Tuesday, 12 February 2013 13:43

Dating After Divorce: Learning How to Heal and Move Forward to Creating the Love You Want

By Meghan D. Lemery, LCSW-R | News
Dating After Divorce: Learning How to Heal and Move Forward to Creating the Love You Want

Much of my work is helping newly divorced individuals navigate their way through the end of a marriage and creating a new vision for a healthy relationship and life in general. There are certain patterns I have come to identify that all of us go through at the end of a significant relationship.

 

When we take the time to heal properly and set our sights on a healthy vision of love, the world is abundant with opportunities for lasting connection and partnership. When we skip the process of healing and learning from our past mistakes, we may find ourselves stuck in the muck of a repeated pattern of relationships filled with drama, confusion and the familiar baggage of the dysfunctional relationship we got out of.

Perhaps one of the biggest things I hear repeatedly when it comes to a couple surviving a breakup is the blame game. Too often we are quick to point the finger at the other person and list every fault and blemish they have. This blame somehow justifies us in the anger and pain we feel, and anger gives us far more power than dealing with the hurt and pain.

When we blame and use anger as a shield, we feel much more in control and empowered than allowing the deep roots of sadness to make their presence known through tears and difficult days.

The fact is, unresolved anger leads to a bitter, cold, mistrusting heart that has lost all faith in the power of connection and love. When left to simmer, this anger will eat away at our spirits and cause our bodies to be heavy with toxic thoughts and feelings. Have you ever been around someone whose anger is so palpable you can feel it in your own spirit? They wear their anger and bitterness like a coat of protection from ever feeling vulnerable again.

The first step in moving on from the anger phase of a divorce is to own it. Take a deep look within and be brutally honest with yourself about the part you played in the demise of the relationship. This process of owning it takes tremendous courage and when through it, you come out on the other side clearer and free. 

No one person can be responsible for ruining your life unless you give them the power to. Take back your power and be willing to admit where you missed the mark in the relationship. Once you know your part, be willing to share this with your former partner and let them know you too are responsible for contributing to the demise of the relationship.

This honesty and humility opens up the door to healing for both you and your partner. When someone is honest about their faults it allows the other partner to feel a sense of validation and respect. Be accountable for your actions and have the courage to admit where you could have done better. This step is the only step that will allow you to move forward and heal.

Without the proper guidance or counseling through a breakup, we move forward and begin to create the same pattern of dysfunction all over again. When you take the time to own your actions and recognize the allure of the dysfunction you participated in, you give yourself the insight you need to move on to healthier dynamics.

After a devastating breakup most of us want an immediate replacement for the pain we feel. It’s easy to find someone else to take away the pain and immerse ourselves in the excitement of the new relationship.

Resist the urge to pack your U-haul and create a new life with someone immediately. If you jump into something else right away, you fail to do the necessary healing that needs to take place before you can be emotionally available to have a relationship with someone new.

If you do decide to date, take your time, have fun and be honest with potential love interests about where you are in the process. Do not pretend to be available emotionally or physically if you are still in the mess of separation agreements, custody issues or a pending divorce. Do not make promises for commitment that you have no room to make in your life. Clean up your past before you plan your future. This will clear up any confusion or expectation that a potential partner has and help you maintain clear, healthy boundaries.

Another important point to explore before you begin the process of dating post-breakup is your core beliefs about relationships. A very important question to ask yourself is “What is my motive for dating?” The number one response I hear in my office is: “I don’t want to be alone.”

If fear is the motive that throws you out into the dating world, don’t do it!

You are automatically coming from a place of powerlessness and low self-esteem, which will only attract shallow, dramatic relationships into your life.

Some other core beliefs to examine are your beliefs about romantic relationships. Some common unhealthy core beliefs are the following:

•All men cheat

•All women are crazy

•Marriage is a death trap

•Never show vulnerability or you will get hurt

If any of these rings true for you, I assure you dating will only complicate your life further. When you date with these core beliefs operating, you attract what you believe. If you believe women are crazy then you will be a magnet for someone to slash your tires and boil a rabbit in your kitchen. Likewise, if you think all men cheat you will have your dance card full of charming Fabio’s who will prove you right every night of the week. 

We are unconsciously attracted to someone based on our core beliefs. Most of us don’t even know what we believe and you may be astonished to see how your negative core beliefs are hampering you from finding healthy love.

Examine your core beliefs, where they come from and be willing to do the work to pull them out from the roots and create a new set of beliefs that are healthy and more willing to bring you a lasting partnership.

If the core belief is to find a partner who will enhance your life in every way and inspire you to be a better person, you are ready to date and be emotionally available to another person.

Dating post-divorce can be overwhelming and anxiety provoking. Get some support, take your time and be willing to explore where you are in the process and where you want to be. You deserve to have a healthy loving relationship that enhances your life in every way!

Wishing you success in love today and every day!

 

Ms. Lemery is a psychotherapist practicing in Glens Falls and Saratoga Springs, N.Y. For more information, visit meghanlemery.com or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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