Thoughts

New Relationships: Waiting Before Dating After Divorce

Waiting Before Dating

You never thought you’d be separated and divorcing. But here you are, trying to muddle through, being overwhelmed logistics, changes and emotions. You have a never-ending list

● I’m worried about the kids.

● Where will I live?

● My finances have changed and I need to make some tough career and financial decisions.

● How will my friendships and in-law relationships be affected?

● I feel like I’m on an emotional roller coaster- sad, angry, scared, relieved, devastated, shocked….

● I don’t know who I am anymore.

● Will I ever meet anyone else?

Moving On Too Fast

With the uncertainty and fears of singlehood looming ahead, dating may seem appealing if it helps you regain your self-esteem, makes you feel attractive and wanted. Or you are simply lonely. Perhaps you don’t feel “complete” without a partner.

It can be tempting to self medicate loneliness, depression, and low self worth with a new love interest. Not too different from using alcohol or drugs to avoid unpleasant feelings or pain. The question is how can you contribute to a healthy, loving, accepting relationship when you aren’t whole.

Mend Yourself First

One of the most difficult tasks in navigating divorce is learning to heal yourself. True healing requires time to grieve your losses accept the lessons such a life altering event presents. Give yourself the time to acknowledge your feelings, assess your strengths and focus on areas to improve.

If you jump into a new relationship before you are ready, you run the risk of repeating patterns that harmed your marriage. In the early stages of separation or divorce, it’s difficult to recognize pattern because your focus is on survival. Anger, fear, and blame cloud the bigger picture. And forgiveness takes time and work. As you heal, you’ll get perspective on your part in problem areas of your marriage. You’ll make self care a priority and enjoy your individuality. Then you can move on to identifying you’d like to improve and what qualities are important to you in a partner.

Some of the benefits of taking time for yourself:

● PATIENCE/FAITH! Learn to sit with difficult feelings and learning that they will pass.

● CONFIDENCE! Learn to trust yourself and your gut. CONFIDENCE!

● LOVE! Develop a support system of family and friends who value and respect you. LOVE!

● EMPATHY! Spend time with others in a similar situation and are looking to grow. EMPATHY!

● SELF DISCOVERY AND ACCEPTANCE! Discover what you like and don’t like. SELF DISCOVERY AND ACCEPTANCE!

● AUTHENTICITY! Reconnect with your values and interests. AUTHENTICITY!

Aren’t these the qualities that create a lasting, healthy relationship? So look in the mirror, like who you see and give yourself the gift of your own friendship. Enjoy the journey of creating your authentic life, THEN consider who may lucky enough to share that life with you.

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By Deirdre Shaffer, MSW

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