Post-divorce can leave you feeling unloved, unlovable, and terrified of trying to love again. Through examining my own weaknesses and faults in my failed marriage, I have discovered that love is an endless learning process.
8 Things Divorce Has Taught Me About Love
Time gives both healing and perspectives, opening my eyes to some of the greatest lessons about love that will help me succeed in my next relationship.
1. Each person defines love differently
How a person feels loved is based on one’s own needs and wants. However, these needs can be very different than your partner’s needs for love. I can’t assume my partner wants to be loved the same way I do. Assumptions are relationship killers. Loving my partner simply how I like to be loved may very well leave him feeling just the opposite.
Love means being open to express to my partner the things he can do and say that make me feel loved. At the same time I must keep an open mind to accepting the ways he likes to show me that he cares and listens to what actions and words from me make him feel loved in return.
2. I am loveable
Getting divorced left me feeling like I didn’t deserve to be loved and that there was something about me that made me unlovable. There is nothing wrong with me, and I am loveable. However, I needed to learn to love myself first by understanding my imperfections and forgiving myself for them.
Once I did, I could stop the negative talk in my head that made me feel less than I am. Knowing I am lovable gives me the confidence to accept love from someone else. (Note: This is still a work in progress for me)
3. I have to be willing to accept love from others
Being a people pleaser and a “give at all cost” type of person, it can be especially difficult to accept love from someone. I thought in doing so, I would appear selfish and needy. I have to remind myself how much joy I get from being able to express my love for someone else and tell myself that others want that same experience, too. Allow others to show their love for me fills me up, and I find I have even more love to give.
4. Some love is toxic
Not all love is healthy. I should not lose myself in the process of loving someone else. That type of love is not sustainable as it is based on being something I am not. Any love that comes with rules for maintaining it is a sign I am in a toxic love situation. I should never have to compromise all my own needs and wants to as a condition for him loving me back. Don’t make excuses to justify staying in this type of relationship, and don’t think love will fix it all. There is no fix for toxic love.
5. Miscommunication leads to unmet expectations in love
Love means saying sorry and meaning it. If my feelings are hurt by something he did or said, don’t assume it was intentional. Someone who loves me would not intentionally try to hurt me. Assume I misunderstood and let him know how I am feeling.
When I don’t communicate my expectations and rely on him to “love me enough” to know what I want and need, I am setting myself up for disappointment. Stop the games and sulking, and tell the person what my expectations are, instead of using it as some “test of love”. He can’t do the right thing if he doesn’t know what I want and needs.
6. Love is scary
The right love doesn’t protect me from being hurt. It is actually quite the opposite. Opening myself up to someone and sharing what makes me vulnerable is scary. This is especially hard if, like me, you have been betrayed and hurt before. I have to trust someone to accept me for my faults, to not hold it against me, to love me in spite of it all. Love is a risk, a risk of getting hurt or simply losing that person you love.
However, without taking the risk, I will never experience the joys and happiness that loving someone and being loved brings. Don’t let fears ruin the next relationship. Without opening up and risking again, the next relationship won’t even stand a chance. Focus on the rewards love brings and allow me to be close to someone else.
7. Love means letting him go
When you love someone, you want the best for them and want them to be happy and fulfilled. But sometimes, love isn’t enough to sustain the relationship. You both can love each other deeply, but life situations prove to be unbeatable obstacles to your being together. Love is wanting the one you love to find happiness and the life they want. As heartbreaking as it, loving someone sometimes means letting him go.
8. I am capable of loving someone more than I ever thought possible
When you have been hurt in love, you begin to doubt if you will be able to love again. I often wonder if I will ever feel that spark and “butterflies in the stomach” type of love for anyone ever again. Surprisingly I have found the more I have been hurt, the more deeply I love the next time. Why? Because each relationship that fails teaches me about myself. I learn what I want and need in a relationship.
I learned what I did wrong to cause the last relationship to fail, and I become a better potential partner for someone else. With this knowledge, I am drawn to guys who better fit my needs and wants, and I am a better partner because of what I have learned from my previous mistakes. I find myself able to love so much more, deeper and stronger love because I am smarter and better than I was before.