Dating After Divorce: Know Who You Are First Without a New Partner
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By Lisa Schmidt, Guest Author - February 14, 2016

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One of the key things I promote to clients is to define what it is they want and to take inventory of their mindset, beliefs, and self-awareness. It is the very first homework I give them. In fact, it was homework that I myself completed not so long ago. Now that self-taught lesson has become an essential part of my coaching style and it helped me become a better dater.

Love Yourself Before Looking For New Love:

Like most women after a divorce, I jumped into a relationship right away. In retrospect, I should have taken
some time for myself, but I liked him and I decided to see where it went. It lasted 18 months and ended in him cheating on me. I was devastated by this and how he handled the breakup in the months that followed. It took me about two months to snap out of the coma I was in.

I was literally a hot mess and spent the summer drinking to mask the pain. I was brought back to life by a man that I met at a party toward the end of summer. We only dated briefly, but it was what I needed to get my breath back. It is now six years later and he is one of my closest male friends. After things ended with him, I went on a serial dating spree. I had more "first dates" than I could probably even recall. 

That lasted several months and I came out of it more determined about what I did and did not want in a relationship. The male species was getting the middle finger from me for quite some time before I missed having a connection with someone, and ventured back into the dating world. 

I admit that most men, even now, rarely get past a first date with me.  I have reached a point, whereby there’s a certain standard for the men I date. I do not have unrealistic standards, but I definitely know what I want. 

 If You Do Date, Find Balance:

So many women fear not being able to strike a balance with dating and family. "Do I introduce them to my kids? When do I do it?" The best thing to do for a solid amount of time is to leave your kids out of it; take your time to determine if this new relationship will even have the longevity and strength to meld your Brady Bunches together.  

Moreover, this is dating and it is supposed to be fun. Certainly you have real life responsibilities that you didn’t have in your twenties, but it is still a time of discovery and newness. Don’t ruin it with a lot of "what ifs" and throwing children into the mix.

Having a life of your own does not require the presence of a significant other. Kids can keep us busy with activities, but friends are the anchor to our sanity and well-being. Give yourself permission to have it all! Go on a weekend trip with your girlfriends. Take a class you’ve been curious about. Go to happy hour with co-workers. Go out and live life! Maybe by allowing some fun and adult activity into your life, you just might meet the next great love of your life.

Define What You Do And Don't Want In a Dating Partner:

Have you had yours yet and how has that changed your standards for the people you will date? Perhaps that ah-ha moment hasn’t come for you just yet - rest assured, you know or you will know when it does. It is an action, a word, a silence that really blows you off your feet. In that light bulb moment, your standards will change.  

Maybe you are like me and will need a serial dating spree to set you straight and maybe you will drag your feet for a while longer. In any case, you need to be open to the possibility that there is a person worthy of your heart out there. You need to believe that you will not dismiss that person when they present themselves to you. It is the dreaded leap of faith. That is some scary stuff right there, huh?

Don’t Be a Walnut. Be a Pistachio.

Do you know the difference between those two nuts? The walnut is sealed up so tight that it takes a tool to open. The pistachio comes to you slightly opened and it is far less work to get to what you want on the interior of its protective shell. So you see, we’re all nuts to some degree. It is merely a matter of which nut you want to be.  

Knowing when to open up your heart again is the hardest choice to make sometimes. There is always the fear of the unknown, but you will never know how brave you are if you never let anyone crack your shell. I am not saying that you will never be hurt or disappointed again by a relationship, I am saying that avoiding that perceived pain is a far worse fate.  

Know what kind of nut you attract as well. If you are constantly “cracking nuts” with all of your might, you might just need to rethink your relationship choices. The steps in building a relationship should flow easily. It should never start with heartache and that much effort. There should be a certain amount of playfulness and mystery in those first few months. Getting to know a person should be fun, exciting and exhilarating.

Define who you are first and let people in when they have earned it. Build a life that is a reflection of positivity and how you see yourself, and not how they see you.

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