Many divorced women worry about the same thing: if they start dating, they’ll fall into old patterns and ultimately choose the wrong man all over again. After all, isn’t there some truth to the saying, “Wherever you go, there you are”?
But when you come out on the other side of a divorce, in some important ways, you aren’t the same woman you were before you got married. The good and bad experiences of that marriage have shaped you. And believe it or not — in spite of the pain you’ve been through — these changes can turn out to be a good thing.
Because, depending on how you decide to pick up the pieces of your life and move forward, you might actually end up making smarter choices with men than you did before you got married.
And it all starts with curiosity. That’s right. One of the best things you can do for yourself when you re-enter the world of singles is to be genuinely curious and keep asking good questions — especially of yourself.
Then don’t settle for anything but honest answers to those questions!
One of the first, most important things for you to be curious about is what you learned from your marriage about who you are, and who you want to be.
“What part did I play in the problems in our marriage, and what would I want to do differently with a new man?”
After a divorce, while you’re discovering more about who you are, and who you want to be, also get into the habit of asking for a “reality check” from trusted people in your life. In fact, consider finding a counselor to be one of those trusted people. The more accurate and balanced your self-knowledge is before you start dating again, the faster you’ll be able to recognize — and sidestep — potential love life mistakes you might have made in the past.
And when you start meeting and dating men, with all the nervousness and excitement that entails, remember to “step back” occasionally and be gently curious about the choices you’re making. Don’t be hard on yourself. Just wonder.
For instance, wonder occasionally if you’re staying open to meeting different types of men, or being drawn back to men who remind you of your ex. Do you have an overriding agenda to replace your ex as soon as possible? Are you going out with other men simply to get even with your ex? If so — and you’re stuck in vindictive rebound mode — you’re much more likely to fall into old patterns and settle for the wrong man again.
Also ask yourself if you’re enjoying the process of meeting and dating men at all. If not, wonder about that, too! The harsh reality is that dating isn’t always fun. But sometimes, when dating is stressful or fatiguing to a newly-divorced woman, it’s because she really just needs some time to herself.
So please, take that time to yourself whenever you need it. And when you choose to step back into the dating scene, instead of worrying so much about the possible bad choices you’re making, keep gently wondering about them instead. That will take some of the pressure and nervousness out of dating again.
And I promise you. The calmer you are, the better you’ll be at avoiding the same mistakes with a new man.
Guest Author Dr. Annie Dennison, is a psychologist in private practice.