A Guide to Finding Love After Divorce.

Via on Sep 27, 2013

love yourself

At the age of 31, I separated from my husband and divorced.

Thus far, it ranks as the most frightening decision of my life and coincidentally, the one that set me free. I didn’t leave my marriage to be with someone else or to find someone better than the incredible man I committed to at the age of 19. No, I left my marriage because I was unlovable, I was unloving to myself and unable to love my husband the way he deserved to be loved.

I was miserable, sick, scared—a shell of a woman. I needed to leave my marriage, to live—to make some serious mistakes, feel the crippling pain of loneliness and discover who I was.

Over the past month, I’ve been reflecting on the last three years since my separation. I can say without a doubt, I have honored the promise I made to myself when I unwed—I set out on a journey, a mission to love again and I’ve found that love, within myself.

The woman I was at 31 is unrecognizable to me, as the woman I am now, at 34 (it feels like three lifetimes ago). I act different. I feel different. I look different—I’ve transformed. My transformation was dependent on my independence; I had to release myself from the safety net of my relationship.

The most difficult part of ending a marriage, is leaving behind the companionship and partnership (fulfilling or not).

When we marry, we adopt an instant partner—an eating partner, a sleeping partner, an ‘obligatory social engagement’ attendee partner, a travel partner, a movie and television viewing partner, an ‘I need help zipping my zipper’ partner, a  ‘changing the air filter’ partner, a hand holding partner, a fighting partner, a laughing partner, a sex partner, a parenting partner, a ‘when you have a bad day at work’ venting partner, an ‘I’m on your side when your mom is driving you nuts’ partner.

It is excruciating for anyone who has experienced this entrenched companionship, to abandon it or be abandoned by it; because life immediately becomes hollow—the seat across from you at the table, empty. The space next to you at the party, vacant. The bed sheets aren’t as messy in the morning, the bathroom remains cleaner, the refrigerator is filled with food gone bad, because you bought too much (because that’s what you’re used to doing).

There is an absence.

It is inevitable during this time of single-hood, to crave the company of another. We invite people into our lives, who are unhealthy or just wrong for us, so we don’t have to be alone—and for a time; that is ok. We don’t realize how desperately intentional it was, until we look back.

This is a mistake we must make, in order to recognize the recipe for finding real love within ourselves and within our relationships. We will become a master of identifying the difference between the times we occupy space, because we feel empty, and, the times we choose to connect, because we feel full.

If there is anyone who has made more mistakes over the past few years, it is me. Yet, all those mistakes have led me to a sound place, a calm place, a place where love has found its way in and out.

For all the women who have boldly gone where now 50 percent of the population has gone, I want to offer some insights as you embrace your new life.

I hope whether you are 25, 35, 45 or 55,  you can extract something valuable from this article and apply it in your life.

So, here’s a guide to finding love after divorce.

1. Have sex.

You have spent years, if not decades, in a (most likely) loyal relationship. You have worked hard—raising children, maybe working outside the home, arriving home to laundry awaiting, dinner to be made, dishes to be washed, bills to pay, emails to answer and homework to tend to—only to pass out when it’s done; without any time for yourself.

You have been devoted to everyone else, possibly void of any sort of passion for years.

It’s time to desire and be desired.

It is important to fulfill your most fundamental and primal needs without the burden of a relationship as you are healing and reclaiming your individuality. It is also a way, to learn what you want and what you don’t want in a partner—sexually and romantically.

Learn to feel the difference between love and lust. What is it like to just have sex purely for pleasure? You are not a slut, you are not being irresponsible—you are having experiences and learning from them, simultaneously.

This is also an opportunity, to make friends with your body and become comfortable in your skin. Acknowledge what turns you on and what doesn’t. Be a fearless explorer—try new positions, role play, be the goddess you have always wanted to be.

Date. Learn how to have a conversation again. Get butterflies, get anxious, feel what it’s like to be exposed—to tell your life story to a stranger. Pay attention to how you describe yourself—it is how you feel about yourself.

When we are in our most vulnerable state, we are the closest to our authentic self—this is where love is found within and recognized by others.

2. Be celibate for awhile.

I suggest it in this order: 1. Date and have sex, then, 2. Be alone.

Go wild and then tame yourself. This is the way of the spirit after a break up. It’s like letting a horse out of a stable when she’s been bucking, frustrated with the restraints. Let her out, let her gallop. She will tire eventually, return to a trot and go back to the stable to rest.

You will need time to process all of your experiences, so being alone and focusing on yourself is an organic progression on this path.

