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Life After Divorce – Do you feel Worthy of Love?

Broken Glass at Work-6

Broken Glass at Work-6 (Photo credit: akeg)

As in all my blog posts, I have changed a few details and left some things vague to protect the identity of others.  If you think I’m blogging about you, I’m probably not!  There is a lot to my personal life that I don’t share on this blog or with anyone.  I’ll just let that be a mystery to everyone but me.

A man I was casually dating made a comment that stuck in my brain a few months ago.  He is dealing with his own major breakup, one that I suspect also has elements of fraud.  He lamented that one of his other lovers might be falling in love with him to which I responded, “Well you have nothing to worry about with me, I’m not.” and then he bemoaned “Why not?  Am I not loveable?” and I thought, “No it’s because you have multiple lovers, why would I bother investing in you.”  I knew enough to not get too attached to him, but my heart broke a bit for both of us when he said it.

His comment haunted me.  Not because I was really in love with him, but because on a very primal level I feel that way about myself.  Even though I don’t want to admit it, and I try to suppress it, I still feel – I am not worthy of love.  My actions only feed the beast of self-doubt and insecurity.  For whatever reason since leaving my husband, I have fallen into a pattern of dating men who aren’t really there.

Most of my partners are deeply in love with someone else, and it’s extremely painful to go through this again and again. It just supports my fears of not being good enough, maybe if I was younger, taller, thinner, made more money, had a more traditional job, didn’t write this blog, lived in a better neighborhood….someone would cling to the hope that I might return their devotion. I almost feel like these women have something magical about them that makes men become obsessed, or maybe they are masters of manipulation.  It doesn’t really matter, as I seem to have the opposite qualities.

There was the intellectual who secretly pined away for the woman who broke up his marriage.  He was beyond emotionally distant with me and I found out the truth through basic cyber sleuthing.  Then there was the man I met online who was also a straight spouse, who was still madly in love with his now openly lesbian wife.  He basically vanished after an intense date with me.  Another man who cursed his cruel and manipulative former spouse yet also openly worshiped and praised her for her beauty.  Even during my most intense post-divorce affair, my boyfriend would openly talk about a woman who had dropped him unceremoniously.  I resembled her so much we could have been sisters, yet she was the one who still had his heart.

In all of these relationships, I am never enough.  My body is always used as some sort of band-aid until they can get their true love back, and so far none of them have succeeded. Why do they get so hung up on women they can’t have?  And why do I keep falling into this pattern?

Do I feel that I am not worthy of love?  I think deep down I must.  I try every day to quiet these monsters in my head who reinforce this.  The number one question I’m asked since my breakup with my husband is, “Is he seeing anyone?” and I always respond with “Hell if I know, it’s not my business.”  I honestly don’t want to find out.  One of the tragedies of mixed orientation marriages is that although these splits are quite hard on both spouses, one half deals with a deep betrayal.  The betrayal erodes self-confidence and trust, so we are left somewhat shattered at the end of it.  Many straight spouses have problems forming bonds and relationships post-divorce.  We are so damaged we can’t have anything but superficial connections.

Am I unworthy of a loving relationship?  I don’t think so, but why can’t I make anything work? Why do I waste my time on lost causes?  Why do I run from nearly every possible scenario that might lead to a stability?  How can I lie down next to a person and feel absolutely nothing?  Why do I become fixated on men who don’t really want me?

My relationships aren’t real, they are just slivers of human connection that I build up in my mind.  I’m stuck in this horrible repetition that doesn’t seem to end. Things have improved. At least I know I have a problem with this.  I no longer kid myself that is always the man’s problem.  It’s my problem, as I’m the one wasting time on them.  Over four years and I’m still trapped by these circumstances.  I focus on what I have – amazing friends, a loving family, and my health.  I hope I won’t become one of the permanently single.  I don’t want to live alone for the rest of my life. This will not always be the new normal. I am worthy of a loving relationship.  With the exception of a few demented souls or sociopathic personalities we are all worthy of a loving relationship.  I’ve got to break this cycle…I’m just not sure yet how to do it.  I know I’m broken, I just have no idea how to fix myself.

