Life After Divorce . . . There Is No Instant Relationship

By Lindy Earl

In today’s world of instant coffee, instant mail, instant messages, instant everything, it’s no wonder we want instant relationships.  We’d also like instant weight loss, but that’s not happening either.  I guess the things worth having, a good relationship and a healthy body, are worth fighting for.

I am guilty of saying that I want to be in a relationship, I just don’t want to get into a relationship.  I like that comfortable zone where you know each other’s likes and dislikes. You know to never suggest McDonald’s if fast food is on the menu.  He’s never going to suggest a yellow top for you, ever.  He knows to not suggest a horror flick and you know his tolerance level for chick flicks.

Once upon a time, the learning, and the getting there, was the fun part.  Not so much anymore.  I’m tired of meet ‘n greets and first dates.  I’m tired of saying, “Thank you.  It’s nice to hear,” when, in truth, I’m tired of hearing it, whatever IT happens to be – my smile, my profile, my ass.  Yes, I hear it about my ass.  Really, guys?  You can’t find something else to discuss?  And, while we know these verbal dances are part of the requirements for building a relationship, and are very, very necessary, don’t we all grow tired of them?

At the same time, I don’t want to date a long-time friend, just because we already know one another well and these questions are answered.  They say friendship is the greatest basis for a relationship, but it’s hard to emerge from a friend zone into a really exciting, sexual, intimate, close relationship . . . at least in my experience.  And don’t we want it all in a relationship?

The truth, however, is that there is no instant relationship.  They all take at least three common ingredients:  time, communication, and effort.  Is anyone really willing to expend effort, knowing that relationships so often fail?

At my age, I’m dating men who have been divorced at least once, and they’re dating a divorced woman as well.  That means we’re all bringing baggage.  With every year of life our baggage increases. Some of that baggage is, logically, wariness.  I’m slow to give my heart to a guy.  I’m slow to believe the compliments.  I’m loathe to believe the promises.  No, he doesn’t mean to tell me a lie, but I have to wonder – how sincere is he (or she, in reverse)?

So, time . . . you can fast forward and have three dates in a single weekend.  It definitely jumpstarts a relationship.  But jump starting a car doesn’t fix the battery, it just kicks it into working, until it’s turned off and needs to be re-jumped . . . or replaced.  Ouch.  I think time is best left on its own.  Spend time together, but don’t limit yourself.  Continue to do what’s important to you, including seeing one another, but do not lose yourself in the relationship too soon.  I see this so often!

Two adults, whether they are in their 20’s or 50’s, truly enjoy one another’s company and start spending all their free time together – to the detriment of established friendships.  Sometimes it’s to the detriment of things that have to be done.  Bills still need to be written and housework still needs to be completed.  Yes, you can do those things together, but a little time apart is healthy. Take time to let your relationship grow naturally.

I know I’m all about communication, but it really is that important.  From the very beginning of any meeting, friendship, or relationship, it’s important to be yourself and communicate openly.  If you’re a morning person, don’t pretend to be a night owl just to get along.  It won’t work in the long run.  I doubt there are many deal breakers in and of themselves, but if you lie about anything – the lie is the deal killer.  Communicate what you like, dislike, hope, dream, fear.  These are great conversations for any two people, but essential for two people in a relationship. Communicate how you’re feeling so there’s never resentment, or if there is any pushback, you can run early.

Effort? Shouldn’t a relationship just flow?  No!  If two people really care for one another, shouldn’t it be easy? Not necessarily.  Effort needs to be made just to learn about one another.  If every conversation ends with only one person talking, then the other person may be making too much of an effort to get along.  If one person is doing all the calling, all the planning, all the paying, all the decision-making, then is it really a relationship?  A relationship takes two people, preferably two equal parties.

Relationships take work, whether they are with siblings or colleagues or significant others. We are talking about being a good listener despite being tired; letting someone else choose the activity and going along with a good attitude; learning one another’s love language and acting on it so the other will feel the caring and fondness.  When you put in the work, the joy comes effortlessly.

We’ve all heard that good things are worth working for, and waiting for.  That is more true of relationships than anything else in this world.

That’s Life After Divorce

Lindy is a Speaker, Columnist, Author, and Consultant. You can invite her to speak at your organization, event, church, or company at  Find and like her page on Face Book, and join her FB support group, Single Again: From Devastation to Dating.