A friend of mine, Laurie, who’s been divorced for a number of years and has her annulment, recently began dating again and then suddenly just stopped. She started to get a little depressed and when I talked to her about it, she mentioned the things that were bothering her.
First, she said after the first two or three dates she went on, she realized dating was a totally different ball game than before she had gotten married. “Well, to start with, it wasn’t very fun!” she said. “I guess it was nice at first, but then he started talking about things like what he wanted in a serious relationship and sex… I’m not ready for that, yet.”
Understood, my friend. Dating should be fun as you get to know someone to see if you possibly might be meant for each other. But as we talked, Laurie discovered the real problem behind why dating wasn’t fun for her. “He asked me what I liked to do so he could plan our next date, and I froze. I couldn’t come up with one thing I liked to do and I felt ridiculous! It had been so long since I had done something for me, I just didn’t know what to say.”
Laurie is not alone in feeling this way. Men and women who get divorced, and certainly those who lose their spouses through death, have often spent many years focused on their families, catering to their spouses and raising their children. Frequently, the things they like to do have take a back seat to what is good for the rest of the family. Then, throw in a divorce and you can feel like you’ve totally lost yourself. You emerge on the other side of it all and now, the task at hand is to find yourself again.
If you’re ready to date, you might just take a step back before jumping in and see how much you know about yourself. How much of you has changed since before you were married? How much of you is exactly the same? Do you feel confident in who you are?
This is a great time to start spending quality time with yourself. It’s important to know yourself as completely as possible; what your likes and your dislikes are, what your list of things are that don’t sound that great but you’d be willing to try… all with the goal of being comfortable just being you.
I went through this exercise, myself, over a period of about a year and it was a huge breakthrough for me in how I chose the people I dated in the future. After doing things like taking a day trip to see sights I was interested in, having lunch or dinner at a restaurant on my own, and even taking 4 days to spend at the beach I began to feel extremely comfortable in my own skin. I went to the driving range to practice my slice a lot, went fruit picking and saw the movies I was interested in seeing. It helped boost my confidence because enjoying the time I spent wasn’t contingent upon someone else.
Eventually, as I began to date, having fun became easy and simple, as did seeing how well I fit with my date.
No one wants to go through another divorce so why not do all you can to make sure the next choice you make for a spouse is the absolute best one? Take time to know yourself and like yourself. And, if you’ve already done this, feel free to share your experience with us in the comments section. You can never have enough good experience to draw from.