Relationships are hard. The end.
I have been watching Married At First Sight Australia the last couple weeks, for fun if I'm honest but for work if you tell anyone. There's obviously a very distinct line between those there for love and those there for the publicity that surrounds it but those that are there fore love; you can feel it through the screen. Gorgeous John is 54 and divorced from his childhood sweetheart. After a shit-run in Season 4 he's BACK in Season 5 to give it another go, how is this dedication? How wonderful to still have such faith in finding that one person for you after so many years single. I know I'm invested in his happiness, as are thousands of Aussies he has never met before, because there is something so beautiful about the innocence in a true pursuit of love that people can't help but be drawn to and root for.
Now, I'm not a traditionally romantic person. I like gestures and dinners and the etc but I've never been very gooey or emotional.
Romance is different from love. I definitely very much believe in love.
The difficult thing is, how do you continue to believe in love after having your heart, your trust or your morale broken?
Dating after divorce or the breakdown of a long-term relationship is very different to dating before. Sometimes, even after short relationship if it was either particularly whirlwind or destructive. You are different, the game has changed, there's tinder now and you are probably bitter and tired. You may have had your trust broken and your idea of true love may have changed. If you're not bitter and tired; wait for it. It'll come after blind date #6.
Dating as a single parent adds an additional challenge that I like to call hahahahahaahahahahahahahahaha.
First things first.
Are you healed? Because gosh - I wasn't. Talk about baggage. I came with the motherload. My baggage had baggage. Being in an abusive relationship, whether physical, emotional, financial or sexual, can leave you with self-esteem and emotion issues that are not the duty of another person to fix. I began a new relationship that I tried to use as a therapy, not love, completely accidentally and completely innocently (and gosh he was patient). It wasn't until I stepped back and realised what I was doing to him that I could begin to work through my issues separately, to approach our relationship as a clean slate and not a continuation of the last.
I hate the saying "Two halves making a whole" - you are not a half. You are a whole.
So go and become the amazing whole you are destined to be before joining yourself to another whole person. I was shifting the codependence of my marriage to a new person and no healthy relationship can survive under pressure like that.
Say goodbye to your hangups.
This follows on from above. Whatever your ex did to you is not a sin to be paid by the entire male/female population. Learning to trust again is a you issue and needs to be sorted out in you time, it does not involve routinely reading his messages when he's in the toilet and deleting females from his Facebook contact list while he's in the shower. The problem is with humans, they tend to share similar behaviours or phrases in life, even if they are completely different.
Just because your ex used to say/do the same things doesn't mean the intention is the same behind it.
You have to give new partners the benefit of the doubt. Will they hurt you? Maybe. But if you don't give them a clean slate - you will hurt them. Either way your relationship won't progress.
Slowly. Very slowly.
The weirdest thing you can ever experience in dating is going from married parent to single dater. You are literally resetting yourself and your entire mental relationship planner. There are certain things you let go of once you're in a longterm relationship that you need to brush off and remember how to deal with. Plus you may also be blessed with a caesarean scar and Emotional Deprivation Disorder. Did I shave my legs today? What is Tinder? At which point do I announce the existence of my human child? Do I tell him I'm divorced straight up? What if he's divorced? Will we eat the same foods, drink the same wine, like the same movies and television shows?
We can be so used to a person alongside us that we become resistant to change and adaptation.
They are a new person: accept it.
Your new partner is not your old partner. They won't get your personal jokes or like the same things about you as your last one did. I love concerts, Dave does not. I only watch comedy television, Dave watches any genre. These are not deal breakers for me (although makes real hard to Netflix), but they may be for you. Don't allow the comfortability of an old relationship stop you from making changes in yourself to welcome a new one. When I ended my last relationship I thought extensively about the things I would want in a partner and things that weren't that important to me. After that it is unfortunately a bit of a dating gamble but hopefully one that pays of in a long-term, healthy relationship where neither partner is compromising too much for themselves. Although Dave would probably tell you it's super annoying he can't watch any new shows with me that don't contain at least one actor from SNL.
You know what makes you happy and there's no point trying to push a square person into a round hole.
I have been lonely and down and felt like I wasn't worthy of being loved: but being with the wrong person was a hundred times lonelier.
When I first started dating, someone asked me if I was worried about telling my potential partner I had a child. This had honestly not even entered my mind as an issue.
"Why? Archie is the best. Anyone would be so blessed to have him in their life!"
I never see having a child already as an issue for contention. In my mind it was: Archie is my son and if you're not onboard with that then you're not for us. US. We are a package deal. Single parents should never have to be ashamed or embarrassed about having a child from a previous relationship. They are a part of you whether you have them 100% of the time or half the time and the best way I could enter another relationship with a then 18-month-old was to see us as a package where one of us poos themselves and gets free entry at the zoo. **I will be posting a seperate blog on dating with a two-year-old next week**
No more games, no more playing hard to get and no more power struggles.
You've been there and done that all before and it's time to just be honest. With yourself and your partner.
Starting a new relationship after the breakdown of a marriage or longterm relationship can make you sceptical but you have to embrace it and just let go of fear. They may hurt you, yes, but allowing that degree of honesty from the beginning that you may have taken years to nurture in previous relationships will save you time and heartache. As a 34-year-old mum I don't have time to plays games with anyone but a three-year-old, so honesty is key. Bring up the awkward topics! Tell them what you want and tell them your reservations. It wasn't until I started to trust Dave with my secrets and fears and dreams that he trusted me too and we were able to establish a grownup relationship based on something stable and real.
I must stress I am not a relationship doctor, or any doctor even. Nor am I particularly good at anything I've written above. It's been two years of trial and error navigating a new relationship with very fresh wounds and a beautiful little soul relying on me for direction. We all deserve someone to love us and let us be our true self. Two whole people - alongside each other.
So good luck - may you all find the love you deserve! <3