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Divorce Recovery and Your Next Committed Relationship: To Want or To Require? That is the Question

This article answers the question, “How can I make my next long-term, committed relationship be successful?” How many times have we asked ourselves this? How many times have we come up empty? The good news is we can figure it out. The secret lies in the answers to this question: What are the specific things you must have in a relationship, or else it will die? Our culture is quick to answer this question for us, “Just listen to your heart.” However, divorce courts are littered with thousands upon thousands of couples who took that advice. So, what is an alternative approach that will give you confidence when searching for your next committed relationship?

The Track Record for “Listening to Your Heart” Is Terrible

We are told to “just listen to your heart” in order to find “true love.” However, regardless of how careful we “listen,” 42% of first marriages, 66% of second marriages, and 75% of third marriages end in divorce, check out Divorce Answers recommendations here.

Logically, we would expect the divorce percentages to go down rather than up with each successive marriage. However, the percentages go up, not down. Why is this? The most probable reason is that we do not learn from our past experience with divorce, and choose a new relationship using the same criteria we used before in our failed relationships.

Requirements: What People Logically Need to Make Their Relationship Successful

Any successful relationship must meet the specific requirements of both partners if it is to survive and thrive over time. This is the primary goal of the Pre-Commitment1 stage of relationship development.

If listening to our heart is incomplete, what are we supposed to listen to in addition to our heart? Our head! You must choose a mate who not only stirs your heart but who also can give you what you need. Hence, it is your responsibility (1) to logically figure out what you require in a relationship, and (2) have the courage and discipline to adhere to your requirements when searching for a new partner.

As defined by David Steele, a Requirement2 is a “non-negotiable event or thing required for a relationship to work for you.” It is a characteristic of a relationship that is absolutely necessary for the relationship to survive. By definition, the relationship will die without it.

Steele uses the metaphor of air and water to describe relationship requirements. Humans require both air and water to live. Having one but not the other will lead to certain death. Relationship requirements have the same quality of needing all your requirements met if the relationship is to last. That is, if you have five requirements for a relationship and only four are met, the relationship will die, sooner or later, one way or another, if it is truly a requirement.

Problems arise when we confuse what we “require” with what we “want.”

Wants: Nice to Have but Not Necessary for the Survival of the Relationship

Wants3 are “objects and activities that provide stimulation, fun, and pleasure.” They are characteristics of a relationship that are desirable, but not necessary for the relationship to last and be successful.

A want is like having a dessert after a meal. It tastes good and makes the meal more pleasurable, however you will not die if you do not have one. Wants, likewise, add fun and pleasure to our relationship, but will not threaten the relationship if not met.

Requirement vs. Want: Why Is the Distinction So Important?

Many relationship problems can be traced to getting wants and requirements confused.

So why is the distinction important? The answer has to do with avoiding two types of mistakes:

  1. Ending a good relationship that you should keep by treating an unmet want as an unmet requirement, or
  2. Keeping a disaster-prone relationship that should be ended by treating an unmet requirement as an unmet want.

One Woman’s Close Call

A client of mine had been dating a man for nine years. He wanted to get married, but she was hesitant. She wanted to have an emotionally intimate relationship with her partner in which they could freely disclose their deepest feelings to each other, but he refused. Periodically, she asked him to talk about his feelings. He declined. Again and again over the nine years they were together she pleaded with him to express his emotions to her. He claimed his father did not talk about his emotions and neither would he.

Everything else about him and their relationship was wonderful. He finally wore her down to the point that she concluded, even though it would be nice to have a partner who would open up about his feelings, she could live without it since everything else about the relationship was so great. She chalked it up to “that’s just how men are” and started planning their wedding.

Then six weeks before the ceremony, while on an innocent night out with her girlfriends, she met a guy playing pool. They struck up a conversation and it hit her like a bolt of lightning out of the blue. He was actually talking about his feelings! He not only was willing to share his feelings, but he genuinely enjoyed disclosing his emotions to her. They talked for hours until closing time.

Out the window went her rationalization that “that’s just how men are” and into her life came the dilemma of what the hell do I do now with a wedding looming on the horizon?

Two weeks before her wedding she realized that desiring to have a marriage with someone who would share his feelings was not just some nice-to-have want, but was in fact a full-blown, non-negotiable requirement. Fortunately, she had the courage to break off the relationship before it became a legal as well as even more of an emotional mess.

What was the key to her knowing that her desire for a spouse who would talk about his feelings was a requirement not a want? She asked herself the question, “Now that I know that men can talk about their feelings, will the relationship eventually die if he continues to refuse to do it?” She reluctantly answered “Yes.”  It was a requirement for her, and not just another want.”

