Starting Over Again
By Harlan Jacobsen
TO DATE OR NOT TO DATE
When is the right time to start dating, and when is the wrong time? The wrong time is when you are not "ready for dating", but the question remains "when" are you ready?
THE DIVORCE PROCESS IS A LOT OF HASSLE AND A LOT OF STRESS
Starting to date again is often a great deal of stress. Adding this stress on top of the other may just be too much. When you have most of the stress removed from the divorce process, then you can more safely consider dating again.
IN THE MEANTIME, PLAY IT COOL
Get out and mix with and be with other singles, but avoid any heavy dating situations initially, until you feel ready for them.
THE URGE WILL BE THERE--PROBABLY LONG BEFORE THE ABILITY
You may feel like a kid turned loose in a candy store. All that to choose from, but not having the wherewithal to partake of any of it.
MEET, MIX AND SOCIALIZE--
PARTICIPATE IN GROUP SINGLES ACTIVITIES AS SOON AS YOU CAN
You can avoid dating situations or any other situations you are not yet ready for, simply by saying, "I am not ready for that yet." This is the main "line" you will need in your "pre-dating kit".
PRE-DATE BEFORE YOU ARE READY TO DATE
Pre-dating is, for example, meeting someone prearranged for coffee after an event (or anytime), at a public restaurant, etc. You and they both get yourselves there and you leave alone. Not too stressful, but gives you practice and self-confidence for regular dating.
DIVING RIGHT INTO A HEAVY RELATIONSHIP CAN BE DEVASTATING
It feels so good having someone again, you often get overly involved. These big initial relationships almost always end abruptly, and the aftermath is often worse than your divorce.
EASY DOES IT -- WHEN YOU DO START DATING - - NO "MATE HUNTING" FOR 6 MONTHS
We all have this tremendous urge to fill back in the half that seems to have been sawed off. It is normal to want someone "special" again. We often go bananas one way or the other. We will either stay home for years, because we are sure that no one would ever be interested in us, or go berserk trying to date everyone, to prove we are okay, desirable and dateable.
SHOULD YOU DIVE IN, PUT YOUR LITTLE TOE IN THE POOL TO TEST THE WATER, OR STAY OUT ENTIRELY?
Some dive in immediately, and after a heavy initial shock, it seems to be okay for most. The "trying the water" bit with the little toe sends over half home right away, since it usually tests quite cold. Such people don’t bother testing the water again for months.
Some never get the courage to even put the little toe in, and stay home in their safe little box. As we’ve said before,
if you do that long enough, the undertaker comes eventually, and puts you in another little box.
HOW DO I GET OUT AND MIX, WITHOUT BEING UNCOMFORTABLE AND UPSET ABOUT HAVING TO UNDERGO THIS AGONY?
Remember, anything you are not familiar with, you do not like (hate). What you learn about, having some experiences, you no longer fear nor dislike. To be comfortable with new behavior (dating again), you should read about it, attend classes, talk to other singles about it, etc. Learn all you can from others’ experience. Then do some "near dating" and "predating", as well as some safe public socializing with other singles who are currently in the same or similar stage of being single. Maybe in this order:
1. Going to organized classes for newly divorced singles, discussion groups, etc.
2. Attend cookouts or easy-going parties.
3. Pre-date: Going to coffee, etc., with each arriving independently and meeting there. This is the least likely type of date to be refused.
4. Near-dating: Arranging to see the person again next week, for example, at some public event, where you both get yourselves there and back.
EACH STEP WILL BE UNCOMFORTABLE, INITIALLY
You will soon get comfortable with one stage, and then be able to advance to the next stage.
REMEMBER -- DO NOT LET ANYONE COERCE YOU INTO WHATEVER YOU ARE NOT READY FOR
You control what you do, not them. This may seem rather stuffy and backward for those of you who have already "dived right in" to the dating scene, but many do not use the "dive in" method, and have to ease into developing friends and relationships.
YOU MAY CONFUSE YOUR "DATING NEED" WITH OTHER NEEDS
~Your need to be with people.
~Your need to have a security blanket. (A friend that you can be "real" with; tell it like it is.)
~Your need to share joys and sorrows.
~Your need to be touched, etc.
YOU HAVE MANY NEEDS THAT CAN BE FILLED IN WAYS OTHER THAN DATING
You may have this awful vacuum, an empty feeling that you know you have to do something about. So you figure starting again will solve this need for you. It may be like the alcoholic. Remember: he doesn’t drown his sorrows, he irrigates them.
You may fill your needs, but you may compound them by dating.
Let us say, for example, that instead of getting out and developing some same- sex and platonic friends, you put all of your energies into a "Mr. or Ms. Biggie" RELATIONSHIP. Now, you have some things in your life that you really need to share and to talk about. The "biggie" may be turned off by them, so you hold them in. You pretend things are one way when they are another.
WORSE YET: YOU TURN OFF ALL THE POTENTIAL "BIGGIES" WHEN YOU TRY TO GET THEM TO FILL THIS BIG VACUUM OF NEEDS YOU HAVE
So, maybe, you need to work on filling your needs outside of the dating scene, and then, when you add dating relationships, it is the frosting, after getting your cake together.
REMEMBER, YOU ARE A RELATIONSHIP ADDICT GOING THROUGH THE WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS
Withdrawal - from any addiction - is painful. (For some addictions, withdrawals take 21 days.) The pain is so great that, rather than to continue to go through the painful withdrawal stage like a drug addict, we will look for a substitute drug. Anything will do, rather than to have to continue to go through withdrawal.
So, being addicted to a relationship, and now being "off of it" (all long term relationships are addictive to a degree), we have withdrawal agony. Finding a new partner (drug) "saves" us from having to continue going through the withdrawal. However, when the new one ends (they all do), the pain and withdrawal symptoms will likely be worse than the original.
GETTING ANOTHER RELATIONSHIP RIGHT OFF MERELY POSTPONES THE PAIN
If you could find and maintain a new relationship the rest of your life, then you would have succeeded in skipping the withdrawal pain. This, however, is statistically unlikely. You will accept darn near anything or anybody that offers to "rescue" you, right now, from withdrawal pain. You will feel so good being rescued, you will convince yourself, "This is my one and only," even if it was Jack (or Jacqueline) the Ripper.
EVERY TIME YOU GO BACK TO YOUR EX OR HAVE CONTACT, YOU ARE LIKE A DRUNK TRYING TO SOBER UP
It is hard to stay out of the liquor store, but every time you go back (or switch to wine, for example, another relationship), you are only postponing getting the "sobering up" over with.
NEXT ISSUE: Allowing someone special to bask in your sunshine.