Do not lose the connection to your sexuality during this time—buy a vibrator (I’m a fan of the rabbit), watch Red Tube (if you need a visual) and then, snuggle up to the loneliness. Curl up to the loneliness almost to the point you forget, yet miss what it’s like to have the weight of a man on top of  you, and just enough time, to feel content in your solo life; that you contemplate staying single forever, but know you could never become a nun.

3. Take a solo trip.

If you have kids, get a sitter. If you work, go on your one day off. Don’t make excuses about why you can’t go on a trip by yourself. Drink a bottle of wine in your robe on the balcony of your hotel room. Read a good book. Go to restaurants and eat foods you would never allow yourself to eat before. Put your phone away and romance yourself and your surroundings. Pay attention to what is going on around you.

Explore a new city or a new country.

Go lay on the beach all day and get sunburnt.

Go to the mountains and hike until panic starts to set in, and you think you are lost.

Sit at a bar—or a park if you prefer—and strike up a conversation.

Until we are alone, we don’t realize how much we isolate ourselves from the world when we aren’t alone—when we are part of a couple. We hyper-focus on one another, not others around us. However, the others around us can offer just as much support, if not more than our partner.

Build a relationship with adventure and the people you meet along the way; they’ve all got something to teach you.

4. Learn something new or do something different.

Take a class. Pursue the degree you’ve always wanted to. Apply for the job you’ve always wanted and quit the one you hate.

There’s a treasure to be discovered—your passion. You will find it, because you are looking for it.

Finding your passion is like marrying the man of your dreams, but it’s even better than that—your passion will never divorce you.

5. Expand and contract your friendship circle.

For those of us who were married for extensive periods of time, male friends were non-existent. There is value in platonic friendships with men. They offer a different perspective, necessary as you explore the single life.

We have a tendency to keep distance in our friendships when we are in a relationship or marriages, because of our priorities and lack of time to do it all. You’ve cleared space now; turn to your friendships and give them your time. The bond between women is invaluable.  After this, you will never take them for granted again.

Divorce is like ripping off a blindfold–you will learn who your true friends are immediately. The way to know if a friendship is true, is to make mistakes, hit rock bottom or get divorced.

The ones who stick around—those are your friends, keep them close.  If a person who is not blood related stands by your side when you are in the dark, you can be certain, they really love you. Love them back.

 6. Try a relationship on for size.

Try having a relationship, when you are ready. Observe how you feel. Fall in love and be prepared for heartbreak.

The first person you fall in love with after your spouse, is as intense as your first love. They are usually the opposite in character of the person you were married to.  During this relationship, explore yourself and your boundaries, mess up, do all the wrong things and see what works and what doesn’t.

I think this first relationship after divorce, is a rite of passage. There is always that person, the person you meet in between your old life and your new life, who teaches you the most about yourself. The person who prepares you, for you; so you can move on completely and begin again.

If you are anything like me, you missed out on your entire twenties–the era of dead end dating, one night stands, failed relationships and a closet full of wisdom to wear.

We need time to catch up with everyone else, so dive in and just know you will always come out the other side, no matter how painful it is.

7. Go to therapy.

Talk with someone who is not your friend, not your mother, not your aunt and preferably has a degree hanging on their wall.

We all have unresolved issues and traumas, even if we don’t think we do. We all need someone objective to sit and listen, offer advice, a healthy perspective and  validate our perceptions.

You will need and want to process the experiences you have on your adventures.

8. Fire your desire to claim absolutes.

I swore I would never date this, that and the other and guess what? The person who is perfect for me, is all the things I said I never wanted (because I didn’t know what I wanted; I didn’t know who I was).

Open your gate, let down your guard and be prepared for anything. This willingness to accept things or people you never thought you would, will expose your heart and invite love in you never knew existed.

There is no deadline on this journey. We don’t need to hurry. We can take as much time as we need.

Enjoy this adventure while it lasts, because life will surely settle in again. You may even get married again, and look back on this space between as the most precious time—when it was just you. You married yourself, became your own partner, held your own hand, went to movies with yourself, traveled with yourself, shared meals with yourself, zipped your own zipper;  you became your own date.

Maybe, you will reflect on the time you spent alone, as the most petrifying and liberating period in your life.

I sure do, it was all worth it; no regrets.

by Rebecca Lammersen

Relephant:

Having Sex or Making Love.

 

The Truth About Marriage, Monogamy & Long-Term Partnership.

 

Like the mindful life on Facebook.