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Dating in NYC: Texting – Dating with as little effort as possible

SMS: Text Messaging Gets Redesigned

SMS: Text Messaging Gets Redesigned (Photo credit: pouwerkerk)

Someone recently said I should write a piece about the type of man that I wanted to date.  At this point, I have honestly completely given up any specifics.  Sure, I tend to like tall lanky men who look like they could use a sandwich or two, but honestly I am not that specific.  I don’t date fellow comedians for obvious reasons and I would prefer someone close to my age.  But when asked, without thinking I wrote simply, someone who follows through on a date and returns text messages.  That’s it.  Just show up and acknowledge my existence.  That’s all I’m really asking for, but it seems next to impossible.  I have had this problem with most of the guys I have attempted to date, even causally date.  They repeatedly cancel on me at the last-minute but then won’t bother to reply to the least committal text messages.

I have a joke in my stand up that once men figured out they could rely on text messages – all phone conversations between men and women would cease forever.  Which is sadly pretty much true.  I don’t call anyone often besides family members.  The telephone is just too personal and it takes too long.  Texting is so much easier.  The problem of course is that a lot is lost in non-verbal communication.  Most of the times my sarcasm is misunderstood.  Or when I am being serious people think I’m joking.   Recently I sent something along the lines of “You should learn how to fellate yourself.”  The man who received this message thought I was kidding.  I did add that he should take some yoga classes, as well as a sword swallowing session or two to help him in that task.  To be honest I was half joking.  What I really meant is that I was not going to fellate him, and he could basically go fuck himself.  He thought I was flirting, until I pointed out that it would be kind of gay for him to give himself oral sex.  He might be sucking his own dick, but he would still be sucking dick.

The recipient can also not really understand tone.  Most men tend to take me way too seriously in that I tend to write in a very blunt manner.   They sometimes think I am upset, when I’m not.  I once sent a “I’m disappointed” type of message to a man who thought I was basically screaming at him, when in reality I was calm and not even remotely angry.  I was in fact, disappointed, not a raving lunatic.

Then there are the guys who don’t realize I am mad, no matter what I send them.  It is almost as if I have to type profanity repeatedly in order to get my point across.  A few fucks, motherfuckers, and are you fucking kidding me?  Texting might be quicker, but the communication has certainly gotten worse.  The abuse of the English language is at an all time high and some misspellings are so poor that I have no idea what the person was trying to say.  Textspeak causes me to physically cringe, especially since now we have little keyboards on our phones and texting is much easier.  My favorite subsitution was “KK” for “OK” I couldn’t help but think, it’s still two letters – have we gotten that lazy?  Text language has gotten so bad, that I honestly think words could one day be replaced with symbols or actual photographs.  We will simply get a photo of a penis, then a vagina, then a home followed by a question mark. We will move on to a form of sexting and hieroglyphics.  When someone sends me a message like “U R Hot? Lol.  Do U want 2 C me 2night?”  I just want to scold them, not get it on.

I can’t help but think if I was someone they wanted more, they would at least return a simple “What’s up?”  My new strategy is to send them nothing.  I try as much as possible to avoid starting a text messaging thread.  I just can’t handle the silence on the other end.  Sure they might be working, or in a situation where they can’t answer a text, but in my mind I picture them looking at their phone, sighing and then debating if they should even answer me.

There are times I almost want to call a man when they send a text.  Not to actually speak, but to scare the crap out of them.  How could they claim they didn’t get my call when they just sent me a text message?  They could say they aren’t in a good position to call me back, but most of the time they can’t think of a decent lie to get out of it.  I just get voicemail, and then I delete them from my phone.  🙂

Of course I can’t help but wonder if they really wanted to see me would they call me?  Would they answer text messages back quickly?  Or is this all part of the disposable culture of constantly having new potential partners.  Why bother with the woman who is blunt when i can find one that won’t challenge me.  I don’t know, but I am waiting for my pictogram cock shot any day now.

Divorce: When One Half Wants Out

Divorce Cakes a_005

Divorce Cakes a_005 (Photo credit: DrJohnBullas)

Someone told me a story about a woman who refused to admit that her marriage was over.  It was before the “no fault” divorce laws in New York state.  She decided to legally contest her husband‘s petition of divorce.  The woman felt that her husband had no right to leave her.   In her mind shhe had been a good and loyal wife, and he had no right to end the marriage.  She was also Catholic and believed that divorce was immoral and a sin against God.  A few years later, after spending a small fortune on legal fees and lawyers a judge agreed with her.  The court denied her husband’s petition for divorce.  Even though they were physically separated and no longer a couple they remained legally married.  Desperate, her husband moved to New Jersey with his new girlfriend and started the process all over again.  They couple is now divorced.  As much as my heart goes out to the woman, she should have just let him go.