So, What’s the Point?

Finding a good relationship requires both chemistry and brains.

While chemistry speaks from the heart, requirements rule from the head. Both must be heeded if the relationship is to pass the test of time.

A persistent problem is that our culture gives us bad advice. It tells us that “true love” should not require any brain power. Such thinking sinks over 66% of all re-marriages.

So, your challenge is to listen to your heart, think with your head, and ignore your friends and family who tell you that you are “over-thinking” it and risking losing a great partner.

________________

1 David Steele, Conscious Dating (Campbell, CA: RCN Press, 2008), p. 301-320.

2 Ibid., p 337.

3 Ibid., p. 301-320.

Divorce Recovery & the Post-Divorce Relationship with Your Ex: Why Can’t We Just Be Friends?

By Jerald Young, Ph.D.

This article answers the question, “Why is it so difficult to remain friends with your ex?” At some point in the divorcing process many partners ask, “Can’t we just be friends?” Many experts hold this friendship up as the ideal relationship for ex-spouses. They say it would be good for your children. At first blush it seems like such a noble goal. So why is it so rarely successful? Why is it so difficult to pull off? The answer lies in the traumatic losses experienced in the divorce and the near impossibility of pretending the relationship surgery is healed while, in actuality, it still is laying exposed and bleeding on the operating table.

This Wasn’t On Starbucks’ Menu

Soon after he got divorced, a client of mine related a story about his ex wanting to remain friends. She asked to meet him at a local Starbucks. He was hesitant to meet because she had been very upset that he wanted the divorce. But he agreed to the meeting primarily because he did not want his ex telling their two grown children he was being a jerk. After ten or fifteen minutes of civil chit chat, she turned to him, stared him straight in his eyes, and screamed at the top of her lungs for everyone in the establishment to hear, “Does your whore of a girlfriend like your penis?!”

Needless to say, a post-divorce friendship was not in the cards for the two of them. But it dramatizes the difficulty of trying to return to the low-emotion relationship of friendship after losing the high-emotion relationship of a 20-year marriage.

What We Are Told about “Remaining Friends” after Divorce Is at Odds with What We See

Everywhere you look you can find therapists and self-help authors extolling the virtues of remaining friends after divorce. Also, everywhere you look you are hard pressed to find any ex-spouses who actually have remained friends after their divorce.

Terry Gaspard provides some insight in her January 7, 2020, article in DivorceMagazine.com, “7 Reasons Why Being Friends With Your Ex Usually Doesn’t Work,” in which she identifies seven problems with remaining friends after your divorce:

  • Most of the time, a post-breakup friendship is a setup for further heartbreak.
  • It does not give you or your ex time to grieve the loss of the relationship or marriage.
  • You need to forge a new identity.
  • It can cause confusion for your children.
  • You might not have been true friends and it’s problematic to start now.
  • You need energy to “take care of yourself.”
  • Acceptance is the final stage of grieving the loss of a loved one.

OK, so there are problems with it. We still don’t know why it is so rare. The answer may lie in how friendships are developed.

Friendship by Addition – Friendship Based on Hope

When we speak of friendship, we normally are referring to a relationship that grows step by step over time by two people who hope to establish a non-intimate connection which will enrich their lives, learn how at Divorce Answers.

How we normally “grow” a friendship, is by meeting people with whom we have something in common, and then by continuing to spend time with each other as we find more things in common, find more ways we can validate who we are, and find more ways to develop agreement about the social situations we share. The process takes place over time in which we add to and solidify our commonalities and our shared interpretations of the social environment we share. It is a process of adding piece by piece over time with the result that the friendship deepens as we add each piece to the growing whole.

Summarizing the benefits of friendship, friends get to:

  1. SHARE COMMON INTERESTS with their friend,
  2. VALIDATE COMMON BELIEFS AND OUTLOOKS ON LIFE with their friend,
  3. Help each other come to a consensus about the MEANING OF THE SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT which they share, and
  4. Assist each other in developing a more accurate “SENSE OF SELF” with their friend.

Friendship by Subtraction – Friendship Based on Loss

Most marriages start out as normal friendships with the initial foundation of their relationship being the same as regular friends.

Like normal friendships, they share common interests, validate each other’s beliefs, and outlooks on life. They come to a consensus between the two of them about the meaning of their shared social environment and give interpersonal feedback that helps each other integrate their identity within their common social context.

