I often wonder why so many people jump into serious relationships or get married quickly after a divorce. I hear about people who announce their engagement just weeks after their divorce was final and it's baffling. But, I think I figured out one of the biggest reasons people rush into relationships: fear of being alone after divorce.
Many people who get divorced are so used to being married, that being with someone is all they know. They've spent virtually no time alone in so long, that being with the wrong person is almost easier than being by themselves.
I can tell you firsthand that being alone after divorce is very scary, isolating, and lonely. It stinks, actually. But, once you learn how to be comfortable being alone after divorce, you get a gift: an empowering, independent feeling that brings reflection, peace, self-confidence, and self-love.
Here are my tips on how to be alone after a divorce:
1. Stop worrying about being alone: "Am I going to be alone when I'm 70?" I used to ask my sister that question, and I worried about being alone constantly. Then I realized, who cares?? I'm alone now. So what? I was alone before I was married, and I was fine with it. Time to get back into that mindset. Not to mention, if you have kids, you will never really be alone. And if you don't have kids, you will never be alone if you have family and friends who love you.
2. Get a hobby or develop yours more: When I was going through a divorce, my writing hobby became obsessive. Every time I felt sad or depressed or angry or scared, I wrote about it. I ended up writing 3 novels in 2 years. It was crazy! But, I view that as a good thing. Delve into something you love and you will be fulfilled and happy, and too focused to think about the fact that you are alone.
3. Try new things: I have mentioned her in other blogs, but I can't resist talking about a dear friend of mine who after 27 years of marriage found herself separated, her ex madly in love with the woman he left her for. My friend fell apart for awhile, and then she got it together. She has been to Spain, Israel, Italy, France and China, she's run a marathon and done all kinds of other cool things. She has so many loving friends and family, she can't even count them all. She's still single. And guess what? I asked her this very question. "Do you ever feel alone?" She replied, "Never."
4. Never say no to plans: Scenario: A guy asks you out that you are not attracted to, so you decline. This is wrong! What's wrong with having a new friend? It could lead to more friends, and maybe another guy. Plus, he might be interesting or smart, or he may teach you something. Go, go, go!! Also, "I'm too tired" should not be in your vocabulary! The thing is, you may not want to do something that you were invited to go do, but you will never meet anyone staying home, so get out of your house!
5. Start having people over: Buy a couple bottles of wine, some gourmet cheese and crackers, pick up the phone and invite some girls over. (For guys, make it beer and grill some burgers). You'd be surprised at how many people will be delighted to get your invitation. Then, after the first party, start cooking a little bit. Your parties will get more and more elaborate and more fun. Entertaining in your home can be really enjoyable and makes you feel hospitable! Hosts are happy people!
6. Do your job better: Remember the movie City Slickers? Billy Crystal hated his job, and he went on a trip at a cattle ranch to find himself. He ended up realizing he didn't need a new job, he would just do his job better. If you want to be happier in life, (and thus feel less alone) make a little more effort at the office. I'm not saying turn into a work horse, but there's nothing wrong with bettering your career at a time like this. It will become interesting to "get into it," and you may end up loving going to work. Then, you'll be too tired and focused to feel alone.
7. Learn how to be in your house alone: This was really hard for me to do. If you have an alone day, here are some things you can do. You can sit in a bathtub, watch a movie, read a good book in complete silence, cook for yourself, clean out a closet, garden, write in a journal, read the newspaper, cover to cover, call a girlfriend and be on the phone for hours, clean out your wardrobe. The list is endless. Enjoy it! Please don't drink alcohol alone. That's just not a good idea.
8. Go to the gym: When I was going through a divorce, I would call my sister crying (pretty much every other day) and she would say, "Go to the gym." Why? I'd ask. She would say, "Because you will feel better. Go directly to the gym now and call me when you are done." Going to the gym serves several purposes. 1. You are burning calories and being healthy. 2. You are not alone because there are other people around you, whether you are conversing with them or now. 3. You might run into someone you know. I've actually met so many wonderful people at my gym, who I socialize with outside the gym now. Nothing bad can come from going to the gym! If you absolutely don't feel like working out, just go there and walk on a treadmill. Anything! Trust me, the gym is a good place!
In closing, I think if people felt more comfortable being alone, and dealt with feelings of loneliness in a more productive fashion, the divorce rate of second marriages would be so much lower. In other words, people wouldn't rush into a bad situation to avoid being alone. They would take their time and find the right person, because the urgency to not be alone wouldn't exist.
Try it! There's a real sense of pride that goes along with being alone for awhile after divorce. If you enjoy your own company, others will too!
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of the blog, Divorced Girl Smiling. She is also the author of the comedic novel, FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE about life after divorce. Ms. Pilossoph is a weekly business features reporter for the Pioneer Press, with the monthly column, "Heart of the North Shore." She lives in Chicago with her two kids. And she's divorced (obviously.)