This week's question comes from Irene:
“Hi Orna and Matthew,
I’ve been following ‘Love On Purpose’ for 6yrs now. I’ve learned so much.
I want to know how to bounce back and create lasting love after divorce. I was married for 17 years and divorced my husband 4 years ago. He is an addict and broke my heart for the last time. I finally got sick of his issues and kicked him out. I’ve been focused on raising my kids and now they’re in college and getting ready for college.
I really haven’t dated much. I did have a couple of boyfriends but they were never serious relationship material. Heck, I never even told my kids about them.
The thing is, I’m tired of being alone and I think I want to have a different relationship than my marriage. He was and still is such a difficult person to deal with. I really want to do it differently this time but I’m not even sure where to begin.
I would love your advice about how to go about this so that I don’t waste my time. I really want to spend the rest of my life with someone special!
I love you guys and can’t wait to hear what you have to say!”
What an exciting time! It makes sense that dating again can feel daunting after your divorce, but it can also be a new adventure if you take the necessary steps to create lasting love after divorce from the beginning.
So many people approach dating like it is a necessary evil. Sharing dating horror stories, committing too quickly, treating everyone on a dating site like they are trying to con you, and looking for reasons to say “no” to a prospective date are some of the common mistakes that people re-entering the dating world commit.
And while dating is a necessary step to finding your Beloved, we want to focus on a bigger picture approach to being successful at dating and relationship. Strategies and techniques are helpful but if they aren’t combined with a positive mindset and some deep introspection, then you’ll get stuck in the same old patterns that have plagued you in the past.
With that in mind, we’d like to share:
5 Steps To Creating Lasting-Love After Divorce
These steps are not a quick fix for meeting your Soulmate in 30 days or some other unrealistic expectation. However, if you approach them sincerely, then you will not only be successful in meeting your guy, you’ll also be in a position to select an ideal partner to experience lasting-love with.
Release any remaining anger and resentment from your divorce.
It is normal to feel lingering anger and resentment from a relationship that did not last. No one enters a marriage thinking it won’t last and that it will be unfulfilling. All relationships begin with a lot of hope and a vision of the future.
Before moving forward with a new relationship, you’ll want to make sure you don’t bring any of that negative emotion into dating and especially into a new relationship. If you’ve ever been on a date with someone who couldn’t stop complaining about their ex, then you get why this is so important.
Hope is the first thing to enter a relationship and it is the last thing to leave. In order to move on, you have to kill the hope. We know this sounds a little harsh, but deep down part of you still hopes that he can be the man you believed him to be when you met him.
This lingering hope will continue to stir up anger and resentment about how he was unable to live up to your expectations. These feelings will filter the way you see men and dating and relationships in general.
Take time to acknowledge what your original expectations were with your Ex, and how your relationship in general, and he in particular failed to live up to them. Feel the grief, allow it to move through you and let it go.
Also, look into your own behavior. A relationship dance happens between two people. Did you communicate your wants, needs, and desires in a way that they could be heard? Did you own the mistakes you made when you were triggered and upset?
After doing this introspection around your marriage, take time to practice some forgiveness for you and for him. Forgiveness is ultimately for you, so that you can let go of the energetic dance you’ve been doing with him. It doesn’t excuse his behavior or make it okay, but it does allow you to release yourself from the past.
Find the Golden Nugget of learning.
We believe that people and situations show up on our lives to teach us and help us grow. Growth doesn’t happen when times are good. Growth occurs through our struggles, difficulties, and challenges.
There’s a question people often ask, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” The best answer is: To Make Them Better. A diamond is created from being under tremendous pressure.
Having to leave a marriage of 17 years can be one of the most difficult experiences you will go through in life.
What did you learn about yourself from this experience? How did it help you grow into the person you are now? What else do you need to learn in order to finally let this experience go?
We call this exercise the Golden Nugget of Learning. You are mining your experience with your Ex to find the nugget or nuggets that will allow you to be grateful for the experience. (The gratitude is for the growth, not the experiences themselves.)
You’ll want to ask yourself, “What did he show up to teach me that without this experience I would not have learned? Why did it have to be him?”
Discovering the Golden Nugget will transform your relationship to your ex, your divorce, and yourself.
We can assure you that you will find the nuggets that bring into focus of what your Ex allowed you to learn. Certainly the gift of your children is part of the equation, and we want you to focus on you and your growth as a person specifically.
A great example is Orna’s experience with her past boyfriend who beat her. She now believes that the experience led her on a path to end the patterns of abuse from her childhood and that there is no way she would be doing this work in the world if she hadn’t been through that experience. It was truly a wake up call of a lifetime.
Discover your patterns that selected your Ex in the first place.
There is a reason you found your ex-husband attractive in the first place. There is a reason you chose to marry him. Finding what was familiar to your subconscious will reveal the changes that you will need to make in order for you to choose in alignment with your desires this time.
