By Lindy Earl
You have heard all the trite sayings: “You need to get back on the bicycle after you fall off” (or horse, depending on whether you were raised in the country or suburbs. I guess city folk get back on the bus). You need to get back in the game, after an injury.
Well, it’s not as easy a few simple words. For one, you left the game because of an injury. You were hurt. There may be been blood or broken bones, or even worse, some damage that can’t be seen, such as a concussion. In the past-relationship world, it is at least equally hard to bounce back from injuries, especially the unseen ones, like emotional abuse.
Eventually, you realize that, life really is better with a partner, so you get back in the game. You learn, however, that the rules have changed. Depending on how long you have been out of it, you may be a little or a lot surprised by how things are done now.
Yes, meeting people organically, through work or friends, still happens, but rarely. Yes, bar scenes still exist. I’m not a bar girl. Dating sites are quite the rage now, and some people, like me, have to be dragged, kicking and screaming. Eventually you, like I, may capitulate. I wish now I had had a coach to teach me at least some of the rules.
This is what I’ve learned, and I share it with the hope of helping others. I believe much of what is here will work with any new endeavor, not just dating. Try being the new student or the new person at work. They can be equally daunting experiences.
- Create a good support system, before your first day. Have good friends who want your best, and are willing to tell you the truth even when you don’t want to hear it. I had some great friends, as I progressed, who truly helped me. For instance, Larry, who, after we realized we were not a match, told me that the guys who insist you go to them are looking for a hook up. Gentlemen set up dates on the lady’s home field.
If you don’t have a good support system, add the people you need and, equally important, delete the people who are not healthy and supportive of you. Yes, even family members need to be outside of your dating conversation if they are not rooting for you.
- Make intentional decisions. Decide that you will be happy again. Create a set of rules – age, gender, education, career, race – whatever is important to you; any distance requirements (it was again Larry who told me a guy will only travel 45 minutes for the first few dates, then the relationship dwindles due to distance. I found him to be correct.); and no sleeping together on the first date – yes, set it as a rule and obey it. Decide to date and take it seriously. Don’t get online and just wait for people to contact you. You need to be an active participant in your own life. Make things happen.
- See life as an adventure, and as such, try new things. If you’ve never been spontaneous, try it! If you’ve never been a planner, try it! Now is the time to visit places you’ve never been (either a day trip or a vacation; alone or with others), try sports you’ve never tried, and subject yourself to music and movies that are new to you. You may find you have interests you didn’t know about.
- You didn’t learn to walk the first time you tried. You fell, but you got up again. With time and practice, you learned to walk so well that you don’t even think about it. In addition, your muscles grew stronger. Flex your dating muscles by keeping at it. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and millions of people have been on millions of bad dates before they found their true love.
- Don’t settle. You, alone, is far better that being part of a bad couple.
Games aren’t always easy, and the sad thing is that, in most games, there is a winner and a loser. Maybe you can work it out so that, at the very least, everyone can tie . . . not necessarily tie the knot, but emerge as friends. If not, then at least emerge a little wiser and with fond memories.
Dating isn’t an easy game, but it’s one worth playing!
That’s Life After Divorce.
Lindy is a Speaker, Columnist, Author, and Consultant. Contact her at LMEarl@EarlMarketing.com or find her on Face Book.