A second chance at love after divorce is a pretty exciting thing! People begin dating after a major break-up for many reasons: some are lonely and feeling kind of desperate to be in a relationship again, some are ready to feel loved and admired again, and others are healed and ready to get on with life!
I find myself contemplating what a relationship can do to a person, their priorities, and general wellbeing after I talked with a friend last night as we sat in a theater waiting for our kids’ orchestra concert to begin. She described how her ex has dated a steady stream of women since their divorce. She doesn’t care that he’s “out there” meeting and dating people; but, she described his mindset as being like a hormone-fueled adolescent trying to play as much of the field as possible.
His life is his now, and she’s found contentment with a new husband. What bothers her is the fact that his romantic life seems to have taken precedence over their children. Case in point: he was nowhere to be seen in the audience at the concert because he was on a date! She lamented the fact that her son was growing up with Casanova as a relationship model, and that her daughter was learning early to take the shaft from the man she loves.
She and I talked about what it’s like when we first re-enter the dating scene after being married for years. Some of us divorce veterans refuse to get involved, at least not yet, for fear of being hurt again or because of our lifetime b.s. quota has already been filled during our marriage. It’s probably safe to say that most decide to roll the dice on love and see if there’s anyone out there for us.
Like her ex, we may find dating after divorce to be an all you can eat buffet of new people and experiences! Her ex had only ever had one serious girlfriend before they got married; so, he seems to be living out his teenage fantasies with the lady of-the-month club. What’s more, her own son pointed out the fact to her that “dad thinks having a girlfriend is everything, and it’s not.”
How wise even the youngest among us can be!
Let me repeat that so those in the back are sure to hear: having a girlfriend (or boyfriend) is NOT everything!
Is having a romantic partner nice? It sure can be! It can be all manner of fun, confidence-building, companionship, sex, or whatever else we’re looking for. It can also be massively frustrating to keep meeting the wrong people who we don’t really click well with; but, a new love can be exhilarating!
As her son has already learned, though, dating and landing a partner are only a small fraction of what matters in life. In this particular case, the avid dater in question is missing out on many important experiences with his kids and fulfilling his role as their father because he’s too busy trying to land the next woman in his life!
Yes, moms and dads need time to be themselves, pursue hobbies and have adult friends. Yes, moms and dads should take care of themselves and try to achieve personal happiness!
The trap we should all try to avoid is assuming that filling a romantic vacancy in our life will be the prescription for happiness and everything else good we want to happen!
We shouldn’t become so wrapped up in other people that we forget about who we are, who is already an important fixture in our life, and our own identity! No matter who we are, who we meet, or what occurs in life, we need to always remain firmly in control of and aware of who we are. I love that famous movie with the memorable “you complete me” quote as much as the next girl; but, I’m begging for people to start by being complete prior to jumping into relationships!
How many divorces could be prevented if people weren’t looking outside of themselves to make them whole, heal their wounds, give them purpose, and make them feel loved? A relationship with the right person is magical; but, I really think we’re living on borrowed time if we partner up like pieces of Swiss cheese, hoping that the piece we’re matched with has holes in different places than ours to cover up our weakness!
Of course, we all have strengths and weaknesses and things about ourselves we need to work on; but if we start a relationship broken, we can’t expect the other person to fix us or to absorb all of their strength to make ourselves complete! Why not try to be as with it and together as much as possible so that adding a person to our life is out of strength and joy rather than weakness and need?
If we’re a parent hitting the dating market, we can never let this week’s new fling come before our child’s once in a lifetime events. Perhaps the date du jour will still be around years from now, perhaps not. I would give a free pass to a parent now and then to miss a child’s event if something pretty important comes up. The best practice would be for us to represent our kids as much as possible; but, things do come up.
Our desperation to get lucky or score our next spouse shouldn’t be so obvious that even children know what our motivation is and what’s most important to us. Remember, actions speak louder than words and It’s all about balance!
I would encourage everyone considering going on their first- or 50th– date after divorce to consider what they hope to find? Is this week’s date the answer to our salvation and more important that our existing family, or will he or she possibly offer meaningful companionship? In some cases, we only get so many chances to get it right. While a hot date might be everything we want right now, our children are going to keep growing up, whether we’re there with them or not!