Ed: Sara Crolick

About Rebecca Lammersen

Rebecca Lammersen is the founder of Yogalution, a donation based yoga studio in Scottsdale, AZ. I love being alive. I love being a mother. I love teaching yoga. I love to write. I love to know. I love to not know. I love to learn. I love to listen. I love to read. I love to travel. I love to dance. I love to help. I love to serve. That pretty much sums me up. Check out Rebecca's website and her articles at The Huffington Post. Subscribe to Rebecca's feed and never miss a post!

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40 Responses to “A Guide to Finding Love After Divorce.”

  1. yogalime says:

    Brilliant. Thank you Rebecca, it's wild and in the wilderness we find ourselves. Love, Sky, x

  2. asingleparentis says:

    Wow. I am teary. I feel like I wrote this to myself. This is my truth without any waiver. Thank you for this insight, for your journey, your break and for picking up the pieces for us all. Our ages and stages are even the EXACT same. Bless all the rest of the days of our lives.

  3. Kimberly Lo kimberlylowriter says:

    I loved this one!

  4. Dee says:

    I am newly divorced and in the middle of all of the messiness and fear and loneliness and discovery and dating and sex and feeling disappointed by friends and family I thought would be there for me and finding myself. It is terrifying. It is so helpful to read about someone else's journey and know that it will all make sense and I will come out the other end. I have to remember that I am learning so much about me and that learning always has some pain at times. Thank you for leading and lighting the way.

    • Dee, this message–you and your open heart; This is why I wrote this. Just know you are not alone and you will come out the other side, because you just will. Smile because the pain is a sign—you're free. My love and thoughts are with you. ~Rebecca

  5. Richelle says:

    Wow. I’m 51 and have been divorced for two years. I judge myself (harshly) for being alone, for being lonely. For being 51 and unloveable. (I especially appreciated step #2; was judging myself for being a little bit slutty too). Thank you Rebecca. It’s Saturday night and I’m staying home. And that’s exactly what I want to do.

  6. Lily says:

    Beautiful, and so absolutely true, every last word. Thank you for putting all the pieces together and creating a solid validating frame. I feel so proud of myself after reading this, and honored to be a part of this journey.

  7. Tergali says:

    Freedom is the best place to discover ourselves and ring happiness again thank you for share your journey, I think I’m a the five point and as you say before without hurry and so happy to found that the first and best partner of my life has always being me :D thanks again for all !!

  8. Alana73 says:

    I was just like you. I married at 19 and divorced at 31 for me it's been 9 years since that time. I have to commend you on what you wrote. Again I was just like you. I went out and had random sex and got crazy for awhile (this is where we are different. My husband divorced me so me going crazy I think was more of an ego thing to prove I still have it) I then got bored of the loveless hookups and didn't want to continue down a path of destruction and no self respect so I did back off and yes I also have "the rabbit" but I use you porn lol. There was that first man the one I thought I would like to have a relationship with but at the time he wasn't ready fast forward a year and he was but I wasn't because during that time I did learn what I would or would NOT like in a relationship and after awhile I found he was not what I wanted so I moved on to focus on myself and my 3 boys. I have no problems with going out, movies or dinners alone I do it all the time. I have made some really good friends and have stayed in contact with some old ones. I have my advance diving certification and have even gone sky diving. I have gone on a couple of cruises and am now back in school to hopefully go farther in the carrier path I have been following.

    I figured out I didn't want a revolving door of men in my boys lives just because I didn't want to be alone so instead I decided to self reflect and really get to know ME and what went wrong in my relationships. I broke every argument down and was brutally honest with myself and I still stand on some of them because I was right but I also figured out that most of them were BS I was acting and arguing with my SO about things that were totally irrelevant based on the image I wanted to portray to others about my family and life. It looked to people that didn't know what went on behind closed doors like I had a great marriage but like I say now you NEVER know what is going on behind closed doors and I will never live my life that way again.

    Unfortunately fast forward 9 years and I have learned a lot about myself I am a good person and a lot more maturer and wiser but yes now my boys have decided to go live with their dad and I still have not been able to find love because I have drilled it into my head to NOT settle so I think I have just become so used to convincing myself that I can be strong and independent that now I'm totally alone and it hits you. Will you ever find love again? I think there has to be a fine point in learning to love yourself and also allowing yourself to love others and allowing others in at the same time before you find it's too late and your just so solidly set in your own ways that it makes it hard for someone else to come in and you to open up.

    Now that I'm experiencing this stage I just want to let others know to be aware of this trait that we may be forming without even realizing it. Yes it is great to learn to love yourself again but also don't shut yourself off.

