Dater beware! As if there weren’t enough obstacles and hidden hazards lurking in the dating field, those on the prowl for dates and relationships have one more challenge to take into consideration: the divorced candidate. Swipe left, swipe right, exchange digits, or whatever you do; but, make sure you’re prepared for the additional attributes of the previously married. Dating someone who has been through divorce need not be on your “don’t” list, because this population has a lot to offer, just go in with eyes wide open!
Here are five things you need to know before making that date:
1. Divorce = baggage. There’s no nice way to put it. Divorced people have been through the wringer of love. They’ve had their hearts broken, seen their dreams of forever dashed, and have good reason to be leery of repeating these bad memories with someone new. Who would want to endure another massive disappointment?
Divorced people who decide to give Cupid a second chance are brave! Don’t underestimate the level of respect due to one who has lost it all, yet is willing to give it another shot- with you!
Compassion and patience on your part is a necessity to understand that a potential partner who has been wounded may need his or her own baggage cart on which to haul around memories, fears, hang-ups, and lingering relationships with an ex and children from the marriage. Some of these memories are fond and may make them nostalgic for what used to be. Some reminders from the past could trigger shields to engage that make it more difficult to open up or attach to new partners.
The question for you is whether or not you have the patience and desire to help unpack this baggage?
Understand that not all issues from the past can be completely forgotten. Your relationship with a divorced person may, at times, feel haunted by the ghosts of the past. Is your skin thick enough to handle seeing or hearing all about the ex? Can you tolerate comparisons and moments when you might feel like your life takes a back seat to their issues? Are you willing to share your time with kids that are not yours? Are you willing to not be the first to celebrate major relationship milestones with your partner?
2. Practice makes perfect. Although a divorced person may be jaded or weighed down by their former marriage experience, lessons learned from a failed relationship may translate into a partner who is more aware of what they want and need in a relationship, as well as one who has had cause to reflect on their own shortcomings.
Your significant other may have made some major mistakes in their previous relationship; but, has had an opportunity handed up to reform their ways.
Does your date refer to the past with a sense of wisdom and maturity one gains through adversity and growth, or do they convey an attitude of denial about what happened or their potential role in the matter? Proceed with caution if your date is exceedingly angry or fixated on the past, excessively trashes their ex, and blames the entire divorce on others.
While it is true that one partner can torch a marriage all on their own, I would consider it somewhat suspicious if they don’t acknowledge anything they could have done better, and their account of the events is a stream of nasty comments or lacking in insight. It would be difficult to say that an individual has properly healed or become better through divorce if they exhibit bitterness, nonchalance, or can’t point to any improvements they’ve made internally.
3. Love is better the second time around. Imagine a bad experience, such as a house fire, and what it would be like to lose everything. Divorce is similar in that both former spouses endure having almost every aspect of their loves shaken to the core. Seemingly nothing about life after or during a divorce resembles what it was before. In many ways this may be positive, yet in many others it is devastating!
As in a fire that erases years of memories and one’s way of life, a divorce will force one to seriously take stock of what they do still have and what and who matter most. It will force one to consider what can be done in the future to prevent such an occurrence, and it will usually make its victims rearrange priorities.
If you have been through a divorce, the last thing you want to do is repeat that mistake! Therefore, a divorced person will be more selective about partners for serious relationships and more inclined to treasure the people they love and protect their heart and their future relationships.
If a divorced person chooses to open their heart to you and share their life with you, then know that they see something special in you worth making an investment in. All relationships require hard work and perseverance to succeed; however, if one knows what’s at stake, they are much more likely to put in the effort and defend it.
4. With experience comes understanding. If you have also been divorced or been through a bad break-up, a divorced partner will be more understanding and capable of identifying with your baggage and relationship hot buttons, than a non-divorced partner can. True, that two divorced partners equals double the baggage, but who else but another divorcee will be able to identify with what it’s like to break-up in a marriage, go through legal proceedings, miss children when with other parent, and so much more?
5. Some people aren’t relationship material. Let’s face it, not everyone you may choose to date has what it takes to be a good partner. Give the benefit of the doubt as you get to know people you date, but keep in mind that there is a chance that a divorced person might be in that relationship status for good reason. Some people just can’t be accountable, faithful, honest, giving, and many of the other qualities we seek in a partner.
Your relationship discovery process may reveal an immature, selfish, narcissistic, individual that you want to run from before becoming their next victim! Some with these qualities are skilled at saying and doing all of the right things to entrap their next relationship victim, so be complete in vetting all dates to make sure they’re in a good emotional place for a relationship and possess the traits you deserve in a significant other.
Give a divorced lover a chance because there are some wonderful catches in the “experienced sea!” Handle your divorced partner with extra TLC and understanding for what they’ve been through. A divorced partner is more complex and multi-layered, but contains a unique perspective and wisdom that may enrich your relationship, if you’re willing to give them a chance!