As a divorce attorney here in Orlando, as well as a divorcee of some years myself, I have reached a conclusion about dating after divorce: it’s not personal.
After my divorce was finalized, I never expected to become somewhat of an authority on adult dating. My personal experience, as well as my divorce clients’ experience, has put me in a unique position to gather a wide range of insights from a large cross section of similarly situated adult daters.
I did not date during the two-year period of my separation from my former husband. I wanted the door on that chapter over and done before I embarked on any remotely romantic liaison. I did not want my new romance to be touched or tainted in any way by the angst I felt while my divorce case inched its painful path through the halls of injustice.
I made an assumption that turned out not to be what was intended for me on my journey: that I would meet the man of my dreams in a year or two after my divorce was finalized, and the relationship would be so awesome that every drop of blood, sweat, and tears from my divorce would be well worth the sacrifice. To learn more about love addiction,
The Divine had different plans for me as I embarked on a humble and earnest journey to find, be found by, or otherwise collide with my “person.” I knew this journey by necessity would involve a vetting process known as adult dating (insert internal cringe).
Here is what I learned. Dating is not personal. Male, female, LGBT, gay or same sex divorce: it makes NO difference. I know, how can I say such an insensitive, cold thing when affairs of the heart are involved, in other words, your love life?! The hard truth is that dating is not your love life. Dating is a necessary part of getting to know someone well enough to determine if you are compatible enough tothat you both want. That is all, simple as that.
I learned that dating, although it seems higher in significance on the emotional scale of our relationships, in reality is actually beneath the emotional importance of our family, platonic friendships, and even our collegial and business relationships. Your dating partner (usually, in most cases) is a complete newcomer to your world, to whom you owe nothing, and from whom he or she owes nothing to you. If your goal is entering into a committed love relationship, picture your emotional hierarchy list like this:
- Goal: Committed Love Relationship (My Boyfriend or Girlfriend)
- Family (People Related to Me by Blood)
- Platonic Friendships (My Personal Friends)
- Collegial/Business Relationships (People I Work and Do Business With)
- Dating Partners (People I am Vetting for a Committed Love Relationship)
Feel free to switch up the first four lines, I am taking some latitude in the hierarchy for the purpose of demonstrating that your dating partners should be at the end of the list. In case you are with indignation gasping, “why?”: Because unlike your family, platonic friendships, and collegial and business relationships, you and your dating partner are actually on conditional probation, pending approval of one another (not one or the other!) to be promoted to the status of a committed love relationship. Until this happens, you have to have thick skin when it does not develop, because it is truly not personal. At all. Period.
Believe me, I know what comes next in the chain of emotional “logic” after a dating partner fails your expectations, or seemingly worse, you fail theirs: One post-divorce dating partner is likely going to have feelings of rejection, abandonment, and insecurity about his or her self. That is an entirely separate and prickly ball of wax with thorns, which I will elaborate on in another article. Because of this prickly, thorny ball of wax, we in the adult dating world are inclined to place higher significance on our dating relationships than on our family, platonic friendships, and collegial and business relationships. It’s a mind trap! Steer clear of that emotionally illogical thinking.
For purposes here, keep in mind the vast and immeasurable factors in play with two dating partners. The ever elusive and impossible to quantify “chemistry” and “connection” factor; a person’s non-negotiable boundaries, for which neither one of you know about the other yet; past traumatic experiences, for which neither one of you know about the other yet. Then stir in quirks, pet-peeves, personality incompatibilities, aspirational incompatibilities, political incompatibilities (an unfortunate reality these days), and plain and simple “turn-offs.” These factors are varied and unique to every one of us.
When dating, always keep in mind that you possess these vetting criteria in just the same intensity as your dating partner. That is why when a dating partnership fails to bloom into a committed love relationship, it’s not personal.
I would love to hear your experiences and thoughts on dating after divorce.
If you have questions about divorce or a battered relationship, please reach out to me for a free consultation and discussion. It would be my distinct pleasure to help you get back the life you deserve.
Andrea is a native Floridian and grew up right here in Central Florida. She is a respected divorce lawyer, coach, consultant, author, and mediator within the Florida court system.
Andrea earned her juris doctorate from Loyola University College of Law, New Orleans and graduated from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor of arts degree in Legal Studies.
She has been certified as a family mediator by the Florida Supreme Court, is a trained collaborative family law attorney, is a member of the Collaborative Family Law Group of Central Florida and the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals.
With over two decades as a trial attorney, Andrea has fine-tuned her understanding of the unique dynamics and challenges families face during restructure. She handles contested family law cases that are litigated in court, but believes that family mediation, cooperative and collaborative divorce are by far the more effective, more respectful, and more healthful means to divorce, especially when there are children involved.