When a divorced couple wants to remain friends, their initial friendship remains intact. They share the same benefits of a typical friendship that include:

  1. They get to maintain their right to SHARE COMMON INTERESTS with their ex,
  2. They get to maintain their right to VALIDATE COMMON BELIEFS AND OUTLOOKS ON LIFE with their ex,
  3. They get to maintain their right to help each other come to a consensus about the MEANING OF THE SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT which they share with their ex, and
  4. They get to assist each other in developing a more accurate “SENSE OF SELF” with their ex.

However, here is where things get messy. Regular friendships start from scratch and add positive brick by positive brick to the friendship’s foundation. However, for ex’s to “remain friends” after their divorce, they must give up, or subtract away, many aspects of their marriage they held dear until they got divorced. These losses are a painful reminder of what they used to have when married. Becoming friends with your ex becomes an exercise in acknowledging one loss after another after another. These losses include:

  1. Spouses lose the right to have SEX with their ex.
  2. Spouses lose the right to affirm the SEXUAL ATTRACTIVENESS of their ex.
  3. Spouses lose the right to have INTIMATE PHYSICAL BEHAVIOR with their ex.
  4. Spouses lose the right to have INTIMATE EMOTIONAL BEHAVIOR with their ex.
  5. Spouses lose the right to have highly INTIMATE CONVERSATIONS with their ex
  6. Spouses lose the right to have unlimited PHYSICAL ACCESS with their ex.
  7. Spouses lose the right to have unlimited EMOTIONAL ACCESS with their ex.
  8. Spouses lose the right to DISCLOSE PRIVATE BELIEFS AND THOUGHTS to their ex.
  9. Spouses lose the right to DISCLOSE THEIR DEEPEST HOPES & FEARS to their ex.
  10. Spouses lose the expectation to FULLY TRUST their ex.
  11. Spouses lose the right to enjoy very few PERSONAL BOUNDARIES with their ex.
  12. Spouses lose the right to EXPRESS THEIR LOVE in an intimate way.
  13. Spouses lose the right to have a full RANGE OF EMOTIONAL EXPRESSION with their ex, both positive and negative.

Normal Friendship versus Post-Divorce Friendship

While a normal friendship consists of adding one positive experience after another as the friendship grows, remaining friends after divorce requires acknowledging that major surgery was undertaken to cut out the heart of the marital relationship, leaving only the friendship to survive.

In terms of the list of relationship benefits listed above, wanting to remain friends with your ex means you keep the first four items in the list (items 1 through 4) while acknowledging the loss of the other thirteen benefits (items 5 through 17).

Forcing your ex, as well as yourself, to regularly live with the memory of the heart wrenching losses suffered in the divorce simply to maintain a “normal” friendship seems difficult at best and self-indulgent and selfish at worst. No wonder it happens so infrequently.

So, What’s the Point?

The harsh reality is the relationship is dead and gone. The divorce is final, or soon will be. Now is the time to invest your energy in recovering from the traumatic event you just went through and in getting prepared for the next chapter in your life.

Your ex can carry on without your friendship, and you can carry on without your ex’s friendship. In a nutshell, remaining friends with your ex is too much, too soon, and too hard. Let sending your goodwill to each other be enough and lay your friendship fantasies to rest.

 

Divorce Recovery and Early Dating: When Is It OK to Start Dating Again?

Jerald Young, Ph.D.

This article answers the question, “When is it OK to start dating again?” Is the real question, “When is it OK to start dating again?” Or is it, “When can I start looking for my next long-term, committed relationship?” Beware! The second question often is disguised as the first one. Hint: Are you wanting to start dating to enjoy your freedom from the attachments of marriage or are you adding to your attachments to the past?

There is a lot of heat, but very little light generated by asking when we should resume dating. Some say wait a year. Some say asap in order to get over the divorce. Some say don’t date if the divorce is not final. Some say go for it if the marriage is over, regardless of whether the judge has signed the papers. Many religions say do not date until after the divorce is final. Everybody has an opinion. No one has a one-size-fits-all answer.

Early Dating  – What Is It and Is It a Good Thing?

Early dating can be a very powerful part of your recovery from divorce.

Early dating occurs when you start dating again either before the divorce is legally final or soon thereafter. Early dating is marked by huge amounts of “baggage” and attachments to your ex and the life you shared that have not been dissolved or eliminated yet.

Whether it is a “good” thing or a “bad” thing depends on what you want dating to achieve for you. Broadly speaking, if you are wanting to date to enjoy your new-found freedom from being attached to your ex, it can be most enjoyable. If on the other hand, you want to start dating to trigger a response from your ex or to placate your friends and relatives, it will end badly.

Some say you should wait until your marriage is over. Sounds good, but what does it actually mean for a marriage “to be over?”

When Exactly Is a Marriage Over?

Any marriage that is over is actually over long before it’s formally over.

