You Can Find True Love After Divorce — But There's Something You Need To Do First

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brunette woman looks into camera

I thought it would last forever. "Happily ever after… the first time around" is the ending of every wedding fairytale, right?

But that’s not the way things went. And watching my marriage bubble get busted left me wondering if I could ever find true love after divorce.

I was 36. I had known my (then) husband for over 16 years. He had been an important part of my world for over a third of my life. And suddenly everything was just… gone. 

I was divorced, alone, marked (or so I believed) by my failure at marriage.

RELATED: Why Divorce Isn't Always A Tragedy

Is it possible to find true love after divorce?

I’m an intelligent person. I went to excellent universities. I have a graduate degree. And I believe I’m a practical, grounded person.

And yet, here I was, 36-years-old, I spent 16 years of my life in this ill-fitting relationship (11 years of it in marriage)… and then divorced.

When I got married, I had most of my life ahead of me with my hopes and dreams for my future. And yet, I had not seen this coming.

I was broadsided by my failed marriage and was left with all these questions that were left in its wake.

How did this happen?

Why didn’t I see it coming?

What was my role in the demise of my marriage?

Will I ever be able to find true love after divorce, or have I missed my one chance?

I needed answers. I knew my sanity and healing depended on getting them. But it went beyond that.

My future happiness and any relationship I might have also required that I have the answers.

So I went on a quest to find out why my marriage had dissolved. I was determined to learn how to get love right this time.

Because this was before the time of podcasts, webinars, and YouTube videos, I went back to school. I took a course on relationships and joined a group of marriage-minded people who wanted to improve their relationship skills.

After participating in this group program, I hired the relationship coach who had taught it. I wanted the one-on-one attention that would help me delve into my personal blind spots. And I wanted to gain greater clarity about the kind of man I needed to attract.

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What I had learned was this: if I was going to find true love after divorce, I had to go to work on myself first.

No amount of focusing on the other person (who wasn’t even in my life yet) was going to guarantee me relationship success.

The other thing I had learned was that finding true love takes a lot of work. I had to work on myself — my thoughts, my dreams, my behaviors, and my "issues." And I had to learn how to be in a loving relationship.

That meant learning from my past (my broken marriage, that is) by looking at it with new eyes.

If I was determined to find true love after divorce, I had to do the work. I had to work on my self-knowledge. And I had to own my personal role in why my relationships hadn’t worked in the past.

Five years after starting this journey, I met my now-husband. We got married the year after we met and we’ve been married for almost 18 years now.

This "true love after divorce" wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t embarked on that journey into myself.

Was it a lonely journey? Sometimes. Was it a frustrating journey? A lot of the time. Was it an enlightening journey? Always.

I know you want that experience of true love, too. You wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t.

So here are my questions for you.

What are you doing to improve your own self-knowledge and relationship skills?

How are you working to become the best possible relationship partner you can be?

What lessons did you learn about how to be in a loving relationship from your failed marriage?

And this is important: Are you even ready to start dating and meet your true love?

Desire and longing aren’t enough if you haven’t done the work to be truly prepared.

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Amy Schoen is a D.C.-based national expert in dating and relationship life coaching who offers Meet Your Mate Strategy Sessions