Are you struggling to find love again after divorce?
“I’m never going to find anybody else.”
“I’m doomed to die an old cat lady.”
“Nobody else is ever going to love me like he/she did.”
“My ex was the one. And now he/she is gone and I’m alone.”
I hear it all the time. Variations on a theme. A composition of loneliness and longing that often settles into bitterness and resolve.
After divorce or a break up, most people enter a phase of chosen singlehood. It is a period to regain sanity, re-establish self and start the steps into a new life. If kids are in the picture, this swearing-off of partnership may last until the children are grown and gone.
Yet at some point, most people decide (or, even if it is not a conscious choice, start to respond to a pull towards) to enter a new relationship. To entertain the thought of dating and be open to the idea of love.
Some people are happy and fulfilled single and make a thoughtful decision to stay solo. This is not for them.
This is for those that want love but cannot seem to find it.
Those who sign up for online dating and never seem to get past the first coffee date. Those who think they found somebody only for the nascent relationship to spectacularly explode before its first anniversary. Those who only seem to attract the broken or seem to always end up with the sh*tty people. Those that are tired of watching everybody else pair off while they’re afraid they will never again be picked.
If you want love,
you want a partner
but you feel like giving up,
This is for you.
You’re Scared of Being Vulnerable
Relationships are hard. Damned hard. And anyone who tells you differently is selling something. After experiencing the anguish at the end of a relationship, it is so tempting (and so easy) to keep others at an arm’s distance. But that never works; love is all or none. If you have walls built around your heart (even if you didn’t intentionally construct them), you are keeping love away.
In order to love, you have to be willing to accept the very real risk of loss of love. Personally, I think trade-off is well worth it (even when I’m feeling overly vulnerable), but you will have to decide for yourself if and when it’s worth it in your own life.
You’re Looking to Fill Your Ex’s Shoes
When something or someone slides into our pasts, it can be easy to look back with rose-tinted glasses. Smoothing over the rough spots and settling on the good. Additionally, when we are with someone for a period of time, we grow accustomed to their particular strengths and can easily take them for granted and assume they are universal traits.
This can combine to creating an ex-shaped hole in your life that you are looking to fill exactly by seeking a doppelgänger. Perhaps you might find someone that seems to fit the gap, but then you discover some characteristic that causes discord in your assumptions. Or, you find that potential partners sense that they are replacements and they leave in search of somebody who wants them as they are.
A new relationship will never be the same as your former one. It will be different. And be open to the idea that different can be better. It means that you will have to accept the lack of some things you used to take for granted and it means you will be surprised by new benefits you didn’t have before.
And most importantly, it means that you have to take responsibility for filling that ex-shaped hole before you go looking for love. Be a partner to love. Not a cavity to fill.
You’re Seeking Perfection
Sometimes when a relationship ends, we assign its failure to its imperfection. And so we seek the ideal. The guaranteed. This time, we want the real thing. The soul mate and the fairy tale. Because if we can just find the perfect person, it will all work out.
And there is truth in some of that. At its most basic, your marriage did fail because of imperfection. Not just with the situation. And not just with your spouse. But also with you. Because nothing and no one is flawless and faultless.
Real love, lasting love, doesn’t begin with perfection. It begins with the acceptance (and open discussion) of imperfection. Perfection assumes you say, “I do” and then you’re done. You just sit back for the ride. Acceptance of the idea that we are all always learning creates the foundation for a growth mindset marriage. Not perfect, but fulfilling.
Your Actions Don’t Align With Your Intentions
It’s easy to say you want love. It’s easy to complain about the quality of the people on dating sites or the lack of options in your environment. Words take little energy. Wishes even less.
Love doesn’t come to the lazy. Especially love after loss.
If you want a relationship, ensure that your actions match your intentions. Get out and meet people. Lead with curiosity rather than judgement. Say “yes” to experiences and opportunities.
If you want a relationship, don’t act like you’re on the prowl. Act with integrity. Be trustworthy. Show that you can be committed. Don’t claim you want stability while you’re refusing to stand still. And most importantly, be the person you hope to attract.
You Are Sending Out Warning Signals
We are often unaware at the subtle signals that we are constantly receiving from others and sending out to those around us. And even those these signals are often subtle and below conscious awareness, they are powerful.
Do you keep attracting broken people that seem to need fixing or parenting? Perhaps you’re unwittingly sending out the message that you need to be needed in order to feel okay about yourself.
Do you keep attracting control-freaks that at first want to “save” you only to later try to dictate your life? Maybe your damsel-in-distress call has been heard by someone that needs to feel powerful.
Do you continually have people abandon you? Is it possible that you come across as too clingy, your intense neediness inadvertently pushing others away?
It’s hard to see these signals head-on; it’s often easier to spot them in the patterns of our relationships. If you always seem to end up in the same position, look to your own insecurities to learn why.
You’re Looking For Too Much Too Soon
When you’ve been married or in a long-term relationship, you acclimate to the intimacy of a well-known person. You become comfortable. Safe. And it’s easy to except to find that same feeling again.
But that’s impossible.
It takes time and effort to develop a partnership. Instead of looking for insta-intimacy (which is usually just lust and/or desperation), look for someone that has the raw materials that you want that you believe you can build a relationship with.
You’re Still Anchored to the Past
It’s easy to be so done with the past that you try to move on too soon. There is a reason that the saying, “The best way to get over a man is to get under another” exists. There is nothing wrong with post-divorce flings, but don’t confuse them with love.
When you’re still enmeshed in your past, either situationally or emotionally, you are not creating the space or providing the nourishment for a new relationship.
Maybe you just need time. Or maybe you need some help.
But you have to let go before you can move on.
You Are Not Happy With Yourself
This is especially common with people who have been subjected to abuse, abandonment or infidelity. It is so easy to internalize your partner’s actions. To take them personally. To assume that unloving actions and words were directed at you because you are somehow flawed. Unlovable.
And when you believe that, others will begin to believe it as well.
Finding love with and for another has to begin with finding love for yourself. With forgiving your own mistakes and seeing your own beauty.
And the first step is realizing that when somebody treats you poorly, they are telling you more about their character than about your worth.
You Tell Yourself, “I’m Never Going to Find Love Again”
When you prime the pump for failure, don’t be surprised when you fail. Yes, learning to be open and vulnerable again is hard. Yes, finding somebody that meets your needs and puts up with your flaws is hard. Yes, relationships are harder when we are older have have more complications in our lives. And yes, getting a relationship past the early dates and into love is hard.
And hard doesn’t mean impossible.
Never say never.