One of the complaints I often hear from the newly divorced and newly dating is that they don’t feel a connection with any of their companions. They say the dates are “okay” but bemoan the lack of a spark or bond.

But I wonder if they’re looking for the right thing.

In a marriage, intimacy develops between the spouses. You have seen the other at his or her best as well as his or her worst. In time, you accept their vulnerabilities and expose your own. You become accustomed to that level of connection.

And then divorce happens. And either suddenly or with a slow slip over time, that intimacy is gone. And it feels strange. Foreign. Isolating. Lonely.

So you look for that connection, that intimacy. You meet people, go out on dates, looking to regain that feeling of being connected and understood. But every encounter falls short. Sure, some start off with a bang (sometimes literally), but then sooner or later you’re left feeling alone again as the chasm between you and your not-too-far-from-stranger-date becomes clear.

One of my most memorable moments with Brock occurred after we had been dating for less than a year. I was over at his house for the night, where he woke me up around 2:00 a.m. to inform me we needed to go to the emergency room. He was scared – I could see it in his eyes. An hour later, we were in an exam room, the basics addressed and waiting for further tests. This normally strong and self-assured man was prone on a hospital bed, the gown revealing little flesh but lots of vulnerabilities. He asked for me to hold his hand. He asked for me to read to him. It was the first time since my marriage that an adult had been laid bare in front of me.

After months of more superficial connections, it was a bit strange being at that level of intimacy again. Foreign, yet familiar. This was the feeling I was looking for on dates. But that was a fool’s mission. Because that kind of intimacy takes trust and trust takes time to build.

I had been looking for that type of connection again on my dates.

But connections are formed, not found.

You may find lust on a first date, but you won’t find trust.

You may find curiosity, but you won’t experience intimacy.

You may find potential, but you won’t find a partner.

That takes time.

And adaptation.

I have a guest post about the role of adaptation in dating over at Must Be This Tall to Ride. Check it out and then follow Matt’s blog. He’s a divorced father who writes refreshingly honest and funny essays about the adventures. You’ll be entertained and enlightened at all once:)

Thank you for sharing!

14 thoughts on “Connection

  1. You do such a great job of putting into words thoughts, feelings and emotions that I struggle to express. It’s just the thing that helps me move forward…

  2. Thanks for sharing this! As I continue to navigate a new life as a divorced mother of two, this is a topic that I have contemplated and feared. What if I don’t meet anyone whom I can have a genuine and intimate relationship with again? How do I get over the feeling that it is just too much work and risk to enter into a close relationship again? You know the drill, and this helps to remind me that I am not alone and that what I am seeking can be found and formed. Many thanks!

  3. This, this is what scares me. The idea of opening, the thought of intimacy at this level with a stranger. Does that seem odd? I just can’t begin to imagine this level of trust, again someday in the future.

    1. Scared the hell out me. Intimacy and trust are a process. By the time you get there with someone, they’re no longer a stranger. But it’s still scary. So, nope, not odd at all:)

  4. I love this article. As I get back into dating I’m definitely realizing that I was expecting the comfort level I had with my former husband to just magically happen. In fact, I kind of think I messed things up with one guy I was seeing by sharing too much too soon. Lessons learned!

  5. Love it. Thank you for sharing such great insights most people in this world simply refuse to acknowledge as true… and that’s why so many potentially great relationships are doomed to fail before they’re even allowed to start.

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