There are the good reasons to reenter the dating scene after divorce – you’re happy with your life and you’re looking for someone to share it with, you’ve gained wisdom from healing and you’re ready to put those lessons into action, after reflection and hard work you’re better in touch with want you want out of a relationship.
And there are the reasons that many of us begin dating again – we’re looking for distraction from the pain, our self-esteem has taken a beating and we’re seeking validation and finally a fear of being alone with our thoughts is prompting us to remain busy with others.
I know it does for me. As much as I tried to convince myself that I was dating for purely noble and mature reasons, the truth was actually much more cliched. I wanted to feel wanted, desired. Spending the evening with the man de jour was significantly more fun than spending that same time processing my grief in my journal. And finally, as long as I had another date to look forward to on the calendar, I didn’t have to consider the very scary possibility that I would be alone forever.
And dating DID make me feel better. At least in the moment. Through the eyes of the men I met, I slowly began to reform the image I had of myself. I was able to begin to see my strengths again, instead of just my brokenness. I began to feel alive again. Hopeful, even, for the future that stretched out in front of me.
But dating is by no means the only – or even best – way to reach those milestones. In fact, here are six ways to reaffirm yourself that DON’T require dating:
1 – Travel Somewhere Alone
Travel is amazing. Solo travel is life-changing.
Traveling alone provides you with opportunities to get out of your head and ditch your typical life-script. Travel forces you out of your comfort zone and requires that you look at the world – and yourself – in a new light.
This doesn’t have to be any time-consuming or wallet-draining adventure. Even a day trip to a nearby and unfamiliar town can be enough to shake up your expectations and help you find what makes your soul sing.
2 – Invest in Your Appearance
With the depressed mood that frequently follows divorce, it’s easy to let the appearance slide. And we often don’t even think about addressing it again until there is someone that we’re hoping to impress.
But why wait? You don’t need a romantic interest within sight in order to pay attention to what makes you feel attractive. Why not dress to impress yourself?
3 – Focus on Learning a New Skill or Topic
We’re often our own worst enemy after divorce. We take up residence within our own heads and beat ourselves up for not being healed already. So why not turn that focus outward?
We’re often gentler with ourselves in the process of learning something new; we accept the process and the mistakes along the way. It can be a good reminder that we can be kind to ourselves even while we are working towards a challenging goal. As a bonus, as you begin to master the new skill or topic, you gain confidence and broaden your sense of your potential.
4 – Join a Team or a Club
You were a team – you and your spouse. And so it feels strange and alienating to now be a solo operator. Why not find a new team that you can play a vital role in? It can be anything from a weekly trivia meetup to a monthly kickball game through your work.
After divorce, it’s easy to feel as though you no longer matter. A team is a concrete way to remind yourself that you are needed and appreciated both for what you can offer and for who you are. After all, it feels really good to hear, “We missed you last week.”
5 – Share Your Expertise
You may be a newbie when it comes to this whole divorce thing, but you’re an expert at something. If you’re not sharing your wisdom already, look for opportunities to become a teacher in your areas of expertise.
When we teach, we are planting a part of ourselves in another and nurturing that seed until it grows. There is little in this world that is more life-affirming than watching knowledge spread and grow.
6 – Participate in a Support Group
Part of the challenge in divorce recovery is the fear that we’re somehow doing it wrong. That we’re progressing too slowly or not responding in the right ways. And if you’re isolated in your healing, it can be easy to believe those assertions as they remain unchallenged.
A support group – either in-person or virtual – provides you with the opportunity to witness the immense variety in the recovery paths taken by others and also gain a sense of the commonalities that unite us all. Furthermore, when we give space to honor our pain, it no longer fights for supremacy in the rest of our lives.