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Posts Tagged ‘Divorced & dating’

I find myself in an interesting situation where some close friends are going through a divorce or are considering a divorce.  Since both of these friends are men, it provides a different perspective on my divorce.

I should first say that I consider my divorce the most painful gift I have ever received.  Though I never thought we would get divorced, it was a blessing in disguise.  I don’t regret the marriage – we had a ton of great times and good memories.  In hindsight, we should have remained friends, but …

The way my marriage dissolved was a shock, and to be honest, there were a ton of questions I had that remained unanswered.  I’ve moved on with my life and those questions are no longer important, but seeing my two male friends consider divorce provides some answers.

I don’t believe a mid-life crisis is responsible for all divorces and I think “mid-life crisis” is misleading.  I think it’s more of an identity crisis and isn’t limited to any set age.  I think most people can relate to being in a position where they wonder who they are and what they are doing with life.  We think back on choices we could have made and how our lives might be different.  Too often we think back and create a different future where our life is better than it currently is, but there’s always the possibility it could be darker.

Both of my friends are in an identity crisis where they are wondering if this is the life they want and if they could be happier.  (It’s not like they are mildly unhappy, both have expressed a lot of unhappiness and frustration with their lives.)  Listening to their thoughts and complaints, I can empathize with the situation their wives are in, but I can also project some of what they are saying back on my ex.  (I’m not saying this excuses bad behavior because it doesn’t – it just allows me to see a new perspective.)

One think I know for sure is that the end of a relationship or marriage will not kill you.  It might break your heart and hurt like hell, but you survive through it – and often you find yourself happier afterward.

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Ever felt strong emotions or a strong attachment to someone you probably shouldn’t?  I’m there.

I’m inexplicably drawn to a man who stirs up emotions I have never felt before.  It sounds wonderful until I say that he is not emotionally available.  I think sometimes he wants to be, but then other times I think it’s a game of cat and mouse that he likes to plays.

It’s the worst game of back and forth with poor communication mixed in.  Riding this ride is a natural wreck for me.  It triggers
feelings of not being good enough and wondering what I did wrong – only I know I didn’t do anything wrong.

I’m not sure how to get this guy out of my head, out of my heart and out of my system.  There’s always this small nagging pull.  It’s even worse when he randomly reaches out.  I can logically tell myself that his random texts asking how I am doing have no substance, but they are enough to cloudy my mind.

So it’s even more important for me to remind myself of my basic must-haves and that a loving relationship should be just that … loving.

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I’ve been emotionally unavailable. I thought I was in a position where I could open up and love a potential life partner, but I wasn’t. I was able to develop deep feelings and perhaps love that person, but I wasn’t able to open up and let go of my defenses. I think I just might be ready now.

I can’t blame the guys I was dating for the relationships not working out – many shouldn’t have worked out! Some were amazing experiences I think I was supposed to have in life. Others were a testament to what I have learned since my divorce about myself … how early experiences shaped my thinking and behaviors; how family dynamics created learned dysfunction; how I created barriers that led to repeated experiences and how I have to take chances in order to live a fulfilling life.

I have the power in my life to create a healthy life with a healthy relationship. The first step is knowing I deserve it! The second step is allowing myself to take chances – emotional chances where I open up and don’t create an invisible safety net. I won’t lose myself in the people I date and I know I can survive if the relationship doesn’t work.

Now I need to make a decision; do I stay in the city I live in now or do I move elsewhere. I can’t open myself up to a relationship before I answer this question. I have a small network of incredible people I call friends and that will be difficult, not impossible, to recreate elsewhere.

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I’m finding myself in a sad place right now. As I have worked to learn new coping skills, I have also worked to purge negative relationships from my life. I haven’t let down my defenses, so I haven’t developed new healthier relationships. This leaves me in a state of loneliness.

