Divorce: Expectations vs. Reality

Was your divorce anything like you would have expected divorce to be like?

I know mine wasn’t.

Not. Even. Close.

Movies, books, billboards, magazine articles and my own parent’s divorce created certain expectations in my mind about what I could anticipate from divorce.

But the reality?

Something entirely different.

Can you relate?

Here are the expectations many of us have before we experience divorce and the reality that we realize only once we’re living it. 

Advertisements

11 Tips to Make Friends As an Introverted Adult

I watch friendships form every day. I see the new kids slink through the halls and into the classrooms on their first day, both wanting to be invisible and also yearning for recognition and acceptance. Their first interactions with the other kids are often uncomfortable, but within the span of a week, most of the new students no longer stand out as different.

It’s easy to make friends in childhood. School provides both the structure and freedom needed for relationships to develop. Classes and lunch schedules allow for repeated exposure to the same people so that familiarity easily builds. The down time in the halls and the lunch room provides an easy opening for exploration and banter, often centered on the shared experience of school.

It’s not as easy to make friends as an adult.

Especially as an introverted one.

Introverts can easily underestimate the importance of friendships. After all, we don’t feel the same intense pull towards others that our more extroverted brethren experience. Our social groups are smaller, our interactions fewer. The need for time alone is often more pressing than the need for connection.

And yet, we need friends just as much as the gregarious. Loneliness and a lack of human connection has been associated with both lower mental and physical well-being. We introverted ones may treat friendships as a nicety, but they are really a necessity.

Introverts tend to be adept at maintaining already established friendships, especially with people that are understanding of their periodic need for hibernation. But when life circumstances remove those familiar relationships, introverts can stall in the quest to create – and build – new friendships.

So how can introverts make friends in adulthood?

Adult life doesn’t easily provide the nutrient-rich agar that friendships feed off of. We may encounter others sporadically or only with a task-oriented goal in mind. There are no teachers or counselors to intervene on our behalf, requesting that others extend a hand.

By the time we’re old enough to rent a car, we have become quite comfortable with the room within our own minds and, as independent beings, have the opportunity to curl up and stay there. This natural introversion can come across as cold or uncaring, leading to further isolation.

But with just a few tweaks and adjustments, even the most introverted can find and nurture new friendships.

 

Accept that you will be uncomfortable sometimes.

Like most introverts, I am comfortable in my own home. My own room. My own head.

But that’s not where potential friends reside. In order to meet people, you will have to leave your comfort zone. You will be in environments that may feel overwhelming. You will be asked to stretch beyond your unusual routine. Learn to distinguish between ordinary discomfort and your intuition telling you that something is amiss. Refuse to pander to the former and what was once unsettling will become easier to navigate.

 

1 – Seek out one-to-one or (very) small group interactions.

Play to your strengths. You likely find large groups of people draining and even isolating. While an extrovert may throw a party to meet new people, you’ll be better served by inviting an acquaintance to coffee.

Recognize the numerical tipping point where you go from. “I like this” to “This is too much” and strive to keep your social interactions within that limit. When you do find yourself in a big group, try to find or create a smaller, more intimate gathering within (or just beyond) the masses.

 

2 – Say yes.

I know your book is calling. I know that you crave the solitude of your bed after a crazy day. It’s easy to make excuses to those invites that find there way to you. To beg off those intrusions on your peace.

Make a promise to yourself to say “Yes” to a certain number of invitations every month. The gathering may not exactly be your cup of tea (again, you will be uncomfortable sometimes), but you’re opening the door to allowing someone in. And you never know, they just might become a friend.

 

3 – Plan for buffer zones.

If Maslow had written a hierarchy of needs for the introvert, alone time would certainly be on the lower rungs. In order to both maintain your sanity and to ensure that you’re at your best in social situations, plan for some down time both before and after any taxing interactions.

You may be surprised how minimal these need to be in order to be effective. Try wearing headphones to block out others on your daily commute or diving into a book for five minutes in the parking lot before you exit your car.

 

4 – Strive for repeated and frequent exposure.

Familiarity breeds friendships. You cannot make a friend in just one encounter. If you meet someone and they pique your interest, look for a way to see them again soon. If you’re trying to meet others, seek out environments where you encounter the same (manageable-sized) group on a frequent basis.

Repetition is especially important in the beginning of a friendship. You may need to have more contact than you usually prefer in the early stages in order to get the relationship off the ground.

 

5 – Practice extending invites.

I’m good about saying “Yes” to invites, but not as good at initiating them. And since I have a lot of introverted friends, we can easily go quite a long time without contact.

Look for opportunities to extend an invitation. Instead of falling to your default position of doing things alone, see if somebody wants to join. It may feel awkward at first to ask, but often that effort is needed to create the frequency of contact needed for friendship.

 

6 – Use technology wisely.

On the one hand, the internet and texting technology has been a boon for introverts. After all, we can now “talk” to others without ever leaving our home. On the other hand, it can easily provide an excuse to not have meaningful connections with others as we hide behind our screens.

Use technology as an assist, not an excuse. Send an invite through text. Find potential friends through an online interest group. And then put the phone down and talk to the person. In person.

 

7 – Find your niche.

If you find small talk awkward and annoying, you may find it easier to meet potential friends that already share an interest of yours.

Introverts often have passions and hobbies that are largely solo activities – writing, model-building, gaming, etc. Since you may not meet others simply by engaging in your interests, it will take some extra effort to find others that share your enthusiasm.

