Do you ever get tired of reading the same old dating and relationship advice? Most advice seems geared to people who’ve never been in a marriage or long-term relationship.
What about the rest of us, with, well, “history”?
What about those of us who might be reentering the dating field after a divorce or long-term relationship ends? Doesn’t after-divorce dating come with a whole new set of rules? How long before it’s “safe” to start dating again? How much should I share about myself? Should I be honest about my past?
Maybe you’re not ready for a full-fledged relationship or even dating yet, but it can help to reflect on the knowledge and awareness you gained from your previous relationships, then find a way to reignite your social life. It may seem scary, but YOU CAN get out there, have some fun and feel alive again!
Getting Over the Guilt and Resentment
After a marriage ends, there’s often a great deal of self-reflection, guilt, sadness and introspection going on. You might feel like you aren’t sure how to connect with a new person on an emotional level. You might feel “out of the game.” Even if your last relationship wasn’t great (or was, in fact, pretty terrible), you may still be asking yourself a lot of emotionally-charged questions, like, “Why didn’t I get out sooner?” or “Did I do the right thing?” or “Will I ever find love again?”
You can take comfort in the knowledge that most relationships that end do so for a reason. Even if you have your reservations about the way it ended, let’s face it: no relationship ever ends because it’s just too wonderful to go on.
When a marriage ends, things can become tense and heated. It can be hard not to let negative comments and destructive words stick. Sometimes, that negativity can change the way we perceive ourselves and contribute to false or limiting beliefs. It’s important to keep in mind that even if things didn’t work out with one partner, you can still move on, move forward, and find your own bliss.
Even though you may be feeling raw and perhaps even vulnerable, the good news is…there are no rules. You don’t have to wait until you “feel comfortable.” You don’t have to wait until the dust has settled. And you don’t have to wait to start down a new path. You can start small, go big, or anything in between—your doors to self-discovery have just opened up.
Shifting Focus: There’s a Whole World Waiting for YOU
Think of it this way: The world is completely open to you. Freed of the negative constraints of your previous relationship, you can now step out into the world with fresh eyes. You can meet different people and learn new things about yourself by being more aware of the way you interact with them. You can even use the dating field as your own playground for personal growth and discovery.
What other time have you had the chance to really unlock and discover how you interact with different people in different situations? You probably already know what you don’t want in your next relationship. Use dating as a way to have a good time and learn more about yourself and what you DO really want.
By now you probably know there’s really no such thing as “the one.” Let go of the expectation of an outcome or a hope that you’ll find that “one” special someone. Instead, acknowledge that there are many different people out there who can challenge us and start us thinking in new directions.
You’ve been blessed with the opportunity to meet them! You can go out, engage and get reenergized!
Two Vital Skills for Relationship Bliss (Even If You’re Single)
These relationship bliss skills can help you in all your relationships. Learning and working on these relationship skills can help you break free from the notion of “dating rules,” boost your social life, and bring out your best.
Skill #1: Yearning
Yearning is deeper than simply wanting something. Yearning can come from a need to be seen, to be touched, to be recognized and to be acknowledged. The funny thing about yearnings is we often don’t realize what they’re really all about until we take a giant step back.
“We start by reawakening our moment-by-moment yearning to see and be seen, to touch and be touched, to love and be loved, to matter, to contribute, and to make a difference. Our fights are unconscious attempts to get our unrecognized yearnings met or a protest against them not being met. Great relationships require stepping out of routine and habit, and this skill begins by learning to have our yearning guide us in our interactions.” –The Heart of the Fight
For example, on the surface, maybe you’re bothered when someone talks over you or when your date orders for you at a restaurant. Your true underlying yearning is your desire to be acknowledged and heard. If you’ve been dismissed frequently in the past, you may have developed a pattern of pushing down your yearnings, instead feeling quietly resentful.
Think of how much more freeing it would be to express your yearnings and to say, “You know, I’d like to order for myself,” or “I want my living room to look this way.” Identify your yearnings, embrace them and don’t hold back!
Skill #2: Engaging
Engagement is putting things out on the table. It’s being present, being honest and truly expressing yourself.
“Engaging is a deeper and wider concept than just listening or concentrating, though these are important elements of engaging…Understand that to be truly engaged, your yearning and your emotions must be involved. You may be completely focused on your new boss at work, a new date, or shopping at an exclusive new store, but even if you are totally turned on by your favorite designer’s hot new collection, these activities don’t satisfy a deeper yearning, and therefore your engagement takes place on a superficial level. Worrying about the new boss, being curious about the new date or, sorry to say, even finding the hottest new designer shoes doesn’t qualify as fulfilling a yearning, nor does being kind of high and buzzed constitute real emotion. Similarly, if your mind is into something but your heart is not, you’re lacking the emotional involvement that distinguishes true engagement. Just as emotions help us sense what we yearn for, they are the litmus test for full engagement. We feel an experience deeply when we’re fully engaged in it. So when we ask if you’re engaged, we’re asking if you’re involved in a given activity with your heart, mind, and soul.” –Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living
Disengagement comes from hiding your yearnings. It can come from a desire to win an argument, not for the good of the relationship, but simply because you want, above all, to be right. Does engagement mean polite interaction or acquiescing to the whims of another? No, of course not.
Many of us shy away from engagement because we think it means conflict, and we think conflict is bad. Well, guess what? Conflict isn’t bad! In fact, conflict can be a great way to stimulate and accelerate your personal growth. You can read more about these relationship bliss skills in our book The Heart of the Fight.
Remember, your journey is only beginning and it’s an exciting and energizing time to embrace the new world ahead!
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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Foundation performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.