A failed marriage is kind of like our own personal fairy tale but with a horrible twisted bad ending – one we never would have expected.  Most marriages end when one half of a partnership wants out, not with both sides sitting down and coming to a mutually agreed upon separation.  Sure, those amicable divorces are out there, and some couples have literally tried everything to make their marriages work before they decide to end things.  But since I started writing about divorce I have gotten an avalanche of stories from readers about their own divorce related battles.  In most situations, one side simply wants out of the marriage while the other spouse fights desperately to keep things together.  In some cases the spouse who wants to remain married is simply crushed by the split.  It might take two people to get married, but it only takes one to force a divorce.  Not every marriage falls apart due to constant fighting, any number of things can lead to a divorce:

  • Rampant infidelity – sex with multiple partners over the course of the marriage behind their spouses back
  • Falling in love with a new partner
  • Midlife crisis – suddenly they want to completely rebuild their life – including their spouse
  • Substance abuse – spouse refuses to seek treatment
  • Untreated mental illness – spouse refuses to seek treatment
  • Massive deception – leading secret life
  • Fraud – married for a green card, inheritance, money, etc.
  • Closeted homosexual – married to have “normal” life

What is tragic is that I have met so many men and women who are not accepting that it’s over.  What they tend to say repeatedly are things like:

  • I don’t want to give up on this marriage
  • I grew up in a broken home and I vowed to never let this happen to me
  • I thought if I just worked hard enough that I could avoid divorce
  • How can he/she do this to our family? – It’s not fair

Relationships involve two people, and no one can control the behavior of another human being.  If your spouse wants out, there is not much you can do about it.  We all think if we just sacrifice enough, give up more and more of our happiness we can make it work.  I put up with an emotionally distant man in a celibate marriage because I refused to give up on my vows.  I believed in the sanctity in marriage and believed with all my heart that if I loved him enough and gave up my own hopes and dreams for his, that we would be together forever.  Somehow along the way I missed the point that the marriage was not the source of my happiness.  Just being with another human being does not always give the greatest fulfillment or joy.  I know this now because four years after leaving my husband I am much better off emotionally than I was for the last few years of my marriage.  Unwittingly we buy into the hype that romantic love is the greatest thing in the world to achieve, when I would argue it’s not.

Life isn’t fair for many of us.  Time and time again I have heard stories of one partner horribly betrayed by another.  We didn’t sign up for this.  We didn’t stand in front of our families and vow to give up on our version of a happy ending.  One of the most difficult realities to face as an adult is the willingness to admit we are powerless in certain situations.  No matter how hard we work, we cannot fix something that cannot be mended.

It’s awful and the pain is real and devastating, but just because that our original dream didn’t work out, it doesn’t mean we can’t find a new one.  If your partner wants out and you have tried everything to make it work – let them go.  They might have a change of heart and realize their mistake, but do you really want someone who left you in the first place?  No one is perfect.  There is no single human being on this planet who can complete another.  Even if they are the parent to your children, and even if you thought your life would work out differently.  As hard as it is when our marriages fall apart, we have to forget about the life we envisioned married to our spouse.   We have to instead learn to cherish and love our new reality.  It will get better, every day, week, month and year…just hang in there. 🙂

Divorce: The Emotional Vampires

Little vampire

Little vampire (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am adding the following disclaimer to all of my dating related blog posts.  I change details, and create composite characters when I write about dating archetypes such as “Mr. Houdini, Mr. Angry, etc.  I would hate it if someone wrote about a high energy blonde comedian negatively in a blog, so because of that I never include a person’s occupation or anything about their physical description.  I also change enough details that I doubt anyone I am referring to would even recognize themselves if they read one of my articles.   I have split one person into three, or taken several examples and put them all into one example.  So simply put, I am very ethical on this blog. 

I just wrote a piece about emotional predators.  People who are just out for themselves and spend their time manipulating and  exploiting others.  The far more evil version of emotional predators is the emotional vampire.  The difference being a vampire will suck you dry until there is nothing left.  Most emotional vampires would probably be diagnosed sociopaths or borderline personality disorder.  They are extremely rare, but extremely dangerous.  Other human beings mean nothing to them, we are all a means to an end. What do they look like?

