again is fine. But looking for a full-blown relationship should be approached with more caution. Before you go down that road, reflect on the marriage you just ended first. What role did you play in your last long-term relationship? You know, the one you just left, with the ink still drying on the divorce papers? It’s natural to feel a little insecure right now and want to fill the void. I certainly did. But what I learned, maybe simultaneously, in my Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde personality post-divorce, is that eventually in your divorce recovery, you have to take a hold of yourself. You have to shake off the dust and examine the wounds, the wounds that are just now seeing the light of day.


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To help you process your divorce thoroughly and clear the way for a healthy new relationship, give this exercise a try. It's called "Divorce Recovery Letter"...The goal is to examine what you've learned and to fully experience both the dark and light of loss. (Note: You will need a blank piece of paper and a pencil.) Instructions: Choose an issue, an object, a way of living, or a relationship (hint, it’s probably the last one) In other words, someone/something you consider a loss. 

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Create a graph marking the highs and lows of your relationship over time. First, draw a horizontal line across a piece of paper. The space above the line represents the positive experiences. The space beneath the line represents the negative experiences. On the far left of the line, put a dot and write next to it the year the relationship began. Moving right, think about the highs and lows of your relationship as they relate to memories and events. Put a dot and a notation for each memory, either above or below the line depending on whether or not it was a positive or negative experience. For example, your marriage may represent a very positive experience so it will be very high on the page. Continue forward through the years with each important event plotted similarly. Connect the dots. Your graph should take you up to your current moment in time. Examine this line. 

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How did this exercise make you feel? Do you see anything differently from the story you told yourself before? Now write a letter to the object of the relationship. If it is your spouse, then you are writing to him/her and telling him/her how the graph makes you feel. What did you learn? What do you see when you look at the narrative line of your relationship? What responsibility did you play in the storyline?

Note: If you wrote to a person (your Ex for example) DO NOT attempt to read this letter to him/her. This is for you and is a tool to help you process your thoughts and feelings. This letter and graph represent how you have internalized and now externalized your life in this relationship. You have now documented how you feel and have felt about it. Where will you keep this graph and letter as you consider moving forward? Will you keep it in a drawer under your rolled argyle socks? Will you burn it, or put it in a box high in the closet? It's up to you.


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Liza Caldwell runs SAS for Women, a boutique firm that specializes in helping women free themselves from dysfunctional and unhappy relationships.