Second Time Around the Block

By: Skye Thomas

Divorce happens. I'm not going to debate the causes or the moral and ethical implications of that here. Even if you're the innocent one who stuck to your vows and got dumped anyway, you still have to pick yourself up and move on. So let's start from that place. At some point you will wrestle within yourself and within your spiritual and religious beliefs as to whether or not you will date again. This article is for those of you who have decided that yes, you are going to date again and maybe even get married again. You've decided to give love a second chance.

In order to improve your odds at succeeding, you need to consider your timing. If your goal is to find true love and to have a wonderful long-term relationship with someone, then for your new partner's sake you must have worked through your issues over the last one. You may be dying inside, feeling incredibly vulnerable, alone, and needy. That's the time when it's easiest to reach out clutching at the first person who comes along that looks like they might be a decent fit into your world. Those rebound relationships seldom work out. Even if through your pain and misery you did manage to pick the ideal mate for yourself, you are still going to have emotions around your old partner. The new partner has to endure watching you ache and hurt for a marriage that's over. If you truly loved your spouse, even if you're the one who asked for the divorce, then you're going to have feelings of remorse and a need to mourn what is dead and gone. Ideally, you wouldn't have married them in the first place if you didn't truly love them and you have to on some level have expected 'happily ever after.' Even if you stayed too long and had time to process through the emotions of wanting to leave, you still have a good chance of feeling like you've failed at something so incredibly important.

It can be excruciating to fall madly in love with someone and have to postpone the 'honeymoon' stage of the relationship because your new love is processing through all of this stuff and really isn't able to completely submerge themselves into the beauty of falling in love with you.

If you can't wait until after you've really healed from all of those little triggers and such that keep going off in your head and heart, then at least be honest with your new partner and let them know where you really are in the process. You owe them that much. Give your new partner the truth as to where you are mentally so they can make an informed decision about whether or not they want to enter into a full time one on one relationship with you at this moment in time. You don't have to be completely alone though either. Perhaps you could continue dating lightly as friends and they can be a wonderful source of inspiration and a great ego booster during your recovery. Then down the road when you've gotten yourself in a place where you can really open your eyes and your heart to completely focus on creating a new relationship, then you can make a commitment. I think the key here is being really clear with yourself as to where you are in the whole thing and also trusting your new partner enough to tell them the truth.

When you do get to that place that you are able to really focus on someone else and you're truly ready to fall in love, then there's some other things to consider. It's only natural that each of our relationships shapes us and effects who we become on some level. How many of us have little quirks that arose due to past loves? Perhaps you were with someone abusive and now every time someone even raises their voice during an argument, red flags start going off and you start panicking. Perhaps you worked your tail off day and night to financially support a high maintenance princess and now you shutter every time your new girlfriend talks about needing more money to pay the utilities. Perhaps your partner forced you into sexual acts that weren't in your best interest and now you have some hang ups in the bedroom. These are all very natural and normal reactions. We are adaptable creatures that typically learn from our mistakes and try to not repeat bad circumstances. So why wouldn't we be cautious in the future? I'm simply suggesting that you sit with these thoughts for a while and make sure that you are not being unfair to your new partner. Are you punishing them for things that your ex did to you? Are you living your life as though the new person is exactly the same as the old one? Are you unconsciously creating a self-fulfilling prophecy and forcing your new partner to play out a role that your spouse played? Just look at these things and be aware. It can really make the difference between repeating another bad marriage and having a successful second chance at love.

One last thought which is sort of the flip side to the one just mentioned. Sometimes we don't realize that we try to repeat the good things from our old relationship with the new partner. For example, taking them on the exact same romantic weekend and trying to relive the wonder of the first time with the first partner. Sometimes we don't realize that we make unfair comparisons, "Well my first wife always had my dinner on the table when I came home." "Well my first husband knew how to fix the car so that we didn't have to pay a mechanic to do it." Don't look to recreate the first marriage. Instead, remember that this is a unique and different relationship with a unique and different partner. Love them for who they are.

Copyright 2004, Skye Thomas, Tomorrow's Edge

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