By Lindy Earl
I have been divorced for six years. I’m shocked that it’s been that long and that it’s gone so quickly. My children were teenagers when it happened. Now they are all in their 20s and have their own lives.
One thing that I have definitely learned on this journey is just how normal I am. In fact, we’re all normal. Now, we have differences, and that’s a good thing. But, what we go through, our feelings and our reactions, are incredibly similar and normal. I am now realizing that and that’s a good thing.
WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER!
Let’s begin at the beginning. One thing that we all have in common is a failed relationship. Now, if you’re still single or widowed, please understand that this does not pertain to you, but the column’s title is Life After Divorce, so please be patient.
So, we are living our lives, having failed at a pretty major part of our life. Ouch. The sad news is that, after a point, pretty much everyone we meet in the dating world is in the exact same situation. Even if they haven’t been married and divorced, at a certain point they still had failed relationships. So, we all have the commonality of failure. That’s okay.
Commonalities mean that others have gone through, even endured, the same things we have. Yes, some people were cheated on while others were the cheaters. Sometimes there was emotional abuse and sometimes it was physical. It was all horrible but you’re not the only person who lived through it. There are thousands of people who are proof that you can do this! Sometimes the paths just came to their natural conclusion, and that’s okay too.
That leads to another thing we probably have in common, although what word you choose may differ: Fear. Maybe wariness.
Accept it. After being in a failed relationship, it’s hard to trust again. So, we tend to build walls around ourselves, so that we won’t be hurt again. In the words of Paul Simon , “I’ve built walls, a fortress steep and mighty. That none may penetrate. I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain. It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.” Who, among us, has not related to these words?
So, we’re all afraid. We’re afraid of opening ourselves to a relationship because it may fail (again) and we’ll be hurt (again!).
This fear can lead, as Mr. Simon suggests, to choosing to avoid relationships, even friendships. But, how does that work in the long run? People tend to be social creatures. I made it three years before I began dating again, and wouldn’t have then if I hadn’t been encouraged by a good friend. Even so, three years later, I continue to hide behind walls.
So if you’re afraid, and the person you’re dating is afraid, that’s a lot of walls of fear. The commonality is that you’re both concerned about being hurt again. You can actually use that as a building block, rather than a wall. You can talk about what scares you, and why. Maybe this commonality will actually bring you closer to someone!
Depending on how long you were married, another aspect of Life After Divorce is that . . . dating changed while we were in our committed relationship. Back in the day, I knew how to meet men. In fact, I was often in situations with a plethora of single and eligible males. It was just how life worked. And I understood that going out to dinner meant exactly that . . . a meal with nice conversation and maybe a sweet kiss at the door. Thirty years later I return to dating and there’s a three date game (I will not call it a rule) which I consider absurd and refuse to play. People don’t meet like they did in the olden days but on websites. You don’t hear a person’s voice until you’ve messaged or texted half your story. None of this existed my first time around.
So, we’re all in this together, learning how to date again. Now, it’s much easier in some ways because we all have cars and the only curfews are self-imposed. Once upon a time, dinner and a movie were pretty standard fare. Now it’s coffee or a drink, depending on time of day and the parties involved. Instead of a few hours of great conversation that we used to get, it’s more like a job interview.
More proof that we are all in this together: we all have stories. Now, my theory is that the best part of a bad date is the hilarious story you get to tell afterwards. Yes, I really did go out with a guy who complained all evening about how women dislike short men (he is 5’7”, an inch taller than me), despite the fact that we had made it past the meet ‘n greet and were on a real date. My timing was bad when I finally commented on his whining just before the check came, and guess who paid for supper! Yep, the guy put it on me. I figured it was a small price to get away from him and when I tell the long version I can make it pretty funny.
So, at the end of the day, you are still alone. I’m still alone. Thousands of perfectly fabulous people are alone. And we are all seeking the same thing: a best friend, cohort in crime, lover, Significant Other, great listener, person to lean on who will have our backs just as we will have theirs.
So, even while we are alone, we are all together. We are THRILLED when we hear that one of our friends has found true love. We rejoice when we attend a wedding, so happy for the couple! We are together in our hope that one day . . . one day, it will be our turn.
That’s Life After Divorce.
Lindy is a Speaker, Columnist, Author, and Consultant.
* Contact her at Ask@LindySpeaks.com to submit a question for her Advice Column.
* Find her on Face Book and join the group, Single Again: From Devastation to Dating, on FB.
* Purchase her latest book, Surviving Holidays and Events After Divorce at
http://www.lindyspeaks.com/Products.html for $8.00 (half off Amazon’s price).