A Reader Asks:
What advice do you have for divorced men and women venturing back into the dating field after significant time away? Between the incorporation of technology into meeting people and the pressure to make better choices this time around, it feels a little overwhelming.
Dating Coach Rachel Burham Responds:
Divorce is painful; it represents the destruction of dreams and aspirations. It leaves scars on you and your children. Just the strength needed to put all the broken pieces back together is tremendous, and taking time to mourn is crucial. Try to work through that challenging process before you begin dating in order to put your best self forward when beginning again. (If you feel the need to share horror stories from a previous marriage early on with your dates, you may not be ready to date yet.) We have to be willing to let go of the life we planned in order to create the life that is waiting for us.
It is going to be different this time around. I have been through too much pain. I deserve to find my “happily ever after” like everyone else. Have you ever found yourself thinking like this? Is this too much pressure for a second relationship? Of course, you want to find the right person, with all the qualities that were missing in the first relationship. Often, though, without trying, the list of specifications grows for a second marriage, as if the second marriage will in some way make up for all the years of pain of the first marriage and also be a home run in its own right. That is a lot of pressure to place on a dating partner and relationship.
Perhaps the most constructive mindset one can adopt is optimism. Positivity is contagious. I know how hard it could be for those balancing work, parenthood, dating, and a social life. It can be challenging to keep it together, let alone with a smile, but your ability to survive and thrive is dependent on it. It is obviously easier said than done, but we control our thoughts and actions. We attract people with the energy and vibe we put out.
It is important to be aware that dating hasn’t frozen in time while you were married. You cannot step into the dating world without preparing yourself for what has changed. You have also changed. Looking for the same person you did when you were in your 20s does not take into account the complexities of how you’ve grown, evolved, and changed through the process of marriage and divorce. Try to go into dating with a clear sense of who you are now and what that latest and greatest version of you is looking for in a partner.
Dating itself has also evolved. Singles’ events may not have been popular when you first dated. Skype and Facebook may not have been around. Online dating was likely not an option. Give these all a try. Don’t be scared to try something new and break out of your comfort zone.
Most importantly, remember that even the best marriages take work. That is the timeless truth of relationships. What’s important is to find someone to journey through life with. If we can find such a life partner, no matter how imperfect they are, we can build a solid relationship. And what two people can build together in their home, relationship, community, and world is boundless.
May you find that special person soon in the shortest distance to your longest relationship.
By Rachel Burnham