By Amy Mahlum
My best friend from high school and I recently reconnected. I learned that she was going through a divorce and since I had been there, I have found myself a source of support for her. Her incredible need to move on, to not be alone, to replace the old with the new inspired me to take a look at my dating life after divorce and to share how dating was for me, after not doing it for over nine years.
Before any of us had a marriage to divorce from, chances are we kissed a lot of frogs before we found a prince. The fact that we find ourselves divorced proves that our former wasn't a prince at all, but an accidental tourist in our individual adventures. After all is said and done and you are left to either pick up pieces bitterly or find yourself choosing to start over, the thought of kissing anyone, even a frog, is frightening. It should be, especially if it's be a long time since you been kissing anyone. And let's face it, dating isn't what it used to be.
Before I started dating after I left my Former, I decided I was going to do things right. You see, I have always sucked at this whole relationship thing, which is why I found myself in the relationships I had been in and twenty-nine years old and twice divorced. I decided that it was time I began to know me. As cliche as it sounds, we lose the person we once were - whether it is through the dynamics of the relationship, the additional responsibilities placed on us and when we are hurt, disappointed, angry or sad, we have a whole new set of bags we carry around with us. Even if we leave and feel peace in our decisions, we need to learn to live life all over again.
In my case, I left. I was in an unstable and emotionally crippling marriage. There was control, abuse, punishment and manipulation. There were also three children and the guilt that came with splitting up their family. No matter how free I finally felt, I knew I need to find the girl I once was, introduce her to the woman I had become, and really start to love her. I journaled a lot. I made a list of things I knew to be true about myself. I found things I wanted to try, and I did them. I lost the 100 pounds I gained during my marriage, something encouraged by my former and made much easier when I ate to feel good. I learned to be able to be alone in a room by myself, and like who I was spending time with.
Then it was time to answer some difficult questions. What were my goals? What was I going to do to make them happen? Where did I want to be? What did I want to improve on? How did I get to this point in my life? What did I need to change to insure I didn't go there again? What did I value? What did I love?
Once I figured those things out and dug who I was and dug where I was in life, then I needed to decide what I was looking for in a relationship and a partner and what I would up with and what I wouldn't. My Irish loyalty always got in the way of that in the past and I knew that was as much of a flaw as it was a quality I liked about myself.
What did I want a relationship to be? What did I want to do on Sunday mornings? What did I respect? What boundaries were important to me? What would I do if those boundaries were not respected? Was financial security important to me? When would I introduce someone to my children? Did I want someone who already had kids? What qualities was I looking for in a partner? Did I want to simply date or did I want a relationship?
It wasn't until I could honestly answer all of these questions with conviction and I wasn't afraid of the possibility of being alone did I now that I was ready to date. I would learn things I never knew, discover things I wish I hadn't, and along the way finding real love in the most unexpected place for me.
During this look at dating after divorce, I am going to share with you** **the men that shared that time with me:
Dick, Not Richard
Already Committed Chris
San Juan John
Pulling Teeth Pete
And finally - the man that ended up becoming my fiance, and soon my husband,
I share these things not to humiliate the men that are at the heart of these stories, but in hopes that my journey back into dating may be something that someone else can relate to, particularly at a time that is bitter sweet and peppered with paradoxes of emotions.
I will also share what I have learned dating my 30's and how dating in your 30's is much different than any other time of your life and my perspective on marriage as I go into it for the third and last time, finally having the emotional maturity to understand what marriage means besides not having to be alone for the rest of your life.