After my divorce, I jumped right back into dating.
And I went from relationship to relationship. I tried online dating, meeting people through activities I enjoy doing, dating people who started off as a friend….
And nothing lasted. Until my current relationship, which is going on 4+ very happy years!
So what changed? Was it just that I finally was dating the “right” person?
What changed was I did a lot of work on myself — a lot of self development work.
Until I did the work on myself and realized that I was carrying my “story” and my baggage from past relationships into new relationships, I thought I would never have a happy and long-term relationship.
Here’s my “story” — my parents divorced when I was 5. I interpreted that as I was not good enough and I lived my life that way.
I would enter relationships and say “I am not good at relationships.” And then when I would finally drive the person away, I would say “See?! I knew I wasn’t good at relationships!”
It wasn’t until several years post divorce that I did a lot of work on myself and realized that’s what I was doing — and that it did not have to be that way .
In the work that I did on myself, I became more mindful.
I began to look at things from the other person’s perspective.
And I learned a lot about myself.
One of the main things I learned during and after my divorce is that you need to find your happiness within yourself.
I used to think “If only I had the right relationship, I would be happy” or “If only I had a different job, I would be happy” or “If only I lost 5 pounds, I would be happy”. And guess what? I would get in a new relationship and still not be happy. I would get a new job and not be happy. I’d be the thinnest I’ve ever been in my adult life and STILL not be happy! And so on.
The happiest moment of my life was when I realized that I solely am the one responsible for my own happiness, which completely shifted my mindset on relationships and led me to the happy, healthy relationship I’m in today.
If you find yourself stuck in the same position, here’s what I learned about finding love after divorce:
- Realize that happiness comes from within. You cannot get your happiness from someone else. They can add to your happiness, but not solely provide it.
- Know the importance of empathy and compassion. This is actually important to employ with everyone, not just romantic relationships… and this includes your relationship with yourself! Be willing to look at the other person’s point of view as valid as your own. Related to compassion is the importance of good listening. The number one way to have a great relationship (romantic, or otherwise) is to be a great listener.
- Be mindful of what works and doesn’t work for you in a relationship, and communicate that effectively to your partner in a way that honors you both. Also know what is important to your partner.
- Remember the importance of having fun! It’s great to laugh, and happiness is attractive!
- Distinguish between your “Must-Haves” versus your “Nice-to-Haves”; and know that sometimes friendships can develop into the best romances! (I know this from personal experience!)
My main takeaway is this:
If you are feeling discouraged after divorce or separation — and perhaps wondering if you will ever find love again — don’t give up.
It is important to do your work on yourself first, and not carry baggage from past relationships into your new one.
Once you have done the work and feel ready, put yourself out there. Try online dating, meet people doing activities you enjoy, meet friends of friends… and remember, the right person will come along at the right time IF you don’t give up and you keep a positive mindset.
Deanna Coyle is the Founder of Vesta: Redefining Divorce, which provides informative and social events & retreats that educate, empower and connect people to help them navigate life before, during and after divorce with confidence. Vesta’s mission is to provide people with trusted resources and a supportive community to enable them to take that challenging life transition and turn it into an opportunity to create a new and happy life for themselves and their families. You may contact Deanna at (508) 744-6014 or Team@VestaDivorce.com.