You’ve made it. You’re through your divorce.
You’ve come out on the other side and have begun to date someone new. You’ve made it official: you’re in a relationship. Perhaps you’ve noticed this relationship feels different than you thought it would. Maybe you expected this new relationship to feel like the others; happy, intriguing, exciting.
Spoiler alert: Once you’ve been divorced, relationships are very different. Why, you ask? A few reasons.
You might not realize this, but you’ve likely built a wall.
Just like the Emperor of China built a wall to protect the Chinese states and empires from raids and invasions, you’ve built up a wall to protect yourself from raids and invaders of another sort. Men. Men who might unintentionally inflict emotional harm by causing you feel vulnerable.
There are plenty of good ones out there and boundaries, defenses and taking care of your self isn’t wrong. It does, however, create some potential issues when you’re starting a new relationship. It can be helpful to reflect on how you want this new relationship to be different from your previous one. If you’re in between relationships, make a list of qualities you want to find in a partner and don’t settle until you find someone who fits a majority of them.
If you’ve gotten this far in life you probably have a few scars.
If you’re like me, you have plenty of physical scars. Falling off my bike, taking a spill on a trail run—you name them. Emotional scars can be a little harder to see and uncover than their physical counterparts. They serve as reminders of a marriage that failed and why you left. But they are also there to remind you that you’re stronger in places you were before now that you’re healed.
You may not be able to see it now, but like physical scars, emotional scars fade with time. Lean on the support of a friend, reach out for support and council from your church, pastor or therapist, journal, attend a yoga class. The path to healing your scars looks different to everyone, but I encourage you to find and pursue what works for you.
Investment in yourself is crucial. You’re worth it.
There is no question that relationships you had in your 20’s were much more carefree than they are now in your 30’s, 40’s or even 50’s post divorce.
You had no real in-depth, first hand experience of what can go wrong in relationships and the hurt it can inflict. You realize that relationships are serious even when you don’t want them to be. That they’re not all just being with someone new, gazing into each other’s eyes and not wanting to spend any time apart.
Real live, grown up relationships are not all fun and games.
So if your post-divorce relationship feels different, that’s okay. It’s to be expected. This new relationship feels different because you, too, are different. You’re a changed person. You are a different woman than the one who walked down the aisle long ago. You’re a different woman changed and recreated by all of those things you learned and survived during your divorce.
Enjoy and celebrate that person who’s so much smarter and wiser, and in charge of her emotions than she was before. A woman who is strong and looks out for herself. A woman who knows her worth and value. This is the new you.