  9. I struggle being alone … since I want "connection" with others, meaningful connection. And when I don't find it, I get frustrated and isolate myself & wallow. Not good! I like your writing @ finding a passion that will never divorce you. Great stuff!

  10. Sarah says:

    Beautiful! I feel like I just read my journal..this speaks to exactly what I’ve been going through over the past 3 years, post divorce. It’s tough, strengenthing, heart wrenching, soul searching, painful, delightful and freeing to learn to Love yourself first. Thanks for this!

  11. Jen Tewell says:

    HOLY god. I'm at the beginning of this process and for a moment reading I had hope. :) Thank you.

  12. well said. true. I did most of this.

  13. YoHo says:

    Married at 24, divorced at 31 too. An unbelievably difficult process yes, but some of the things I have done in my life since the divorce I would never have been brave enough to do before the divorce, not because the other half held me back, but because I clung to the safety net. Once you make a decision as difficult as going through a divorce, everything else is no longer as scary. I would never have thought I'd be divorced at 31, and of course I wish it wasn't necessary, it certainly wasn't part of my plan. But stepping outside the "plan" was revolutionary for me.

  14. Anita says:

    I broke a heart to fix my own and it was the hardest thing I have ever done, but it was the right thing for me, because I learnt to love myself

  15. Carla Colwell Cook says:

    I’m in this process now…painful, terrifying and illuminating after 31 years of marriage.

  16. Angela Robinson says:

    Beautiful and just what I needed to read! 44, two kids, my husband walked away after 11 years together. Complete surprise. Thank you for sharing, namaste

  17. Natalie says:

    Perfect and well written…And exactly all of the things I did when I first separated. Loved reading this and knowing that someone else felt the same things and took the same steps. It's amazing to finally be on the other side where you love yourself and have been alone and conquered fears and MOVED ON! <3

  18. Ben says:

    I read this and was appalled. Being on the male side of this story, it was incredibly painful to realize that our relationship had become stagnant and boring. Some my fault some hers. What happened to basic fundamentals of a marriage?? Till death do us part? Yes relationships change, always do, always will. Still…. stick it out. Learn and grow TOGETHER! Remember how and why it started! Its easy to quit and go “have sex”. The basics of marriage have been forgotten and so easily dismissed due to feelings and emotions. Both are horrible leaders and companions. Stick it out, dig in and live and grow together. Forever should be forever! It is much more rewarding and difficult to make it work, together……then to bail out. That’s easy an anyone can do it, all the responses prove my point.

    • Kara says:

      Amen Ben! Although the author does provide some healthy insights (i.e. taking a solo vacation, making new friends, etc.) about how to love yourself again, I do not think she addresses the grief and how to cope in those moments. Going through my divorce (my ex walked out)eight years ago was one of the most difficult periods of my life. I do not wish it on anyone. It did grow from because I felt I had to in order to feel happy again with myself and my life. I have been remarried for five years and my husband is the best!! He is my rock and divorce is NOT an option for us. We decided that early on. We married for life. :-)

  19. Great advice. I dated a women similar to your age that just ended a marriage. She basically went through all of these steps. She had to find herself again after being miserable in a marriage for almost 10 years. It can be a lonely path at times, but you have to keep focused on how much better of a person you are becoming. As you've said, in the 3 years since, you barely recognize the old you and that is a great thing.

  20. Released from hell says:

    I’ve been hiding out in the house since my divorce grieving the loss of my husband and best friend. Knowing I would lower myself to take him back but thankfully the kids hate him and what he did to me (abuse), so I will not go back with him. I have been trying to figure out why I am hiding away and your article made me realize a few things about myself. Yes, it is the loss of the partner I feel so dramatically, no one to unzip my zipper, still buying too much food, no one there to talk to about my day at work or things the kids have done. I am realizing that the loneliness is more about the loss of a partner than about being by myself. I am ok with being alone, enjoy the weekends where I don’t leave the house. But after reading this I realize that I have to go out, make friends and try to live out in the world alone, not just live in my house without a partner. Still I don’t want another relationship, I love my husband & meant evey word of my vows. This article helpede realize that it is ok to have a relationship while realizing that it won’t ever be what I had with him. And to stop the mindless sex I have had with a few people.,..it is not satisfying to either my soul or my body. Because is that I have labeled myself the

    Slut. Ok to stop that and wait for a real relationship to have sex again….ironic that I have to give myself permission to stop the loveless sex..,,thanks for the article and the chance to unburden myself in these comments,

