Post divorce dating is a topic I have a lot of interest in. I have been separated for about a year but every time I have tried to date, I would end up spending the date talking about our divorce or separation. Frequently I would break into tears. Not good!
I figured I should be doing this work elsewhere besides on dates. I recently joined a divorce support group that meets at a local church. I was a little apprehensive since I was raised atheist and am currently agnostic, but I had nothing to worry about. The group consists of one divorcee moderator, untrained, as well as a mix of post separated men and women at varying stages of the divorce process; from will move out tomorrow to been divorced 3 years.
At the beginning of the class the moderator informed us that we are not to date each other. This is a relief since spilling my guts in a group setting to the opposite gender is difficult enough without worrying if they are judging me as a potential date. One person did mention that people had paired up in the past, so maybe being told not to has the opposite effect of what the group moderator intended.
The group uses a book to guide the discussion each week; one or two chapters assigned each week. I had read a number of books on divorce already, plus lived through my own parent’s nasty divorce, so I felt I already knew everything to know about divorce but I was wrong. The book we used was Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends (Rebuilding Books; For Divorce and Beyond)
While it is not the most novel of books, and it uses a lot of standard psychology that seemed pretty obvious to me as a lover of psychology books, I did find one part of the book very interesting. It was the chapter related to early post divorce dating; rebound relationships or as they called it in the book “transitional relationships”. Most other books had a “Just say no” approach to these casual, mostly physical relationships that often ended badly and just create more pain than you are already feeling from the divorce. I did not find this “Just say no” dating advice helpful at all.
This book, Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends (Rebuilding Books; For Divorce and Beyond), said a few things I liked on the post divorce dating subject:
1. Don’t beat yourself up for getting into and out of these relationships
2. Try to end them as lovingly as possible
3. Focus on staying within your values and boundaries on these relationships
4. Be safe
5. They have something to teach you
6. Having these relationships is a normal part of the post divorce process
7. Ending one of these relationships may hurt more than your actual divorce
After having a number of very strange, mostly virtual, Anthony Weiner-ish, rebound relationships the first year after my middle aged separation, it was very nice to know that I was not alone or strange.
The book also mentions, as I had discovered the hard way, that a divorce support group could substitute for this type of relationship in a healthier manner.
Overall it is a good book, especially if you are new to psychology and ideas like using “I statements” are novel to you. It was a little dry but had a number of bright spots. I would recommend other divorce and dating books over this one if you only want to read one or two divorce books though.
Read more at Online Dating For Women Over 40: The Hopeful Woman’s 10 Step Guide to Enjoyment and Success