Your long-term marriage ended, and after some healing, you are ready to look for love again. Frightening and exciting, looking for love after a midlife divorce has its challenges. Most likely you are wary of making the same mistake again and falling in love with a new version of your old spouse.
Noted. And valid.
Now Serving: A Post- Divorce Dating Combo Platter Of Anxiety
Finding love after a divorce is a combo platter of anxiety! First, you wig out about meeting a suave serial murderer. Next up, the fantasy of finding a wealthy, handsome, caring man who was too busy with his career to marry before he met you. And if you believe that sis, you are watching way too much Hallmark channel.
Statistically, you will meet and date the murderer before you find a middle age man with no previous relationship history.
If you happen to find one that has not been married before, there is a reason. Trust me.
You have two options: remain single. Or find the next love of your life with the knowledge that you both have self-growth and change to accomplish.
The Two Questions You Must Answer
There are only two questions to answer: are you willing to take the risk of finding a new partner at your age? And are you prepared to be patient, connected and supportive as both of you experience triggers from your old relationships?
Simply put, we all are a walking bundle of reactions. Some of us have learned to slow down and react less. Others of us are waking up to the idea that over- reacting is completely voluntary.
When entering a new relationship, you will be triggered. And those triggers will cause you to react. And those reactions, if examined, will tell you an important story about your self-image.
Maybe You Should Talk To Someone
I must remind you that I am a grad student studying Marriage and Family Therapy. By default, I feel that the best place to explore your behaviors and emotions would be in a therapy session. On the exceptionally good chance that you are not going to schedule a session at my urging, try the following suggestions for identifying and taming triggers in new romantic relationships.
You can find love after divorce, but you will be triggered. And that my friend, is a good thing. Triggering gives us the chance to explore our unconscious beliefs. The opportunity to investigate our long term messaging and core reactions is the old way to experience self growth.
Things to Expect When Finding Love After Divorce
Out with the old, in with the new. Like a New Year, the new partner has no idea about the many chapters of bullshit in your previous relationship. Romantic history can repeat itself. Especially if you have not spent any time examining your role in the ending of your marriage/partnership. After identifying the work you need to do, with great intent, healing those sore spots with therapy or self-guided personal growth.
There is simply no perfect partner, and if we have not done the work of understanding our core issues, chances are good we will, with time, become the same dumpster fire we were before. As we say in the business: what you don’t repair, you repeat. Do your repair work before starting a new romantic relationship. When it feels lonely and difficult, remember finding love after divorce is possible.
We don’t have to understand it, we just have to accept it. It is very common to see your new romantic partner having an emotional reaction to something that seems absolutely ridiculous to you. Watching them be triggered by phrases, music, or memories is a bit like observing a hurt animal, you want to help, but you don’t know where it hurts. Or even more confusing, why it hurts.
While it is helpful to understand what they are feeling, give them some time and space to process the trigger. Neutral statements like:” when you are ready to share, I am here to listen” and “ let me know how best to support you while you process this emotion” are validating and supportive without adding judgement to the situation.
Try to remember that it is not about you. Yes, you might the be reason your new partner is triggered, but most likely you did not intend for it to happen. Assuming you are not some puppy slapping weirdo, you did not mean to set the chain of emotional doom into motion. It is critical to step out of your defensive space and let the other person have their reaction to their emotions. It is not your job to fix, solve or reject what they are feeling, you are not Dr. Pimple Popper.
Just like a big nasty pimple, they are squirting emotional pus that needs to be drained to heal (I know, a super disgusting picture). Don’t squeeze or put pressure on the emotional infection, a hands off approach is best. Stand by, be loving and offer to help them process after the pressure is released.
Remember- We Only Date Safe People
Important disclaimer: If there is uncontrolled anger, verbal, physical or emotional abuse, you are not safe. Separate yourself from your new romantic partner and seek out a licensed counselor to help you explore the issues in your relationship. WE DON’T RESCUE PEOPLE, GOT IT?
A healthy life does not include fixer upper project people, men or women!! K-thanks.
Navigating new romantic relationships and finding love after divorce is challenging. There will be days when it just feels easier to be alone than to spend the energy on emotional support for you and your new person. But the truth is, a new midlife romantic partner is basically a BOGO. They grow and challenge you, you grow and challenge them, ultimately you move together toward greater self-knowledge and self-compassion.