  21. Anandarupa says:

    Thank you for your posts they are so very real. I'm 38 and coming out of a 11 year marriage with 2 daughters. I'm thankful that I have the tools of Yoga to help me through and it is painfully through one day at a time. I left for the same reasons you did. I have it seems worked my way through the first few points already….although I'm trying to find peace with the 'first' relationship I've had since the separation. You put it perfectly that it's as intense as your first love. Luckily it allowed me to completely explore myself sexually with a wonderful man who I felt safe with. Your article has given me a direction of peace to allow me to put this experience to 'rest' while I take the lessons gratefully with me. Thank you, I do so love and resonate with what you say, in all of your posts xx Hari Aum Tat Sat xx

  22. lovelylover says:

    Thank you so much! I needed this reminder of things I should do and things I never thought to do but am willing to try. I felt as if you were speaking to me directly. Your words resonated with me loudly and clearly. I am going to challenge myself to do some of these things that I have never done because of fear.

  23. julie says:

    Thank you Rebecca for this amazing article and for helping so many facing divorce. I am also in the middle of leaving my husband and I felt like I was reading my own journal. Healthy, healthy healthy advice – thank you.

  24. Arlette says:

    Wow! I am right on track… Thank you! A little out of your order….starting 4 and 5 now. Done or doing the rest. Feeling stronger everyday. :)

  25. Beau says:

    This is for guys too…just not the rabbit part.

  26. Chris Krash says:

    1. Have Sex.-That's very easy to do when you are an attractive young woman. Not so easy for a 47 year old man Yet, I don't want to be a man-hoe.

    My wife of 19 years cheated on me. So, my loneliness continues after one year. Realistically, I miss the hugs and cuddles more than sex.

  27. Amy E says:

    Great advice! Check and check. Spot on.

  28. Jennifer says:

    This is kind of awesome and well put my friend! All true!

    I liken my divorce to this: being thrown into the ocean without arms. I thought I had to grow them back but you know what I realized instead? I am a glorious, beautiful, sexy mermaid. I love my life now. Thanks for the words.

    Xojen.

  29. Wildflower802 says:

    Reading this I felt as though you were describing the last year and a half of my life in general terms. I have been seperated for that long and have done all those things almost in that exact order. However four months ago I made what is proving to be a fatal error by trying to reconnect with my husband. This has not only set me back and destroyed all the work I had done but has put me in a lower place than I was when we first seprated.
    There is a part of me that just doesn't want to start all over again. I have been struggling to recover the woman I had finally discovered and fell in love with. I want the life I had back. Unfortunately, for reasons beyond my conprehension, I cannot seem to let him go again. I start school in the fall on a scholarship I earned while I was doing well. I hope this will jumpstart me back on the wonderful journey I was on. Thank you for the article Rebecca. I hope that I can get back on the path maybe not as far along as I was but at least back on the right path.

  30. karen says:

    Great article. Right on track. 55 and a 30 year marriage. I have my own back now. It's eye opening. I know from the outside, people are blown away by my strength. Me too honestly.

  31. Kimberly says:

    This is so spot on! I am deeply entrenched in the falling in love with myself phase and it is amazing. I had the relationship after divorce and learned so much. I am getting great guidance and help with past trauma from my life coach. I love going out alone and engaging with the whole room not just the one person across from me. I look forward to having a healthy and loving relationship but am in no rush as I know this time is sacred. Thank you for writing this. I am not alone.

  32. Anon says:

    I wish men and women would stop giving away something so special, as the sexual meaning of their body whether within a relationship or not. I can understand and certainly feel compassion for those that go down this road after so many years of marriage dissolve because of one or the other's selfish untrue love; self seeking rather than self giving. The burning desire for intimacy only grows stronger after heartbreak and remaining abstinent is a rewarding yet deeply challenging choice. It opens a very spiritual experience to self discovery, self love and ultimately a truly satisfying intimacy.

  33. blonde_b says:

    It feels nice to know I'm not alone! I agree 100% and am well on my way to finding the real me. I'm stoked and nervous and freaking excited!

  34. Anabel says:

    Hi I was curious, does anyone have any suggestions for dating a widowed man, it's been 7 years for him, and it seems he still has not gotten over his loss, I am trying so hard to be positive and love him, and he says he loves me, but deep down I feel I am being shared with this woman, and it makes me feel angry that I won't be able to ever have his heart fully. I know it sounds selfish but I feel so sad and I think it won't ever go away!

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