 

8 – Look outside your familiars.

When we’re in school, our friends largely mirror us. They tend to be of a similar age, background and social class. As adults, we are not limited by the factors that guide childhood friendships.

We find it easier to identify with and bond with those that are superficially like us, but sometimes the best friendships can be formed with apparent opposites.

 

9 – Identify and manage any social anxiety.

Introversion and social anxiety are no the same thing (the former deals with how you recharge your energy and the latter comes from a fear of “what ifs”), but they can go hand-in-hand.

Recognize if you have any signs of social anxiety that are making it more difficult for you to make friends. Anxiety can be managed and inaction often serves to only allow it to grow.

 

10 – Communicate your needs.

Your budding friends may not recognize you as an introvert or may be unfamiliar with the needs of the more introspective set. Be upfront with your need for alone time and be clear that it has nothing to do with your like – or dislike – of another.

People are going to respond much more favorably to an explanation of a need for solitude than to constant brush-offs or unanswered texts. Additionally, if you sometimes need a nudge to get you out of the house, let that be known as well.

 

11 – Maintain your intention.

As an introvert, you need your time alone. Yet you also need meaningful human connection. Once you determine how much you require of each in order to be happy and healthy, make maintaining that balance a priority.

 

 

 

Related –  An Open Letter to Extroverts: What the Introverts in Your Life Want You to Know

 

Guest Post: Proof Divorce Can Make You Happier

When you’re in the midst of it, divorce and happiness seem mutually exclusive. As though you’re not only divorcing your spouse, but also splitting from your ability to ever smile again.

This post gives hope that happiness can follow on the heels of divorce. That sometimes losing what we thought we wanted can sometimes be exactly what we need.

 

Proof Divorce Can Make You Happier

The decision to end a marriage inevitably comes bundled up with worry and anxiety. It’s only human to find yourself wondering whether you’re making a mistake; whether this decision will continue to have negative repercussions – particularly with regards to your mental health – long after the divorce has been finalised.

As familiar as such concerns will be to anyone that has been through or is considering a divorce, though, a recent study conducted by UK-based Quickie Divorce has revealed that they’re often unfounded.

We polled 100 former customers whose divorces had been finalised more than two years ago. We asked them, simply, how happy they now felt and whether they regretted their divorce. Their responses were, we’re pleased to report, overwhelmingly positive.

Of the 100 people we polled, 83 informed us that they were much happier and that they believed that their decision to end their marriage was the right one. Of the remaining 17 respondents, only two informed us that they regretted their decision to end their marriage with the remaining 15 stating that, whilst they believed that they did not regret their divorces, they had found it difficult to adjust to their new lives. All but four of these respondents also informed us, however, that they still felt optimistic for the future and that they believed that they had found it difficult to adapt because they had not established a solid support network following the end of their marriages.

A large number of respondents – 37 to be precise – also reported that they were now in new long-term relationships. In addition, 22 of these individuals stated that they had learnt lessons from their marriages that had benefited their new relationships. In particular, they felt that they were now better at compromising and were more considerate of their partner’s needs.

One of the most common concerns amongst parents that are considering a divorce is that it will have both a significant and adverse effect on the children of the marriage but, of the 73 respondents who had children, only two informed us that they believed that their children had struggled following their divorce. The remaining 71 reported that they felt that their children had benefited from both their and their spouse’s determination to remain civil and create co-parenting plans that were robust enough to meet the needs of both parties and their children.

Ultimately, the pertinent findings of this study are that the vast majority of respondents felt much happier following their divorce, that divorce does not necessarily harm any children involved and that establishing a strong support network during a divorce – as well as maintaining it following the marriage having legally ended – is vital for the emotional wellbeing of those involved.

More important, though, is the fact that this study shows that the worries that so often accompany the decision to end a marriage are often baseless. Indeed, when we asked respondents what advice they would give to anyone that is considering a divorce, their guidance could, without exception, be summarised with one simple statement: trust your judgement.

 

Jay Williams works for Quickie Divorce, one of the largest providers of uncontested divorce solutions in the United Kingdom.

 

Five Vows to Make With Yourself After Divorce

Divorce affects us all differently. Some come out of the courthouse immediately feeling lighter, while others carry the heavy weight of sadness for many years. Some look forward to a new beginning; others grow fearful or hopeless about their imagined futures. Some cry. Some scream. Some grow bitter. And some grow more determined.

Yet no matter your personal circumstances or your individual response to divorce, this is an opening. An opportunity. A chance for you to take stock of your life, realign yourself with your values and purpose and make a commitment.

Not to another.

But to yourself.

These are the five promises I made to myself after divorce (I think #5 was the hardest and also the most important).

Have you made vows with yourself after your divorce? If not, maybe it’s time. After all, the promises we make to ourselves are perhaps the most important ones of all.

Four Surprising Emotions You May Experience When You’ve Been Cheated On

Shock?

Check.

 

Anger?

In droves.

 

Sadness?

The tears were surely a testament to that.

 

Fear of what was to come?

In every moment.

 

Those were some of the emotions that I experienced when I discovered that my first husband had been having an affair. None of those feelings surprised me; they were the emotions I would have expected to follow the gut-wrenching discovery of betrayal.

But they weren’t the only feelings that I experienced. And the others caught me off-guard. Here are four unexpected emotions that you may experience after the discovery of infidelity.