I realize that my previous relationships were based upon being needed rather than wanted. This is the enabler role I learned as a child. Now that I don’t want to start a relationship off with a “need”, I am finding that I feel neither needed nor wanted. That’s a pretty lonely place to be in. Ironically, I rediscovered the tidbits below.

  • If there is one thing about which you are not in control, it’s who loves you, stays with you, gets ill, or leaves you.
  • When a heart is doing what it’s supposed to be doing, it holds nothing back. And sometimes it gets broken.
  • If our hearts are closed because we don’t want to suffer, they won’t be open enough to recognize the joy as it flies by.

My heart is broken, for a number of reasons, and I don’t quite know how to put it back together.

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I’m not sure why this thought hit me today, but I am glad it did. I realized that I would tell a friend to move on and end whatever relationship she was in if he/she were experiencing the same “dating woes” I am.

I’m a firm believer that if someone is interested in you they will make the time to see you. Lately, this belief has been over-shadowed by phone calls and text messages. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to see someone investing an effort to connect, but there should be a warning bell if that’s all there is. You have to spend time with a person to really get to know them and figure out if you are compatible.

If the person you are getting to know or seeing doesn’t value your time and doesn’t make opportunities to see you, he/she won’t in the future either. The getting-to-know-you phase and honeymoon phases are when people are on their best behaviors, so if your needs are met now they probably never will be.

It’s great to give people the benefit of doubt, but there is a cut-off point where you have to be real with yourself and realize hope is not going to turn into reality.

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This is a brief post where I rant about flakey behavior. I’m not a needy person and I’m not demanding either, but I do think you should treat people with respect and consideration. I get that things happen and “life” can get in the way sometimes. Sometimes plans have to be changed because you just can’t make them. It isn’t a big deal until there’s a strong recurring pattern of not showing up and making excuses.

I used to accept a string of excuses and explain away flakey behavior. (Notice the past tense there?) No more. We all deserve equal consideration. There is no one out there that is so great that their needs always trump everyone else’s.

So, to the self-absorbed, self-important, self-centered or those who are simply unaware, we’re not a match. I don’t want to waste my time waiting when I could be spending it laughing and making great memories with people I care about and who care about me.

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I’m trying to take stock of the dating lessons I have learned over the last year. I can honestly say I am not the same person I was 12 months ago. I have had a lot of positive personal growth and still have more to do. (Personal growth should never stop in my opinion.)

Consistency is a big lesson I have learned. For me consistency builds trust. When behavior and availability is consistent, I trust more and can open up more. Inconsistent behavior and availability makes me think a person is flakey and can’t be depended upon. I don’t go into jealous girlfriend mode and wonder about cheating or who the guy I am dating with is spending his time, but I do wonder about his interest and sincerity.

Not all consistency is good either. There were two guys who would always text late at night. With one it made sense because he worked evenings, but with the other it didn’t make much sense. Instead, I began to wonder about his actual motives and finally decided it was more physical than emotional. (I don’t think I am ready to get married tomorrow, but I know I am not interested in a purely sexual relationship.)

Making excuses is something I don’t always realize I am doing when I am doing it. My awareness is improving, but it remains a challenge. I tend to make excuses for the person I am dating. This ranges from instances when my feelings get hurt to when they are not responsive. My self-appreciation is increasing and I am starting to realize I deserve to be treated with consideration, respect and eventually love.

Passion isn’t an indicator of love or genuine interest. Again, there’s a difference between physical attraction and compatibility and an emotional connection. Just think of how many hook-ups are alcohol induced! These are mostly physical connections with no real depth to them.

I don’t think strong passion is something that is always present in a relationship. Attraction and passion ebbs with high and low periods. That’s where other elements kick-in that make you want to invest the effort to keep the relationship going. This is when it takes both people investing effort to keep the relationship going and alive.

A big lesson learned is that actions should match words. I’m included in this bucket too. If I review my past, there are definite times when I just went with the flow of a relationship because it was easier than breaking up or because I felt guilty. Wrong move! You can’t force emotions.

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