Are You Ready for Love?
Divorce is a Process
Don’t expect yourself to be ready to start a new relationship within weeks or months of your divorce. It is a process that can takes years. In their book, Rebuilding When Your Relationship Ends, Bruce Fisher and Robert Alberti identify fully 19 (!) stages in the process of rebuilding after a divorce. They know through their many years of research that it really does take time and conscious effort to be able to form healthy romantic relationships again.
By now, we are all familiar with this handy pain scale. Used to assess physical pain levels, this tool can also be used to gauge emotional pain. The emotional pain of the divorce can take many forms: grief, anger, shame, regret, loneliness and jealousy to name a few. What is your emotional pain number? Be honest with yourself. You should not be dating if the average of your perceived emotional pain number is over a 4. If you are crying or talking incessantly about your Ex on a first date, you are in the wrong place! It is time to take care of yourself first and to get your emotional ship in shape before attempting to forge new romantic relationships.
What is Your Relationship Story? What is Your Divorce Story?
tell your divorce story without your emotional pain scale skyrocketing to 10?
remember the good times with your Ex without sinking into a puddle of tears?
identify anything good that has come out of being in the marriage?
name anything positive you have learned about yourself or about life because of the divorce?
see the part you played in the unraveling of your relationship and forgive yourself for that?
even imagine ever forgiving your former partner?
imagine a happy life as a single person?
imagine happiness with a new partner?
When you are in the beginning stages of divorce, these may be lofty goals. Still, it is important to move in the direction of forgiveness and in the direction of new possibilities if you want to get on with your life, whether you choose to stay single or get re-partnered.
Caring For Yourself
Whether you know you are NOT ready for a new relationship or you believe that you are, you will need to take care of yourself. What does that look like for you? It is different for everyone. What do you enjoy doing? Do more of that! Decrease that which brings you down and create a forcefield of positivity around you so the challenges you are facing don’t wreak emotional havoc. Eat healthfully, exercise and reach out to others!
Getting Into a New Relationship
In the Rebuilding book, the authors emphasize avoiding rebound romantic relationships. Friends can really help your emotional growth. In contrast, a new romantic relationship – if entered into before doing the work on yourself – can divert you from the path of self-reliance and growth. It may be super tempting because of the fun and excitement of new love, but ultimately you will both end up hurt if you are not ready.
If you are ready to date again, there are TONS of resources out there. You can try online dating resources and apps. You can meet people through Meet-up groups and by venturing out on your own to enjoy a movie, meal or show. You can employ a matchmaker or date coach to help you. These folks are expert at helping you figure out if you are ready to get back into the dating scene and they will help you navigate the tricky waters of dating.
Don’t go it alone.
If you are in extreme emotional pain and there doesn’t seem to be any let-up, get professional counselling! There is no shame in getting help to get well. The shame would be in wasting any more time feeling terrible.
There is life after divorce. There is the possibility of loving again. You will survive this difficult time in your life. You are doing yourself a great service by choosing high quality legal services. Let your attorney stand up for you when you need it. Get the help you need to deal with difficult emotions. Work on feeling a little bit better each day and you will see the light!
Wishing you all the best on your journey!
-Dr. Kate Freiman-Fox