Thursday, August 11, 2011

Love After Divorce: How Soon Is Too Soon?

By Nigel Lawson

The first lesson History 101 teaches us is history definitely repeats itself.  After a break up, some of us may be prone to getting back in the saddle too soon after the fall, and to make things worse, we get back on the wrong horse.  The fact is, we’re to blame for our repeated hardship.  Fortunately, we also have the power to stop this cycle.  Here are a few things to consider before hopping on that next horse.

Stop and think about your past behaviors.  Breakups and divorce have the capability of severely damaging our self esteem.  Some of us may experience extreme loneliness and a loss of identity.  These emotions might lead us to seek comfort in the first person we feel the slightest connection to.  We mistake this minor spark as the mighty lightning bolt of true love, and bang!  We’re off to the races.  If this sounds familiar, “Whoa Nelly!” It’s time to slow down!

Assess your sense of self.  It’s time to remember who you are and what makes you so special.  Often, we rely on others to build up our self-esteem and forget we have the power to do it ourselves.  I suggest making a list of 10 positive qualities you possess.  Next, write a second list of 3-4 goals you wish to accomplish within the next month.  Post these lists side by side in place where they are easily visible.  (I did this on a large whiteboard, hanging in my kitchen).

Encountering these lists daily (ideally each morning), reminds us of our sense of worth and focuses our attention on what is important in our lives.  Do one thing toward achieving one or more of your goals each day.  It doesn’t have to be major.  It could be something small.  The key is to understand that your positive qualities are the power you possess to accomplish your goals.  Soon you will find yourself checking off goals on a regular basis.  You’ll feel a sense of achievement, self-worth, and increase your self-esteem. 

When is the right time?  The right time to begin a serious relationship is a hard question to answer.  Pat Gaudette writes on the Friends and Lovers: The Relationships Guide website, 

“No matter how ready you think you are for a committed relationship, if you haven’t been legally divorced for at least a year, if you haven’t worked through the anger and despair of your divorce, if you haven’t worked through the emotional baggage you were handed when they walked out the door, you aren’t ready.”

I tend to agree.  We  must take the time to heal before entering a committed relationship.  She stresses that even if you haven’t worked out all of your emotional issues after being divorced over a year, you need not refrain from dating.  Honesty is the best policy.  She offers the following as a way to explain your unique situation:

 “I’m really not ready for a serious relationship as I’ve just recently been divorced. You seem like a very nice person and I’d really like to get to know you better, but I just thought it would be best to be upfront about where my head’s at right now.”

What Should You Expect in a New Partner?  Now that you’ve worked on revitalizing your inner self, remember not to settle for second best.  Expect as much out of a partner and a relationship as you are willing to put in.  Respect for one another is important in a lasting relationship.  Your personalities should complement each other.  A positive outlook when faced with life’s difficulties can only strengthen your bonds.  You don’t want a partner who is passive or runs away from challenges.   Your significant other should be willing to work with you through the hard times and see them as an opportunity for growth in your relationship.

These are just a few things to keep in mind before getting back in the relationship race.  Don’t jump the gun.  Take it slow.  When it comes to finding happiness in a relationship, you don’t need to finish in first place.  You just need to finish the race together. 

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