Whether you’ve already started dating after divorce, or you’re about to take the plunge, chances are good you’re going to be tempted to give in to three behaviors that will sabotage either your ability to move on from your marriage, or seriously reduce the chance you’ll find a wonderful new man. Here are three post-divorce dating dangers and how you can avoid them:
1. Thinking all guys are like your ex. Trusting a new man once you’ve been hurt by your ex-husband is difficult. Yet, if you don’t get rid of this distrust toward men it will destroy your chance of finding someone new. This distrust often shows up in online dating profiles when you say things like “no head games,” or “no dishonest men.” When you write those things in your profile, you’re broadcasting on a billboard that you’ve been hurt and that you’re distrustful.
You’ll scare away the men who have it together because they’ll recognize your distrust immediately. And most of the men who really do play head games or are dishonest haven’t admitted to themselves that they possess these massive flaws … this makes it likely that they aren’t going to stay away from you just because you ask them to in your profile. And when you do get into a relationship after divorce, even if the guy is faithful to you and is madly in love with you, you may not believe anything he says.
This can happen because in the back of your mind, you’ll have this ongoing chorus playing: “All men are just like my ex-husband. All men cheat. All men fall out of love and break up with you.” It plays like a country song accompanied by an out-of-tune guitar. Replace that chorus with something more melodious, something like: “I’m having a lot of fun getting to know my new man (or my date) and finding out what good qualities he has.” With each man you meet, you want to start with a clean slate.
Look at him as an individual. Notice all the ways your new man or date is different from your ex-husband. If you’re still having difficulties trusting men after divorce simply by using your logic, I have found one of the most effective ways to release your distrust is to use what’s called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which involves tapping on acupressure points. A good place to learn this technique is at The Rebuilding Your Life After Divorce Mountain Retreat
2. Getting involved in a rebound relationship. If you’re lonely after your divorce, it’s easy to get involved with someone new before you’re truly ready to move on. But how do you know whether that new relationship is the real thing or whether you’re simply on the rebound? First, ask yourself if the person you’re with has the qualities you’d want in a long-term partner. Do you have lots in common with this person? Or is the physical attraction blinding you to how wrong you really are for each other?
Another question to ask: Am I happy alone even without a man in my life? If the answer is yes, then you’re ready to get involved in a new relationship. But if the only reason you’re getting involved in a new relationship is because you can’t stand to be alone, then your new relationship may indeed be a rebound relationship. As you heal from your divorce and think about the lessons you learned from it, your new relationship can be transformed from a rebound relationship to a real relationship, as long as it’s based on more than just physical attraction.
3. Unintentionally holding onto baggage. None of us are blank sheets of paper. We have all been hurt in the past. The key is to find ways to release the baggage so it doesn’t get stuck inside of you. In fact, much of the time, you’re probably not even aware of your baggage.
It’s time to start having an internal dialogue with yourself. Did you spend enough time alone after your divorce to really think about what caused the collapse of your marriage? While your ex-husband likely played a part, did you have any destructive habits? Blame is one of the most common destructive habits I’ve seen in couples.
We want to blame our significant others for the way we feel. But our emotions have our nametags on them. We own them. Rather than telling our partners “You’re making me angry,” it’s much better to say, “When you did X, Y, or Z, I didn’t feel so good. I felt really uncomfortable.”
Whether it’s avoiding blame or any other relationship-sabotaging factors, is there anything you could do differently in a new relationship to stop it from going the way of your marriage? It’s only when you answer this question that you can say goodbye to your baggage and hello to a wonderful new relationship.