  • They sometimes resemble a younger version of the spouse
  • They are emotional and passionate, spontaneous and wild
  • They will say and do anything to get their prey.
  • Charismatic and extremely likeable
  • Masters of manipulation

Emotional Vampires are especially dangerous to a marriage.  The vampire decides your spouse is someone they want, and will do anything to be with them.  Your children, your marriage and even your spouses well-being and sanity are secondary.  The financial destruction that could also be in the wake of a broken marriage is also secondary.  The vampire wants what they want, and the rest of us had better not get in their way.   They use flattery, and passion as their main weapons.  They will tell your spouse he or she is the greatest thing on planet earth, that you don’t understand them, and that they were meant to be together.  A marriage which is already troubled or strained cannot sometimes weather these storms of infidelity.  The worst vampires don’t even care what happens after they get their prey.   They might destroy your marriage, win your spouse over and then drop their new conquest when the excitement is over.

My marriage imploded in part due to an emotional vampire.  In my case it was a man who set out to get financial and career advancement through my husband.  He actually did me a favor, because my husband was a closeted homosexual and finding out about this relationship gave me hard evidence to finally confront him and get out.  But in situations where all parties are straight or the same sexual orientation the aftermath is more difficult to navigate.  I know of marriages that have survived a someone who set out to destroy them.  In one case the marriage is stronger and children were born after the affair.  But in most cases the marriages crumble under the betrayal, lies and ongoing infidelity.  The emotional vampire becomes like a drug to the cheating spouse, and they will do anything to get that drug including destroying themselves in the process.

Because these people are so selfish, so single-minded and lack empathy they are difficult to fight back against.  If you can get your partner into counseling, if you can fight back hard enough through a mediator you might have hope.  The cheating spouse may wake up out of the fog and see the reality and havoc they are causing.  Or they may not, and then justify their self-destructive behavior.  And if you see someone like this hovering around your spouse, do not hesitate to see them for the snakes they are, and if you have any sway in the situation try to prevent them from sinking their claws into your husband or wife.  Never think you are immune to outside forces, no matter how strong you think your marriage.

Marriages are challenging as they are supposed to be life-long commitments.  And any relationship is going to evolve, grow and change throughout the years.  Sometimes the damage is beyond repair, sometimes the scars heal and the marriage is stronger for it.   That is usually the case only if both parties fight hard to keep it together.  One spouse cannot do it on their own.  If an emotional vampire decides that your spouse is what they desire, your marriage may not survive.  Your former partner however will then be stuck with a sociopathic selfish person who will most likely turn on them.   They will only want their new prize as long as it is exciting for them, or their achieved ambitions are met, be them professional or financial.

If this happens to your marriage take heart.  If you fight back with everything you have and still can’t keep your spouse, don’t beat yourself up on top of it.  We are all doing the best we can, and sometimes our best is not enough.  An emotional vampire might have done you a huge favor, in that they may have opened up your eyes to the person you have dedicated your life.   If your spouse is willing to destroy everything they have in life for this new person, and you do everything in your power to get them back, are the really worth it in the end?

Life After Divorce: Just Keep it Simple?

I Want a Divorce

I Want a Divorce (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am adding the following disclaimer to all of my dating related blog posts.  I change details, and create composite characters when I write about dating archetypes such as “Mr. Houdini, Mr. Angry, etc.  I would hate it if someone wrote about a high energy blonde comedian negatively in a blog, so because of that I never include a person’s occupation or anything about their physical description.  I also change enough details that I doubt anyone I am referring to would even recognize themselves if they read one of my articles.   I have split one person into three, or taken several people and put them all into one example.  So simply put, I am very ethical on this blog.

Online dating profiles are a window into a person‘s soul.  Most profiles don’t really tell you that much about a person, but the usually tell you enough to know when to send an email and when to keep moving.  One such profile popped up as a match on my OKCupid.com profile.  The man was generally attractive, age appropriate and seemed obsessed with cycling.  But he also had one overwhelming theme that was repeated throughout and that was

“When it comes to life, I believe in keeping it simple”

He said this around four times, including in the

“You should message me if….you believe in keeping it simple when living life”.

I hate to say it, but that was the final straw for me and I decided not to message him.  Sure we can all keep things simple in that we try to hang out with people who love and support us and avoid self-destructive behavior but if my divorce has taught me anything it is life is hardly simple.  His obsession with this premise just made me think he might be shallow or dim witted, and since I have sat through some fairly painful dates with both shallow and dim witted men I decided against contacting him.

