By Karen McMahon
One of the most common fears I hear from men and women going through a divorce is that they will never find love again. Some go out immediately and begin dating and being intimate; others make attempts but are fearful of the dating process that has changed so much since their decades-old experience with it; and others still choose to moratorium on dating all together.
What’s the best approach? It differs for each of us, and the question more accurately, what is the motivation behind your choice?
I ended an abusive marriage with an addictive personality. I consciously choose to set a 12-month moratorium on dating. Why? I had lost myself in my marriage and knew that before I began meeting men, I wanted to understand what attracted me to my ex, to heal and grow and become reacquainted with myself. When we focus on our part in our broken relationship, we open the opportunity to change, to mature emotionally for the better. In doing so we guarantee that we will not meet the same person in different wrapping.
Some people rush out and begin dating and perhaps being sexually active. Again it is not the choice but the motivation behind the choice. The key is to be consciously aware of the ‘why’. You may have been starving for intimacy for years or decades and want to explore in your newfound freedom. Or you may be so very uncomfortable being alone that you ‘need’ someone to make you feel whole. Depending on your motivation, the same outward experience can be either enjoyable or painful.
Others will swear off the other dating altogether. Again, if you are doing so because you love your life and are enjoying all that being independent of a partner offers, that is fine. However, if you are avoiding the challenges that come with being in relationship, you may be doing yourself a disservice.
Dating and being in a relationship can be immensely valuable as it is only when we are IN relationship that we can work out our ‘issues’. Witnessing how we react to others…am I controlling, do insecurities arise, do I communicate my needs, am I recreating a pattern of codependence, etc enables us to witness, feel and choose how we want to be. A popular Seinfeld episode discussed being the ‘master of your own domain’. Being alone can be easy compared to being in relationship; there is no one to consider but you. Being alone does not provide the opportunity for us to grow in communication, compassion and cooperation.
A book I love to recommend is, “Conscious Loving: The Journey to Co-commitment”, by Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks. If you are thinking about dating or becoming seriously involved with someone, give yourself the gift of this book. They discuss the vital importance of being authentic. They brilliantly illustrate how we ‘replay’ the script that we learned from our parent’s relationship and unconsciously follow it, often at the demise of our relationship…all the time, blaming our partner! Until we become aware of our patterns and make a clear and conscious choice to change we are caught in a ‘drama’ that is predetermined or blueprinted on us from childhood. Most profoundly, they show how we find a partner that is the perfect puzzle piece to play the other role in the script.
The good news is that once we realize what we are doing, we can stop blaming the other person and begin to consciously choose who and how we want to be in relationship. What can grow out of this conscious approach is a healthy committed relationship, or more specifically a relationship of co-commitment; the treasure of a vibrant loving relationship with a healthy partner that can last a life-time.
Karen McMahon, Certified Relationship & Divorce Coach & Master Energy Practitioner. As the Founder of JourneyBeyondDivorce.com Karen has created a team of divorce coaches whose passion is to work with women facing relationship challenges or going through the divorce process. Her desire is to help you navigate the difficulties while focusing on personal growth and embracing the opportunities inherent in their changing circumstances.
A divorced mom with two teenagers, Karen helps moms look at their challenges from a different perspective opening the possibility that each struggle can be a gift for personal growth, a stronger relationship with your kids and a life lesson for both of you. With a healthy dose of humor and encouragement, Karen reminds us to of the value of grace and compassion as we voyage through single motherhood.