In the two years since my ex and I said goodbye, I have not done as much dating as I thought I would but I certainly have learned a lot about relationships and love.
In fact, I have had so much time with myself that it is starting to feel normal and the idea of being in a couple seems, well, not a reality.
You can say that's a bad thing. And perhaps it is. Perhaps it is a real voluntary admission that I don't believe love exists for everyone.
You can say that's a good thing. Perhaps it is. Learning to be with yourself and getting comfortable with "aloneness" is a valuable life lesson. The fact is you could marry the love of your life, be together for a lifetime and then suddenly lose that person only to live out your last years alone.
There is no predictable future. Marriage vows fool us ( I think) into believing that love lasts forever simply because you put it down on a piece of paper and added a pretty ring to it.
It doesn't work that way.
I have learned that love & commitment...divorce & marriage require so many things. And when you decide to divorce, there are things you need to be prepared for and look for as you enter into the dating world again.
1- You May End Up Alone
You may never remarry or find someone.
I know that sounds damning but it's not meant to sound that way. It's reality. You may not meet someone.
Don't get a divorce with the goal of finding someone new. Get a divorce because you cannot happily stay in the marriage you are currently in.
Leave to find happiness. Not to find #2 because #2 may not come along for quite some time, or at all.
2- Always Be With Someone Who Lets You Eat Cake
The right man or woman will let you eat cake. Lots of it.
I went out with someone, a very great and kind person, who seeing me struggle to decide on dessert, (really, is it fair to choose between chocolate mousse and cheesecake? I don't think so) let me order both.
It wasn't about the cake really. It's not that I am suggesting you should date someone who allows you to become diabetic.
It's that that person cared about me enough and knew me well enough to know that not only would I not be able to make a happy decision (both cakes are justifiable!) but also that he wanted to make me happy.
Be with someone who understands when you need cake. Be with someone who understands what you are thinking and what you struggle with.
Be with someone who so very much, wants to make you happy.
And enjoy your cake.
I have to say, both cakes were amazing and I am glad I didn't have to choose.
I am glad the person I went out with didn't force me to.
3- Marriage Doesn't Guarantee Forever
Vows and legal ties does not guarantee forever love. It can die at any point.
To have forever? Well, I don't know if forever is all that common anymore. It seems that instead, love comes in shifts and phases for most people. Stages.
But to land a forever love, I think you have to find someone who shares your values and life goals and then that person has to commit to growing as an individual while you do as well.
A forever love is work. Not hard labor, but meticulous pruning and weeding of the thorns and plagues that storm your marital garden.
4- That Love is Rare
Maybe other people found love quickly after divorce. I have not. I have found that it's rare and rather, an endangered species.
That dating apps and social media has made it into a five week commodity, and dating can feel like real work.
That dating to find someone is the wrong idea. That dating to learn about yourself and have experiences is the best idea.
You may go out with fifty people before you find someone that doesn't resemble a frog or a warty witch.
Maybe even longer.
5- That People Are Afraid
That after divorce, a lot of people venture into dating, scared and vulnerable. That people come carrying heavy loads of baggage. That you may come with your own baggage.
That in general, people are afraid of history repeating.
6- Be With Someone Who Listens
I had a date with someone who managed to remember things about me I had told them weeks ago.
Things I had forgotten.
Things he had not forgotten because he cared.
Be with someone who listens and remembers.
When people care, they remember and they listen.
This particular date had much to offer as a person because he listened so well and remembered so much, especially the things that he felt were important to me.
You know what?
He was right. They were important.
7- Get Comfortable Being Alone
If you have done the right work on yourself after divorce, it may take some time and it may never happen.
Get comfortable with who you are.
8- There Are No Rules in Divorce
There are no rules in divorce. Everyone grieves and moves forward differently. Don't compare yourself to anyone else. It will never look the same. I have yet to find someone with the same journey as I am on, after divorce.