The difficult road of divorce
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Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD posted:
Divorce isn't just the end of an official contract; it is a legal surgery that separates two people whose lives have been joined. Particularly after long marriages, it is painful and traumatic (though, admittedly, sometimes the painful separation actually takes place long before the actual divorce); and people need time to heal afterward.


Moving on in a healthy way — healing from the pain of divorce — requires that you feel the pain. Otherwise, you are just covering a wound that is likely to fester under the surface, demanding attention at some later time. So, it is important to allow yourself to feel the hurt, anger, sadness, or whatever other emotional distress that your divorce inflicts upon you. Then you can actively take steps forward toward a happier future.


People often need to rediscover themselves as an individual apart from their spouse. Being alone in a home can take some getting used to. Going alone to parties can be painful. And, it can take time to rediscover old interests (like going to the theater) or find that old self that was worn away from the unyielding flow of unhappy years.


At some point, you will likely want to date again. Hopefully, at this point, you will have a life filled with many things and people that you enjoy. If this is the case, while you may very much want an intimate relationship, you won't be desperate for a new partner to fill a deep, empty hole inside where there is nothing else that makes you happy — and which can be too much pressure for anyone. Also, if you know what you are looking for in a person (i.e. respectful partner, someone to go hiking with) and relationship (i.e. just fun, long term commitment), then you are more likely to find it; and feel fulfilled by it.


Knowing what you want is also very important when you have children. Not only will you have to navigate your own way through this new territory of divorce and dating, but your children will need help too. Consider your child's age and personality as you decide how to proceed. Consider how much you want him or her exposed to your dating life. You will probably want to shelter them a bit from your exploration, as each new date might unrealistically be seen as a possible threat (i.e. taking your attention, dashing hopes of reconciliation with your ex-spouse) or savior (i.e. joining the family to once again make it complete).


Whether or not you have children, though, the idea of dating can be foreboding. Where can you meet people? How can you go about this? While it's not easy, it's not impossible, either. Your attitude is critical. Being happy, hopeful, and open to meeting someone can help you. While I am not suggesting that you pretend to be something you are not, I am suggesting that your effort to be happy with your life is not just a reward in itself, but it might also attract someone worth dating. Because dating can be a bumpy road, a positive attitude can also help you to bounce along without feeling too bruised.


In addition to your attitude, here are some concrete suggestions for finding a partner:
  • Let people know that you are interested in dating; you might be surprised who can set you up with someone and who that someone might be (hopefully the partner of your dreams, though you must also be prepared for the date of your nightmares).
  • Join activities or clubs that interest you; then you will be happy with what you are doing whether or not you meet a special someone.
  • Find out about singles activities and try some out.
  • Try online dating services. There are many of them; just a few popular ones are as Match.com, eHarmony.com, perfectmatch.com, and Lavalife.com
All of this said, it can be extremely helpful to talk with others who have been through, or are going through, what you are. And I invite you to use this community — and this discussion thread — to share your story, to reach out for support or suggestions, and to connect with others so that you don't feel so alone.
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