A marriage is over the very instant one of the marriage partners looks in the mirror feeling calm, sober, well-rested, and introspective and declares privately to himself or herself, “I can’t do this anymore. I must get out.” This happens long before any judge declares a marriage officially over by signing the divorce papers.

It also sets the clock ticking for one’s making the decision to begin dating again. In the back of everyone’s mind is the question, “How can I be sure this is a good idea right now?”

One Says “Date” Another Says “Don’t Date” – Will They Please Make Up Their Damned Mind?

Don’t count on your friends and relatives to be much help.

When seeking advice, you should talk with people you can trust. The obvious choices are your friends and family. You assume they will have your best interests at heart. But do they? Can they? Probably not.

Friends and relatives are only human. Of necessity they filter their advice through their own experience, hopes, fears, and belief systems. The result? A jumbled mess of contradictory advice that reflects their fears and fantasies they would have if they were in your situation. In a word, it’s useless.

Bottom line: don’t pay much attention to what other people advise you to do. Their advice, well-intentioned as it is, is a statement of their agenda for you. Invariably, their agenda is different from your agenda.

Your job is to get clear on what your agenda and expectations are and to not sabotage them by trying to move the relationship development process along too fast.

Three Early Dating Rules to Live By

Early dating doesn’t exist without some potential problems, especially impatience.

The 12 to 18 months before and after the divorce is final are sacred! Treat them as a gift from the relationship gods. The goal of this transition time is to reestablish balance, personal power, perspective, self-love, and stability back into your life.

What is important is not what you do, but what you don’t  do. Three “rules” will help you make your early dating experience a success.

Rule #1: Slow Things Waaaaaay Down: For the first  6 months of dating, restrict what you plan and talk about with your partner to no more than 7 days into the future. For the next 6 months, restrict what you plan and talk about with your partner to no more than 30 days into the future.

Now is not the time to envision living “happily ever after” with anyone. It is the time to get reacquainted with yourself and to enjoy your new freedom.

Rule #2: Do NOT Sign Anything for 12 to 18 Months: Jimeno & Gray, P.A. says not to sign any legal or financial documents with your partner for at least 18 months. No marriage licenses, no car titles, no loan applications, no house mortgages, no joint checking accounts, NO ANYTHING! You will have the rest of your life to that after the shock and readjustments to your life after divorce have worn off . Just do not do it in the first 18 months after your divorce is final.

Rule #3: Don’t Get Pregnant Yet: Do not get pregnant or get your partner pregnant. Just don’t do it. Now is not the time to start a new family. Having a child will not miraculously give your life meaning after divorce. It will seriously destroy your efforts to reestablish balance, personal power, perspective, self-love, and stability back into your life.

So, What’s the Point?

There is never a good time to start dating for bad reasons.

Asking “When should I start dating again?” is the wrong question. The more helpful question is, “Why do I want to start dating again?”

Are you dating to enjoy your new-found freedom from the attachments of being coupled, OR are you feeding and strengthening your attachments to the past?

Early dating enables you to begin the transition from being coupled and married to being uncoupled and single, NOT recoupled and married. Early dating is not a vehicle for finding your next committed relationship.

(Now a word from your attorney: The last question to ask before beginning to date again is whether your attorney thinks dating at this time will compromise your divorce case. Obviously, if it will then honor your attorney’s advice and hold off until it is safe to do so.)

This is the time in your life to enjoy having “slipped the surly bonds of an unhappy marriage.” Use it to enjoy your first step into your life after divorce. If you already moved on and ready for a new relationship, join Arab Lounge, one of the best free dating sites today!

However if you’re in Brooklyn, there are several sites like Mvpescorts.com that features escort options, from companionship to dinner dates, travel companions, wild bachelor parties, unforgettable birthday bashes, and so much more. What are you waiting for? Pick your bet from these fabulous female escorts and book her now!

If you’re a man who basically aims to get over everything that had happened with your ex wife, you may want to at least escape the place where you’re staying and consider visiting Vegas to try to experience being with somebody else with your collaboration of some trusted escorts services like Las Vegas strippers to make your stay in Vegas a very memorable one.

 

Divorce Recovery & Bad Decisions: Will the 4 Traps Set by Resistance to Change Ruin Your Future?

By Jerald Young, Ph.D. This article answers the question: “What are the real-world consequences of failing to eliminate your post-divorce resistance to change?” The term “resistance to change” sounds like an airy-fairy theory that has no use the common-sense based real world. This is not true. This article shows how a failure to dissolve divorce-created …
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Divorce Transition Success: 7 Tips for How to Make a Smooth Transition from Divorce

Making a transition from divorce is hard. The good news is YOU CAN DO IT. In fact, with some focused effort and a little help from your friends, you can make your divorce transition faster than you ever thought possible.

