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8 Lessons for Post-Divorce Dating

Here are three things about my divorce; I didn't see it coming, it hurt worse than I could imagine and it changed the way I looked at the world - starting with myself.
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Here are three things about my divorce; I didn't see it coming, it hurt worse than I could imagine and it changed the way I looked at the world - starting with myself.

I've never felt I was delusional about who I was, but after we split up I began to see a therapist and got a clearer picture of how I operate. It was like finally seeing the owner's manual of me. Not all the red wires were going to other red wires, most weren't even grounded. I had no idea where some of my thoughts were coming from or why I thought they would be effective. There was clearly some operator error.

I come from a family of divorce - my Dad three times before I was sixteen. So when my marriage ended, it was the worst thing that could happen to me. But getting into therapy and learning more about who I really am and why I do some of the things I do, helped push me to grow up. It turned me into the best person I had ever been.

So if the "worst thing that could happen" made me "the best person I had ever been" maybe I didn't know what was good or bad and maybe labeling things instead of just accepting them might be a good idea. LESSON #1 - ACCEPT LIFE AS IT IS

Accepting where I was wasn't easy for me. I was embarrassed and lost. I was spending a lot of time thinking about "shoulda" and "woulda" - those words weren't my friends. They just lead me down a road that was either the past or the future, but wasn't reality. I needed to start living in today. LESSON #2 - LIVE IN TODAY

Today was okay. I had everything I needed. I just didn't have what I wanted. So I needed to change my attitude and start being grateful for the things I did have. A family that supported me, a job that paid me to travel, and even though I didn't ask for it, I now could have sex with someone new for the first time in eleven years - that did seem to have some appeal but that lead me to: LESSON #3 - ONLINE DATING SUCKS

At first it seemed fun. Browse all the profiles from the comfort on my chair, unshowered with a cup of coffee and hope. But it didn't take me long to see the holes in this system. Most just wanted to be pen pals and I didn't want to date my computer screen. The other thing about all the emails and texts: they're only words. We communicate ninety percent of what we say non-verbally, so when it's down to just words, I got no chance. LESSON #4 - ALWAYS MEET IN PERSON

And the ones I did meet - and I imagine it's a two way street - they weren't always thrilled with the real me either. But I have to say I always used real pictures and I usually don't eat with my fingers. I met one lady that truly was eighty pounds bigger than any of her photos. And that's okay, this America - there doesn't have to be truth in advertising. But when she waddled through her herd of cats (that she didn't mention) to answer the door, she was relieved, "Oh great, you look like your picture, most people don't." LESSON #5 - STOP INTERNET DATING

About that time I had a job offer from a company that seemed to really wanted me, but it wasn't quite my ideal gig and I was hoping to hear from a bigger opportunity that hadn't been in contact with me. I wanted to hold out for the bigger, better opportunity. I asked my buddy what he thought. He said "Go to where the love is." That got me to thinking about my relationships and how I "really thought and operated and I rarely choice to go to where the love is. I would choice someone I had to prove I was good enough for. Or someone I could rescue. Someone that would judge me or make feel like I wasn't enough, that's just old idea from childhood. But rarely, did I choose to go to where the love is. LESSON #6 - GO TO WHERE THE LOVE IS

One of my big mistakes, I learned from a fantastic woman. I got the cart ahead of the horse. I committed to her before I really knew her. Good example here: we've only been dating a month and she has a birthday. She turns thirty-five, she's a grown-up. I bring over her favorite cake, a small gift and card. But she is completely upset. Why? Not enough people called to wish her happy birthday. She's crying and crying and I realize, "Wow, she needs more than I can ever do. I'm right here and I'm not even acknowledged, but I said I would be here for her, so I'm here."

I had committed to her and I wasn't going to let new information about her change my mind. Even if it was important information and we had only been dating A MONTH - My thought, "I'm a good man and I'm here for you." I spent a couple of years trying but it didn't work. LESSON #7 - UNDER PROMISE AND OVER DELIVERY - NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.

Now, just like when I was in school, I don't always apply what I learn. But I'm getting better and the thing I think what really helps is knowing I'm not hurting someone else. I'm clearer about who I am and what I need and I don't have to spend time trying to change someone to meet my needs, I can just believe- LESSON #8 - IF I KEEP DOING THE RIGHT THING THE RIGHT THING WILL HAPPEN.