Dating After Divorce > Divorce Isn't the End

Divorce Isn't the End, It's Just the Beginning!
By Dr. Pepper Schwartz

Dr. Pepper Schwartz I recently was approached by a very nice woman of indeterminate age (let's call her Maggie, which isn't her real name). I think Maggie might have been in her late 40's, but who knows these days. Maggie told me she needed to start going out again after a heartbreaking divorce and subsequent relationship, which went sideways as well. However, she was scared of meeting people online. Maggie wanted my reassurances it was safe and there were people who'd be right to her. She was really in need of support. Having just gone out for the first time in years, Maggie said she was so nervous and upset she couldn't talk much, eat or didn't even remember what kind of food was put in front of her.

Here's what I told Maggie and it seemed to help. I hope it helps all of you who find yourself in this situation.

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Second: Lighten Up.

Maggie's afraid she won't meet Mr. Right. If this result is the goal for every single outing, you'll be exhausted! It's important to see going out as kind of like an 'anthropology' class. You are there to meet new people, learn new things about yourself and others, and have a good time. Of course, you want to find your life-long love. But, you can't have this goal as the expectation of every man or woman you meet. If this is the case, you'll feel depressed each time you meet someone perfectly nice, but not "The One". Turn it down a notch, and have a good time, even if the person isn't the one for you. If you don't, you're going to make this so much harder than it needs to be.

Third: Give It Time.

Maggie had lunch with a guy and she asked him how many times he'd gone out. He said, "…30…" and she fell apart, as if this made him some sort of Casanova. Maggie thought you should be able to find "The One" after only a few outings. In reality, often the special thing which happens between two people who're going to go the distance, takes a while to find. If you get discouraged after only meeting a couple of men or women, you won't stay long enough to find the person you are looking for.

Fourth: Believe in Yourself.

One of the big problems divorced people often have is they feel something is wrong with them. If they were the person leaving, they wonder if they're capable of a good relationship. If they were the person left, their ego is wounded and they feel they're unlikely to be wanted again. This is dangerous for two reasons. One, if you act like you aren't expecting to be seen as terrific, guess what? You're much more likely to be seen as not terrific. You should show confidence and pride in yourself. Second, you may be too overanxious for acceptance. This can cause you to want someone you shouldn't just because he or she is the first person to show interest in you. You need to shore up your ego before you make any emotional decisions or commitments. And, you need to feel good about yourself to enjoy going out. Divorce is not a judicial decision stating you're not worthy. It's just a legal end to a relationship. Too many people fall out of love with perfectly great people. Divorce doesn't mean you aren't relationship material. If you think it does, you're not ready to meet anyone just yet.

Fifth: No Grilling.

Don't interrogate everyone as if you were auditioning them for a spouse. You may want to be back in a relationship and get married again, as most people do who have been married. But, you have to go in slow increments to get to know someone first. If there's chemistry, enjoy it. However, I'd advise you to not put too much emotional information out there. Even someone who is very interested in you might back away if they feel you are trying to get remarried as soon as possible.

Sixth: No Marriage Conversations.

It doesn't matter if your previous marriage was good, bad, awful or headline material. You need to concentrate on the here and now, and the person who's taking time to be with you. Suppress the feeling to give too much information up front. You may show a side of yourself you didn't want exposed and might not be true. You might come off bitter, angry or cold hearted. This could drive someone great away. And, it probably won't be a true presentation of your character under most conditions.

So, I told Maggie she had to get out there. Get out there with confidence, but also a little self control and a certain amount of caution. Meeting online is a perfect place to re-enter the single world, and is the best place to begin the journey. Just make sure you're ready to take advantage of all these new opportunities. It can be wonderful. You simply need to remember your divorce is in the past. It doesn't define you. And, you need to be open to getting to know people and experiencing a number of reactions…from them, and from yourself. To find your real love, to realize the long-lasting relationship you want, utilize and go one step at a time. The steps may be slow, but they'll be remembered every anniversary!

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