Human relationships are nuanced and full of many shades of gray.  Life is in fact quite complicated, not simple at all.  My relationship with my ex-husband is complex to say the least.  Up until June 21, 2009 I considered him my best friend, my closest confidant, and then in an instant found myself staring at a man I hardly knew.  A bond and trust like that can’t be immediately severed, instead it took months and years for it to morph and change from overwhelming feelings of anger and resentment to a now familiar attachment that is difficult to describe.  What has been actually more troubling are the other relationships I lost when my marriage fell apart.  People I thought were as close as family just drifted away without so much as any real condolences or understanding.  In fact from some of them criticized me for being too hard on my ex.  If they only knew the layers of sacrifice and burden I had to endure for much of my marriage, the deception and betrayal they would never dare say something so profoundly uninformed to me.

As I witnessed many of my friends also go through difficult and painful divorces I experienced the extremely complicated nature of human relationships.  Some of my friends sabotaged their marriages with blatant infidelity or with downright abandonment towards their spouses.  Do I cut those friends off because of the way they treated their marriages?  Or do I understand the relationship was between those two people, and only they understand the torment and struggle they were going through.  Other relationships simply fell apart due to the every day wear and tear we put each other through, and any couple who has been together more than a decade or more knows, sometimes two people simply do grow apart.  And of course I had friends who were subject to cruelty and betrayal on extreme levels from their spouses.  Some of the stories still cause me to tear up when I think about them.  Married for twenty years only to be thrown away for a newer model and to find out the betrayal stretched on for the entire duration of the marriage?  Again anyone in a long-term committed relationship knows how much two people can go through in that time span especially when they have children together.  And then what of the children?  Damaged by the failure of a marriage and scarred up from the feeling of abandonment by one or both of their parents.  Not to say that the children won’t heal and might be better off in a divorced situation rather than a toxic household, but divorce is traumatic for all parties involved.  Or how about instances when one spouse is horribly treated by another then has to manage a healthy co-parenting relationship after the fact for years.  Life is not always so simple, and human relationships are hardly simple.  In fact they are quite complicated, and anyone who has survived a difficult divorce knows this truth all too well.

Life After Divorce: Dealing with Loneliness

English: Lower Manhattan at late dusk.

Image via Wikipedia

I wish I could write snappy little sentences on this topic, compile a top ten list of things to combat the sense of being utterly alone.  I could give obvious tips like surround yourself with friends, or don’t hide up in your apartment by yourself.  But it would be disingenuous of me to give advice because I don’t have any answers.  I didn’t sign up for being alone in my late thirties: no children, no spouse and very little hope of change.  Someone from my distant past who I don’t know well, put the following on my facebook wall

“Why don’t you just learn to be happy without a man?”

He couldn’t understand that this ridiculously dismissive statement upset me.  Needless to say we are no longer friends. His declaration just seemed like a death sentence.  I should just resign myself to being alone the rest of my life, that somehow wanting a relationship is a weakness.  I can’t imagine someone going up to a man who had ended his marriage and telling him

Who needs a woman?  You should be happy on your own!

I guess some might, but it seems socially more acceptable to espouse this sentiment to a woman instead of a man.  Up until recently women had fewer choices in life than men, it was either get married or struggle on your own.  Now we have a myriad of variations of a healthy adult life.  I am not searching for a partner for a sense of financial stability or cultural acceptance.  I just prefer to live in a committed relationship and not have a series of short-lived affairs.  Not everyone likes the same flavor ice cream and not everyone likes the same lifestyle.  I don’t know how it is a weakness on my part to want to share my life with another.

There is some truth in his statement:  I should learn to love living on my own and I shouldn’t need a partner in my life.  But I am hardly 80 years old.  I don’t think I should accept my fate of a permanently single woman bereft of any romantic endeavors.  Some people tell me I am trying too hard, and I should just let nature take its course.  Well even though I keep trying to convince people otherwise; I really don’t meet anyone in my daily routine.  I work with children in my day job so I meet a lot of married dads, and at night I host burlesque and comedy shows.  Any men that I seem to attract from my performances are not attracted to me in a healthy way, in fact some of them have acted more like stalkers.  They aren’t seeing me, but a fragment of my personality heightened for the stage. These men tend to put me on such a high pedestal; I would have no way to go but down, if I actually tried to have a relationship with any of them.  I have no desire to end up with another comic and further complicate any professional ambitions in that field.  Online dating has been a bit of a fiasco for me, yet I still keep trying with no luck.  I feel entirely stuck.

