Life After Divorce . . . What Keeps Us From a Relationship?

Life After Divorce . . . What Keeps Us From a Relationship?

By Lindy Earl

WHY is it so hard to find our significant other? With so many people looking, it’s a simple math equation. If there are hundreds of people, in your own area, seeking a relationship, why are we not finding one another?

So Why is it so hard? Distance? Age? Backgrounds? Expectations? Baggage?

My experience is that people often don’t know what they want.  I have heard this story from so many people, both men and women.  Guys tell me that girls say they want a caring, sensitive man, yet there they are, a caring and sensitive man and nobody wants them.  Maybe women don’t know what they want.  And men say they want an equal partner, someone who is intelligent, etc., yet we see them opt for the younger, attractive shallow woman over the woman of substance and integrity. So it’s possible that people really don’t know what they are seeking.

In too many cases, building on my point above, people are too caught up on appearance.  While they want a healthy, fun, solid relationship, they want it to be with a person the world finds perfect.  So my friends in wheelchairs (I have several), my friends who are overweight or undertall (I have several), my friends who are over age (I have more than several), are all disqualified based on very superficial factors.  If people would get to know others based on personalities, commonalities, and hobbies versus physical appearance, there would be more matches.

In several cases they were simply too selfish (one admitted it outright) to have another person consistently in their life. I do not ever want to hear a person tell me, “It’s not you, it’s me.”  I already know that!  It’s definitely them – they are selfish.  They date, they get into relationships, then they realize they are too selfish to include another person in their life in a committed and significant way, so they play the “It’s me” card.  Do everyone a favor and remove yourself from the dating pool.  Stay home alone, because that’s inevitably what you want.  When you need occasional companionship, find a few pals who share your selfish streak.

Another reason I think it’s so hard to find a relationship is that people want to BE in the relationship without the work of getting into a relationship. Simple laziness.  Yes, we kiss a lot of frogs.  Some find the journey enjoyable, but others just want to snap their fingers and have a great relationship. Here’s a clue – if you won’t work to get into the relationship, you won’t work on the relationship after you’re there.  Think about it – people are on their best behavior during the dating dance.  If they are skipping out on working on this part of your relationship, it’s only going to go downhill once you commit.

Some people can’t get past their past. They bring negative experiences into a new opportunity and ruin any hopes of a strong, happy relationship. I’m guilty of this.  I’m very slow to get into a relationship. I’m always wary.  Like everyone else, I’ve been hurt.  A gent recently told me that he wasn’t the one who hurt me so I was wrong to assume he would.  He was right.  It didn’t work out between us, but at least I grew from the experience.

On-line dating has to take some of the blame.  While dating sites were created to make the process easier, I think it can actually harm the process, thus making it more difficult to find our significant other.  Part of the joy of dating is getting to know the other person.  If we’re given a profile of likes, dislikes, religious preferences, work history, etc. then where is the exploration?  In some cases you’re starting on date five, and that’s not as fun.  The excitement of following your path is the getting to know one another.  Jumping forward with a cheat sheet robs you of the joy of discovery.  It’s so fun when you realize you share the same favorite ice cream flavor.

I have seen people say straight out that long-distance relationships don’t work.  I happen to agree with them, but it’s a personal choice.  I think you can make anything work, if you’re willing to work at it.  For some, distance may be an advantage.  Maybe two people are busy with work during the week, and both really desire a weekend relationship.  If these two people can find one another, then the relationship can be a fabulous success.

Is age more than a number? In my case, yes.  I learned a long time ago that I can date men older than me, but not too much younger.  When I am talked into a date with a younger man, I find we are not a fit.  It may not be the age, but there’s something that keeps us from clicking.  While age may be a number, it may be part of your baggage.  If it’s an issue for you, acknowledge it and make kind decisions, accompanied by good communication, to not date beyond age barriers you set.

Our backgrounds change every year, as we add more to them.  Dating when younger simply means a shorter background, thus less baggage.  Every good and bad experience will affect us, as much as we allow it.  The good news is that we can choose to not let our backgrounds affect us in future relationships.

I do think unreasonable expectations affect our search. Now we obviously do not intend for our expectations to be unreasonable.  I know that.  Still, life is different dating at this age. When you were dating in your teens and 20’s, there weren’t grown children in the mix.  While I do believe the spouse needs to be number one, that doesn’t happen immediately.  Children will be part of your future, both yours and theirs.  You can’t expect them to drop everything for you.  Holidays will be different than what you’re used to. Don’t have unreasonable expectations that things will be as they used to be.  In fact, drop all your expectations.  Plan on creating new experiences with an open mind.

Finally, I think sometimes we are fishing in the wrong pond.  Explore yourself, and your hobbies, and you may meet your soulmate.  If you’re fishing for a whale, then don’t throw out bait that will attract a minnow.  And if you’re looking for a bear, then get into the country, don’t look in the city.  Go where the significant other you want might be.

Yes, for some reason it is hard to find our perfect person.  Even after seeing everything in black and white above, it still eludes me.  There are so many of us searching.  Most of us are good, honest people.  Yes, we’ve been hurt, but we are persevering and willing to risk our hearts again.  I think if we can establish what we truly want, acknowledge what is and isn’t important to us, and seek openly with great communication, our successful relationship can come that much sooner.

That’s Life After Divorce.

                Lindy is a Speaker, Columnist, Author, and Consultant.  Contact her at or find her on Face Book.