Finding love again after divorce isn’t easy. You’ve got your own baggage to deal with, kids to raise or at least help through the process, and a pass to recover from or attempt to understand.
All divorces suck, even the good ones are awful in some way. When it’s a bad marriage followed by a bad divorce, you may walk away with a sense of “I’ll never go through that again.” For some people, that means they are careful in selecting their next partners. For others, they close themselves off to the possibility of love, desperate never to feel as bad as they did during their divorce. Eventually, most of us want someone to share our lives with.
When you finally decide that becoming a hermit with a dozen cats isn’t the life for you, and you think love might be an option for you, make sure you aren’t keeping yourself from finding the love you deserve.
1. Fear…of Everything
After a divorce, whether you wanted it or not, whether it was a “good” divorce or not, entering a new relationship is terrifying. You’ll question everything about yourself – your stomach rolls, cellulite, your laugh lines, age, hair, everything. It gets worse once you try to imagine getting naked with someone else for the first time.
Maybe your body doesn’t scare you. Sometimes the fear is simpler than that. You’re afraid of hurting again. You’re afraid of being cheated on, abused, lied to, or left. Whatever your ex did that made you leave or what he did as he left, you’re afraid of going through it again.
At some point, you have to let go of the fear. The hardest thing you may ever do is take a leap of faith in another human being. I kept my fiance (wedding date is October 2017!!) waiting for me to take that leap for six months. I dated and talked to other men. I was convinced this couldn’t be real. The day I realized I wanted it to be real, even if there was a chance I might be wrong, was the day I ignored my fears.
2. Trust Issues
Your ex cheated on you with a friend, a co-worker, a PTA mom. Maybe he was an asshole narcissist who made you feel two inches tall and questioned your value and worth as a parent, wife, and human being. He could be like mine, nice and sweet (but lazy and clueless) up until I said I wanted a divorce, and then he became physically and emotionally abusive to punish me. Maybe he’s said ugly things to the kids or walked away from them.
Not everyone has the ex from hell, but for those of us who do, we’re left with major trust issues. We build up walls around our heart, unwilling to let someone new in. We make them work for our time and affection. While I don’t disagree with that method (it worked for me), we close ourselves off to the possibility of finding love when we assume everyone we meet is like our ex.
Keep your radar up for similar behaviors and patterns. Your instinct will sometimes send up warning signals before you see a specific behavior. But don’t let mistrust rule your every decision. Automatically refusing to trust someone because they’re a man or because they could be like your ex without having a single conversation is how you miss out on love.
3. Body Issues and Vulnerability
I touched on body image issues earlier, but let’s talk about it in more detail. The first time I took my clothes off for a man I knew I loved (after a few fun flings), I cried. He wanted the lights on so he could see all of me. Everyone else had been fine with dark rooms or quickies with most of our clothes still on. This time, I couldn’t hide.
Our body image issues are less about our bodies and more about being vulnerable with another human being. I think our body image issues are about being seen for who we are. Enough of us know how to camouflage our bodies and present them in the best light. We choose hairstyles that complement certain “flaws” and hide others. We present a picture of how we want people to see us, believing if they could see us without makeup, without clothes, with messy hair that they would no longer want us.
That refusal to be vulnerable, to let the stomach roll show or put on a bathing suit or, yes, get naked, closes us off to love. If you find the man who treats you the way you’ve always wanted to be treated, doesn’t lie, keeps his word, and has integrity in all things, you may have found love. He already sees your size, the shape of your face, and the flaws you think you hide. To allow yourself to know love, you’re going to have to believe that you’re worthy of love regardless of your perceived flaws.
Finding love again after divorce isn’t easy. You’ve got your own baggage to deal with, kids to raise or at least help through the process, and a pass to recover from or attempt to understand. In the beginning, the last thing on your mind is love. When you start looking for companionship, a relationship, and the possibility of love again, make sure you’re not standing in your own way.