The turmoil of going through a divorce can change your perceptions; and can alter your feelings about relationships and expectations for your future. No one gets married with the intention of getting a divorce so you might find yourself ruminating about what went wrong. It may take time to heal and everyone has their own timetable for recovering from the multitude of losses associated with divorce. But with time, it’s normal and healthy to want to explore dating and new intimate relationships. The trick, when dating, is to be and stay a woman of high value.
When you are ready to date again, you might be excited – even optimistic – but also filled with fears. How you choose to deal with these fears is up to you. It’s an exciting time with all sorts of possibilities.
According to relationship expert, Lisa Firestone, Ph.D. “A new relationship is unchartered territory, and most of us have natural fears of the unknown. Letting ourselves fall in love means taking a real risk. We are placing a great amount of trust in another person, allowing that person to affect us, which makes us feel exposed and vulnerable. Our core defenses are challenged.”
Because of your past experience, you might approach relationships warily and come to expect the worst. It may seem at times as if you’re wired to recreate the past. However, with courage and persistence, you can learn to trust again and restore your faith in love.
Truth be told, many women tell me that they lose the essence of themselves in a marriage. For instance, Kelly was a people pleaser who spent a lot of energy trying to comfort and appease others – neglecting her own needs. As a result, she often put her own needs last. In the process, Kelly compromised too much and was left feeling like she had morphed into someone else.
It’s no wonder that Kelly was fearful of falling in love again and getting hurt after her divorce. But she was eager to start over and share her life with someone. It took her a few years to reclaim the joyous aspects of her life and to develop healthy relationships built on love, trust, and intimacy.
Author and dating expert Sandy Weiner advises: “It can be very challenging to date after your divorce. There are many potential obstacles to overcome, such as learning to trust, feeling good about yourself if you’ve been in a degrading relationship, and balancing work, kids, parents, and your own self-care. It’s a complex process and it takes time to heal after divorce.” It makes sense that experiencing the breakup of your marriage can intensify trust issues.
Learning to trust yourself and developing self-love is an inner journey which involves examining your past from a fresh perspective. If you can’t believe you are good enough, how can you believe a new partner would choose you? Take the time to examine how your relationships have played themselves out, and lessons you have learned from the experience. Try not to wallow in self-pity for too long. Joke. Laugh. Regaining your sense of humor can help you accept yourself and to transform your life after divorce.
Here are 12 ways to be and stay a woman of high value while dating:
- Don’t play the role of victim and begin to make decisions that reflect your strength as a woman. Give yourself permission to “think big” and want more.
- Practice self-compassion as you explore new relationships carefully. You don’t have to pick your next partner on the first date, so have fun and approach dating as a learning experience.
- Dating casually is a good idea post-divorce. If someone pushes you to make a commitment, they’re probably not the right person for you.
- Seek a partner who you feel comfortable with and is easy to be close to. In other words, you feel that you can be yourself and don’t have to walk on eggshells. Ask yourself: Do I feel safe in the relationship and free to express my thoughts, feelings, and desires openly without fear of rejection?
- Set an expectation of mutual respect. You can accept, admire, and respect each other for who you are. If you don’t have respect for your partner, it will eat away at chemistry until you have nothing left.
- Make sure your partner carves out time for you on a regular basis. A partner should make you a priority because they value your relationship. This includes regular text messages or phone calls to show that they’re thinking of you.
- Be more assertive in relationships. If you want to form a new relationship based on trust you need to speak up when something bothers you or you have a request. Dating can help you learn what your non-negotiable or deal breakers are.
- Don’t compromise your values. Figure out your core values and stand by them when you enter a new relationship. For instance, if your partner wants an open relationship and you don’t, it’s best to stop dating them.
- Notice if your partner keeps his/her agreements. Does he/she call when they say they’re going to? Do they take you out when they say they’re going to do so? When a person is interested in a relationship, they keep their agreements.
- Don’t settle for less than you deserve. Does your partner ask you questions about your hobbies, friends, and family? Don’t waste your time on a relationship that doesn’t bring out the best in you and allow you to be authentic.
- Pick a partner who makes plans to do things with you and includes you in his inner circle. If something special is going on in their life, do they invite you and encourage you to come along?
- Don’t have sex too soon or engage with a partner who makes you feel insecure. It’s important to get to know a potential partner before becoming intimate if you want to prevent being blindsided. A partner who truly cares about you is a boost to your self-esteem. He or she values you, gives you compliments, and encourages you to do things that are in your best interest. It may take a few months to determine if a new partner has these traits.
Dating can be exhilarating and fun as long as you approach it slowly and don’t compromise too much, too soon. If your new relationship causes you to be anxious or causes you to question your sense of self, it may not be the best relationship for you. Remind yourself that you can be happy and stand on your own two feet even if you are not in a romantic relationship.
Over time, you will get out from under the shadow of your ex and restore self-confidence. Believing in yourself is crucial to building relationships based on mutual respect, integrity, and honesty. You can’t alter your past, but you can make better choices today. Remember: You deserve the best that life has to offer!
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