When I first got divorced, I was at a loss for how to handle it. I thought no one else had felt the shock and shame I felt. Nor did I realize I possessed the necessary personal resources to get through the transition process. I thought I had to make my “comeback” alone if I were to feel good about myself.

I knew I was afraid of venturing into an unknown future but I had no idea how to deal with it – especially the emotion-based reactions I was having. Nor did I realize the importance of dealing with all the hopes and dreams I had lost. In a nutshell, I was a basket case roaming free on an unsuspecting society.

Had I only known that what I was going through was similar to what millions of others had gone through – and the key to a successful transition from divorce had certain steps and phases that had to be walked through.

The following seven tips highlight what I did not know then, and describe what needs to be done in order to thrive in sculpting your next chapter of “life after divorce.”

Tip #1: You’re not unusual – You are not alone

Statistically, there are a lot of us. 40% of first marriages and 60% of all remarriages eventually end in divorce. Emotionally, everyone is pretty much in the same boat. Ambivalence rules the day. Roller coasters are the preferred method of emotional transport. Realistically, anyone you know whose has gone through, or is going through a divorce, can identify with the reactions you are having. You are not alone.

Tip #2: You can make a successful transition from divorce – because you have done it before

You say you haven’t been divorced before? Doesn’t matter. All transitions force us to go through the same process of change – whether it is losing a job, getting married, starting a family, death of a loved one. Whatever. What we’ve learned from these life experiences we can apply to making it through our current transition through divorce.

Tip #3: You already possess all the personal resources necessary to make a successful transition from divorce

Confidence, a sense of direction, and hope seem to be the first to go when making a divorce transition. But, not to worry. You have the ability to deal with it. More specifically, we gain confidence from successfully navigating past major life transitions where we:

  • Find stability of direction from our unique set of personal principles,
  • Obtain courage to press on from our personal sources of hope, and
  • Obtain reassurance that we are on the right track through a sense of gratitude for the good present in the current situation.

Tip #4: You need to recruit at least one “change buddy” for social support and feedback

We need to find people (or at least one person) we can lean on for emotional support and count on for objective feedback while we make our transition from divorce. These folks must have two important characteristics. They must have no personal agenda and they must be able to be honest with you. Only then can you count on their feedback as being objective.

Tip #5: You can and must dissolve the massive resistance to change that comes with divorce

Fear, loss, and uncertainty about what to do next sabotage our efforts to make a victorious transition from divorce. However:

  • We can handle our fear of the unknown future if we have a plan,
  • We can let go of how things used to be — even the good stuff — when we realize there is even more good stuff in the next chapter of our life after divorce, and
  • We can resolve our rational reservations for making a transition with old-fashioned problem solving.

Tip #6: You can and must use what you have learned from going through the divorce process to make your transition successful

Only by using your experience to clarify your future requirements, needs, and wants for our life after divorce, can you capitalize on the great opportunity divorce offers.

Tip #7: You must lay the groundwork for the many changes that will occur in order to make a successful divorce transition

Divorce brings change in our relationships, our health, our financial situation, and our opportunities for creativity and self expression. A successful divorce transition demands that we attend to and plan for this wide range of changes in order to fully and joyously embrace the next chapter in our life after divorce.

Celebrating divorce? Doesn’t mean you’re over it.

There’s a popular term in our culture today: “closure”.

Well-meaning friends may decide that a clever cake, some beers with the boys, or an indulgent vacation will help a friend achieve “closure” after a divorce. And all too often, we tend to think that a new relationship or another marriage signifies that someone is “definitely over it!”

But here’s the real truth: A judge’s signature on a piece of paper doesn’t erase our hopes and dreams for what we wanted in marriage. We mistakenly assume that we’ll shed the past, much like a snake sheds its skin, and get on with life without looking back.

However, it just doesn’t work that way.

That’s why the first stage in the Smooth Divorce Recovery Program is called Stabilize the Present.  At the very beginning, I work with clients to sort out their real losses from the perceived losses and get a clear picture of their situation, identify their personal resources for this transition in their life, and assess just how much they’re accepting the transition of divorce. Whether someone is recently divorced or still carrying the wounds from a relationship that ended ten years ago, the Divorce Recovery Stress Indicator helps identify their barriers to enjoying life after divorce.

I won’t deny there’s real value in having a strong support system, and a rich slice of cake can make anyone feel better about a failed relationship — in the moment. But in the long run, a successful recovery from divorce takes highly focused action. Which ultimately makes the beer, the indulgent vacation or the clever cake all that much sweeter.