As Valentine’s Day approaches you and your broken heart, the part of your that still believes in love is wondering about dating again. Who among us doesn’t want the delicious feelings of butterflies as they anticipate meeting a new lover? Of course, a part of you wants to be wrapped up in someone’s arms, held carefully, safely, and cherished beyond any other relationship.
But Cupid’s arrow has a sharp tip and way too often, in the rush to find Love, those coming out of a disappointing marriage, go head first into a familiar dynamic. This is a major pitfall of dating after divorce. What feels comfortable is what you just left and even though that lover may look different, all too often, you’re making the same mistakes in love. This is the dating advice to prevent a future separation and divorce, never mind, more lonely nights and heartfelt tears. Get ready!
You and you alone are going to have to do the work to change the way you date and fall in love, the way you marry and commit.
It’s not up to them. They’re not going to show up wrapped in a bow (unless you’re into that) just the way you want them to be.
They’re not going to immediately accept all the parts of you your Ex wouldn’t and couldn’t accept.
They’re not going to fall for you if you’re not as good as you can be (and you know what that means for you and your body, mind, heart, and spirit).
You’re going to have to make the courage to vulnerably face your biggest fears. Fears will inevitably creep in. They’re part of your guiding system… an inner GPS instructing you on which way to go. (Including fears around being naked, admitting your mistakes, mourning your past, accepting your part in the previous breakups, getting sober, being financially secure, showing up as a parent and asking yourself… how you could change moving forward?) Dating after divorce and preparing for a new relationship isn’t easy and listening to your inner fears is part of the work that now needs to be done.
It’s time to get really clear about what your expectations are for dating and for relationships.
Your commiserating family and friends aren’t being honest with you because they too are too afraid to do the healing work required. They may not even know there’s personal growth work to be done. Did you?
Sure, some people create amazing relationships and second or third marriages after their breakup and divorces. Please God that you become one of them. But, I can almost guarantee that one person in those relationships is rooted in a spiritual practice. They know how to forgive and to hold others’ stuff in a big perspective. They’ve done their work. They’ve shown up for themselves and are capable of showing up for another.
Questions and Fears to address:
Ask yourself, are you still on it? Angry? Hostile? Mean-spirited and unforgiving towards your Ex, the way they’re parenting, the way they feed your kids, care for them; the way they respond to your emails or exchange the kids?
Are you still in love with your Ex? Do you still envision having sex with them? Are they still flirting and manipulating you? Are you able to walk away with your head held high, out from under the grip of their sexual foreplay?
Have you let go of the righteous indignation? The need to prove you’re worthy. The hustling and spinning of anxiety and the tension of fear?
Are you moving toward trust and faith believing you’re being protected, provided for and inflow for your greatest good? Which sometimes looks like going back to work, asking for a raise, setting boundaries, and simply up-leveling your relationships?
Have you forgiven the person you had to be during your breakup, separation, and divorce? Are you ready to stop the lying and storytelling? Have you become honest instead of righteously expecting that because you’ve been hurt, other people need to put up with your brittleness and impatience?
When you decide that you’re worthy of love and relationship,
when you’re willing to vulnerably admit your mistakes,
learn from them and admit to another that you’re capable of putting them first, then you’re ready to fall for the love of your life and
prevent a future divorce.
One of the reasons why divorcees go through second and third divorces isn’t because they like the experience of heartbreak, it’s because they’re unaware of the monumental and life-affirming changes that divorce gives each person. We do this as a modern-day rite of passage… a thing we do to grow!
Divorce is NEVER about the other person. It is always about you and your personal growth here on this planet. It is never about blame and shame. It’s about honesty and self-worth, it’s about ownership and creativity.
If you’re tired of making the same mistakes in love, you have to ask yourself… when was the last time you loved the person you’re being in the world? When was the last time you sat with yourself and allowed yourself to feel your feelings instead of drowning them in work, porn, alcohol, cigarettes or sex? When was the last time you said thank you for the pain you’ve experienced and taken a good hard look at how you’re going about your life?
This stages of dating aren’t for the faint of heart. But neither is loving another human being. No one wants a fair-weather lover or spouse. We all want to be cherished and adored, wanted and respected. Why is it up to someone else to do the healing work but not you? What makes you think you can avoid the heavy lifting?
Dating requires trust and a sense of adventure.
You need to know who you are and what kind of things bring you joy and pleasure. Waking up next to someone you can trust with your heart means way more than the last orgasm you shared, the size of their waist or the amount of money they have in their bank accounts. Character counts. And being with someone who can be his or her word makes things go so much more easily. You’re allowed to say “no” and to expect to be treated honestly. You don’t have to sleep with someone on date #1, #2 or even #3; nor do you have to put up with any amount of disrespect or ungratefulness. Monogamy means monogamy if that’s your agreement… period.
Without some level of personal effort on your part, none of these things come naturally or automatically. You need to expect to be You need to believe your self-worth matters and that belief is solely up to you. But you’re also worthy of being adored, admired, respected and appreciated and that requires you to pick wisely not out of habit. This takes time. Sometimes a lifetime of work.
What is the rush?
As Valentine’s Day approaches and you’re fixated on one particular person, consider the questions I’ve posed above. I want you to have the love of your life. I wish for you a man or woman of character - the one who will hold your heart safely in their hands. You are worthy of the respect you crave and the protection you need. This isn’t easily achieved on your own. It takes courage to be seen and heard. If you need help, reach out… doingDivorce™ School is designed just for you.
Laura Bonarrigo is a Certified Life Coach and a Certified Divorce Coach at laurabonarrigo.com. Laura's a writer, public speaker and the founder of doingDivorce School an online coaching program for those ready to shed the pain of divorce. For empowering and practical ways to lose the identity of your past, visit www.doingDivorceSchool.com and laurabonarrigo.com.