With divorce comes many transitions in life. And one of those changes is the dating scene. How do you feel about dating after being married to the same person for so long?
Angie’s Dating Story
I’ve only dated three men, and I married two of them. Before I met my first husband when I was 15 years old, I’d kissed a few boys and I’d dated one.
My first boyfriend and first kiss, was with a boy named Paul, whom I met at Six Flags the summer before my freshman year in high school. I developed a fast crush on him, and we dated for about 6 months, and then he broke up with me for an older woman (an 18 year old!), Connie.
My heart felt SO broken and I literally cried over blond, curly-haired Paul for months, not able to get out of my mind how he’d sung “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” by Chicago to me the first day I met him.
I met my first husband when I was a few months shy of 16 years old. He was quite a bit older than me, and I also fell hard for him. He was very charming and intelligent. We were together 12 years in total, until I met my husband, Steve.
Steve and I have been together 24 years. And though we have our differences at times, he is the love of my life. Steve makes me laugh everyday. He loves and adores me, and I feel the same about him.
So as you can tell, I have very little dating experience. I have been in relationship with someone steadily since I was 15 years old.
Though I don’t have much personal experience with dating, I have a lot of experience with relationships and how to navigate them, especially the one with ourselves, as well as coaching people in this area.
Should you Wait to Date after Getting Divorced?
Some say you shouldn’t jump into another relationship after a big breakup. The risk you run with dating another so soon after a divorce is that you’ll attract the same partner with a different name. The idea is that healing takes time, and you don’t want to attract the same unhealthy relationship patterns with another person.
This makes sense, but I don’t believe it’s a formula. It is specific to each person, and what is right for you isn’t necessarily right for another.
What was going on with you right before the divorce? Were you doing a bunch of healing work which may have resulted in a noticeable shift of energy (a/k/a a rift) between you and your spouse?
Energy Attracts Like Energy in Relationships
When we meet someone we’re attracted to, we always align energetically. Often that means our “pain body” meets theirs. Eckhart Tolle, spiritual director and thought leader, defines it like this in a 2010 Huffington Post article: “There is such a thing as old emotional pain living inside you. It is an accumulation of painful life experience that was not fully faced and accepted in the moment it arose.”
This doesn’t mean we have the same hobbies, interests or even values. It means our energy meets their energy or consciousness. We are all made of energy, and energy can constrict or it can expand.
When we’ve been through a difficult loss or trauma, our energy feels “smaller,” our nervous system’s ability to respond to life (our response-ability) is dampened.
As we grow in our consciousness, emotional maturity, abilility to take in life, our energy field expands. If our lover’s energy doesn’t expand at the same rate, it creates a feeling of disconnection and inability to relate to one another.
That is what happened with me. I had been doing a lot of inner work, in which I was examining my purpose, the meaning of life itself, my spirituality, and my relationship with God. It was this personal growth that caused me to question if my relationship with my husband at the time was good for me.
I no longer wanted to remain in the marriage due to patterns of self-betrayal that I exhibited while in the relationship (quitting my church, friends, etc.). We were no longer a good match, and I wanted something different for my life.
Steve was technically a “rebound” relationship, and yet it stuck. We have grown stronger over the years. This is why I don’t think one can say that all rebound relationships will fail. Steve and I are clearly evidence that they do work sometimes.
It’s important to note that I believe my current marriage with Steve works because we are both committed to perpetually doing deep healing work on ourselves. I wasn’t mature enough when I was married to my first husband to realize this.
The message is “Know thyself” so you can discern when you are ready to enter into another serious relationship. If you are confused about who you are and what you want, you can easily get with someone who isn’t right for you.
I hear women say how lonely they feel after their divorce. Their built-in travel partner and sharer of memories of their kids is gone. Their dream of growing older with this person is gone. It’s a grieving process. It makes sense even if it was you who wanted to leave the marriage.
If you just feel plain traumatized, anxious and desperate for connection, it’s always your choice how you want to get your connection need met, but here is a guideline to consider when it comes to getting it met in a healthy way.
7 Tips to Heal Divorce Loneliness and Get Your Connection Need Met In a Healthy Way
1) Deepen the connection with yourself. It’s easy to feel lonely when we feel disconnected from our self. Take some time alone to slow down, listen to calming, stirring music, journal what you’re feeling, breathe into the feelings. Listen to what you need to feel relief.
2) Deepen a connection with a friend you trust and like. Invite them over for a candlelight dinner, go for a walk, go to a painting class together, sit on the porch with them over a glass of tea/wine, or just call them, etc.
3) Get a massage. Physical touch is important and can give you a sense of feeling loved and nurtured, not to mention it’s so good for your physical health, circulation, etc.
4) Snuggle with your children (if they are willing—LOL) and/or pets. A sense of closeness and physical touch is comforting. You are human and it’s okay to give yourself permission to NEED something. It doesn’t make you weak or too “needy.”
5) Give someone a long hug—ask them if it’s OK if need be. Hugging is healthy for us. Do it heart to heart, and hold the embrace for a minute if possible. Even though this sounds very long, there are health benefits such as calming your nervous system.
6) Do a kind deed for someone hurting. I have read if you want to get rid of depression, do several kind acts daily for two weeks. It DOES feel good to give, and it gets you out of your own head and your own pain into your heart, where healing can begin.
7) Pray to a Higher Power, and ask for the willingness to surrender. “I don’t have all this figured out. Please give me the willingness and ability to trust Life and myself again.”
If you still feel lonely afterwards, do several of the above until you get relief. You are NOT alone. People want to help, as I do.
If you have kids, it’s even more important to take your time and not jump into dating as you want to protect them from developing attachment to people who don’t stick around, and from being in the presence of someone who is an unhealthy role model and who might even harm them.
There is so much to consider. Take things one day at a time, one hour at a time, one thing at a time. You don’t have to figure everything out right now.
If you need some extra support, register now for the upcoming, free class on Tuesday, 5/31/22 at 5pm Central Time, “Women’s Empowerment Through Divorce: Reclaiming Your Whole Self.”
To a Brighter Future,