In light of Valentine’s Day creeping up on us this week, I figured I would address dating after divorce (not during divorce, after divorce). So while I sat in my pajamas, clutching a fistful of candy conversation hearts, I filled out an online dating profile. I also signed up for speed dating at the library on Valentine’s Day to get some first-hand experience as to how this all works.
I quickly realized that online dating requires a separate blog (or ten) all its own. I haven’t quite recovered from the shock of it and I am not able to type most of the user names yet without feeling embarrassed.
Being a divorce lawyer places me in the position of often being the first responder to a broken heart. Although not in our job descriptions or relevant to the legal action at hand, we are an experienced team in the triage of heartbreak trauma. Whether it is the spouse leaving the marriage or the spouse responding to it, the despair and grief over the action is always palpable.
Predictably, people often want to rush right back into love after a break up. In the Oscar nominated movie “Her,” Amy Adam’s character says, “Falling in love is a crazy thing to do. It’s kinda like a socially acceptable form of insanity.” And isn’t it? You all have been there experiencing the rush, the intoxication, the mad obsession of your stomach flopping with every new word spoken. What I have observed over the last 15 years is that more often than not, people will use the high of new love to band-aid over their broken hearted hurt in the wake of divorce.
For many reasons, I counsel my clients not to engage in relationships prior to the divorce being complete. It is hard to resist the temptation to be adored and acknowledged by someone else for the traits that seemed to go unnoticed for years by your spouse. It is hard to fight the urge to feel alive and attractive for the first time in you can’t remember how long. And trust me, I understand the loneliness may feel intolerable.
But the statistics of divorce rates in second and third marriages support my cautionary message. (60% for second, 73% for third). People often do not do the hard work and resolve the issues that contributed to the collapse of one marriage prior to entering the next. They can shrug it off with easy responses like “we grew apart” or “I fell out of love.” I urge you to dig deep and look at the reasons why.
Take the time and be patient enough to listen to your heart. Search for that which attracts you back to your authentic self. Find the things you love to do, the things that make you happy, the things that make you feel whole. Be patient and thoughtful when the pangs of fear about being alone for the rest of your life taunt you. In the process, you will make yourself whole again to be fully recharged for the next love that comes your way. But first, and most importantly, you will have fallen in love with you.