Divorce isn’t fun. Whether it was your idea or your ex’s it’s a painful, time-consuming and often expensive process. However, one of the most difficult things about divorce can be learning to trust – and love – again.
If you’ve been married for a long time it can seem really odd to be in the dating phase of relationships again. Even if you weren’t the pain and difficulty of a divorce can cause you to do some very silly things that can cause additional pain to yourself and others. Here are some thoughts on how to open your heart after a divorce.
- Take Your Time. When my divorce finalized all I could think about was rushing back into the dating scene. I wanted to find someone to undo the pain that my ex-husband had caused me, someone who could reassure me that I was beautiful, desirable and loveable. Fortunately, a wise friend advised me to take time away from dating to really heal and find my center. I’m deeply glad I took her advice. I needed the time to realize who I was and that I was worth treating well. This allowed me to enter into a healthy relationship with a man who respected me, which was a far cry from my former marriage. In a similar way, taking time will help you remember who you are and what your true value is, allowing healthy future relationships.
- Don’t Compare. As a newly-single person, it can be easy to compare your life to others who seem to have it much easier than you do. You can find yourself becoming negative and badmouthing other relationships. A good friend of mine has a saying ‘the grass is always greener on the other side, but you don’t have to water it’. In other words, you don’t know the work that goes into other people’s relationships, and you certainly don’t know the dark side of what dirt there is under the surface. Don’t compare yourself or your relationships to others. Nothing good comes of it.
- Find Support. A support group, an online site like this one, or close friends in your area can be invaluable after a divorce. I leaned heavily on my family after my divorce, especially because the timing coincided with me graduating college and changing my social friendships. I also participated in my faith community and found a lot of support there. Wherever you are able to find the support, make sure that it is uplifting and positive. The type of support where you badmouth your ex or do nothing but complain about relationships will not help you heal or move forward.
- Ease Back Into Social Activities. Although some of your friends may want to take you out right after your divorce let them know if you need more time. Ease into the social scene – in particular you may want to start with activities that do not have a singles context. Go to a play, a concert, or a comedy show. Find a group that has an interest you enjoy, whether it’s knitting or fantasy football. Start to reconnect with people of both genders in neutral situations and move into dating when the time feels right.
A divorce is messy and painful. It can do a number on our self-esteem and our ability to relate with others. However, if you take your time, avoid comparisons, find support, and ease back into social activities you’ll be well on your way to opening your heart once again.
Author Bio: Steph Potter is a freelance writer, mother, and an active runner. After her first marriage ended, she meditated, spent time with supportive friends, and participated in online psychic readings by Psychic Source. She eventually moved on to have a loving second marriage that produced two happy, healthy children.