Identifying your relationship patterns and taking responsibility for them will keep you from repeating them. Look over your relationship history and see if you can find the patterns in your choices and your behavior.
You see, we learn how intimate relationships function in our family of origin when we are small children. There is a gap between how we desire to be loved and how our parents are capable of loving us. The beliefs we take on to reconcile this gap become our story of love.
Maybe your father was angry and emotionally distant. Maybe your mother expected perfection from you. Maybe you had a sick parent or sibling who required everyone’s attention and you felt ignored. Whether your experience was dramatic or seemed more ordinary, your childhood experiences determine your strategies for giving and receiving love.
Take time to introspect about your childhood and your past relationships and see if you can identify the patterns. If you don’t identify the patterns that do not serve you and make necessary adjustments, you are destined to repeat those patterns in your next relationship.
Focus on filling yourself up.
You can’t expect another person to fill the holes in your heart, or to complete you. A relationship is not a good antidote to loneliness or emptiness inside. When you expect someone else to fulfill you, you set yourself up for a co-dependent relationship that is not sustainable and will never bring fulfillment.
Start doing the things that you want to do when you would have your partner. Travel, or take on new hobbies, and interests, or whatever your passions are. Don’t wait to live your life until your find your Beloved. Start living the life you want for yourself now!
Your kids are becoming independent. They don’t need you in the way they did when they were younger. It’s time for you to enjoy your life.
That way when your man shows up he will only expand on your joy. Putting off your joy and happiness until you are in a relationship will get you stuck in the same patterns from your marriage, where you’ll end up disappointed. No one person can be everything to you. Cultivate friendships where you have similar interests and values. Make sure your life is full and you feel whole.
There is nothing more attractive than a person who is living their passions.
Many people make a false distinction between being happy and single vs. looking for love. Why can’t you do both at the same time? Be happy and single, and also be open to dating and meeting men you haven’t yet met and be curious about them.
You’re in a time in your life when you can focus on you and we suggest you do exactly that. Enjoy your life and incorporate looking to meet new people as part of that enjoyment. Every single person you meet knows men you have not yet met.
Place your focus on activities you enjoy, and create connection with new people. You never know where you’ll meet your Soulmate.
Take a new approach to dating
Look for reasons to say, “Yes!” to a date. Date a lot of different people. Look to discover about yourself through the dating process and bring your ideal relationship into a crystal clear vision in your mind’s eye.
The mistakes people make when dating online and offline are far too numerous to list here. The most common mistakes are:
- Looking for your soulmate in a dating profile and ignoring anyone who isn’t a perfect fit.
- Believing that online dating and dating apps are full of people looking to scam you or who are just interested in sex.
- Making a detailed list of qualities of an ideal partner and expecting the universe will deliver this person to you – like Chinese food from a restaurant.
- Committing quickly to the first person you are attracted to who shares some of your interests so that you don’t have to go on anymore dates with strangers.
- Sharing your dating horror stories with your dates and your friends and focusing on how messed up dating is today.
- Looking for “quality men” as if there is a caliber of men in one specific location. Quality is in the eye of the beholder.
- Placing your lovability and your worth in the hands of a stranger.
Instead we recommend a new approach to dating by being curious!
Date To Discover™ as much as you can about yourself before you dress up a stranger in groom’s clothing. Date every guy who asks you out (as long as you don’t feel unsafe).
We call this entering The Dating Lab. Approach dating like an experiment and your job is to gather as much data as you can. The only way to gather data is to go on a lot of dates, and to date a wide variety of men – those you find attractive and even those you do not.
The truth is attraction is not a requirement for a date. It is a requirement for a relationship but not for a date.
You can review step-by-step our unique dating strategies that have helped our clients find their significant other here: How To Date For Your Soulmate.
Through the dating process, if you’re frustrated with the results of your efforts it may be time to work on your mindset.
What you believe to be true is true for you!
Be sure to approach your dates (particularly first ones) with zero expectation.
Never settle for less than what you really desire.
Just because you’re dating a lot of different men and learning what you can about yourself, doesn’t mean we believe that you should try to make a relationship work with someone who isn’t what you’re looking for.
You can’t settle for a lifetime. Attraction without support or respect is an awful situation to find yourself in. On the other hand, being with a loving man who you are not attracted to will not deliver fulfillment and will not last.
Take your time to thoughtfully and consciously re-enter the world of dating. We believe that creating lasting love after divorce is one of the most fulfilling aspects of a life well-lived.
This Swedish Proverb sums it up sharing your life with your Beloved:
“Shared sorrow is half sorrow. Shared joy is double joy.”
We are here to support you on the path to long-lasting, soul-satisfying love!
Orna and Matthew Walters are the premier married couple, Soulmate Coaches teaching around the globe how to choose an ideal life-partner. Watch their short video that explains Why Smart Women Stay Single (it’s not at all what you think).