I also get the criticism that I am not trying hard enough.  I should force myself to go out with nearly any man within reason, including men I have no attraction towards or are much older or younger than me.  I don’t know why I should have to put myself through that hell.  Even going out with age appropriate men I am reasonably attracted to is difficult enough.  Occasionally I will get my hopes up on someone only to quickly give up as they don’t feel the same way towards me, or I discover huge compatibility problems.  As I watch nearly everyone in my social group “couple up” at least temporarily I wonder –  What is it about me that is preventing this from happening?  Is that the trauma of my divorce and subsequent depression too glaring to hide?  Is it due to my lack of trust in other people I read as suspicious?  Do I just seem desperate?  Is it this blog? (So far at least one man has blamed it for changing his mind about a second date).  I don’t know.  I go through periods of not caring at all and then waves of feeling like it is never going to change.

The loneliness is stifling.  I am envious of women with children because at least they have someone in their life who is a part of them forever.  My marriage was little more than lies and deception, but at least I had someone to come home to every night.   My spouse was someone I thought was supporting me and with whom I could share my life.  Now it is just endless nights wondering if this is just the new normal.  I didn’t sign up for this when I committed my life to my husband.   As I watch my fellow single friends start dating people they care about, I know I won’t get to talk to them as often or see them as much.  I am happy for them, but it just makes me feel that much more alone.  I wish I had some sort of pep talk for myself and for readers of this blog.  I don’t.  I continue to hang out with friends who love and support me and reach out to loving family members, but the elusive romantic partnership seems lost to me forever.  The most searched for phrase for this blog is the following.

Why is it so difficult to date in your late thirties?

Although I might be lonely, I am definitely not alone.

Unconditional Love – Why it is such a bad idea

unconditional.

Image via Wikipedia

I have a feeling this post might upset some people.  But I have thought that before and it hasn’t stopped me yet.  As Valentine’s Day approaches I think of the cliché line that is often uttered in Victorian novels, romantic comedies and tales of epic romances.

I will always love you, unconditionally

I find this statement not just unrealistic but downright dangerous.  The only vessels on this earth that should receive unconditional love are children and pets.  For one adult to pledge to unconditionally love another adult is a little fantastical.  As we all have conditions on lovers and their behavior.  Many a lifetime has been destroyed trying to live up to this myth that true love will conquer all, or that somehow no matter what the obstacles love will live forever.  I would agree that if the obstacles and stresses are external that this type of love should be striven for in every intimate relationship.  For instance, if one is stricken with a horrible disease it is noble and inspirational if their partner stays by their side through thick and thin.  That kind of unconditional love is a beautiful thing that we should all hope and strive for in this life.

But what if one partner begins to abuse, damage or hurt the other partner?    What if they have sexual relationships outside the relationship without the other partners consent?  What if one repeatedly puts their own needs before their partners?  What if one weaves a tapestry of lies and deception living a secret life without their partner’s knowledge?  Is it right to love them unconditionally despite this extremely destructive and hurtful behavior?  Abusive behavior should not be brushed aside due to some vow of “unconditional” love.  We should never become a doormat to an idea or notion that is unattainable.  I stayed in my marriage years longer than I should have because I thought that if I loved my husband enough, that it would save the marriage.  But my marriag,e constructed of lies more than anything else, was not salvageable.  I had no hope in keeping it together no matter what I did.

I know of some relationships that take great pride in the length that they have survived as a couple, yet some of these relationships are no more than two co-dependent toxic people who cannot live without each other.  I think of the example of the play Who’s Afraid of Virgina Wolf  in which Martha and George, have been together for over two decades in a relationship of constant bickering, fighting and mutual destruction.   The main forces keeping them together being fear, co-dependence and alcoholism.  Is that “unconditional” love?  We all know couples in our real lives that exist this way and they are nothing to envy.

I also used to find it romantic when a spouse would lose another due to death and then never remarry.  After my divorce I find that notion horribly depressing and sad.  Sad that the surviving spouse was never able to make that same kind of connection with another human being.   They should still love and honor their deceased partner, but with enough time to grieve should try to find someone new to let into their life.  As most partner’s would not want their surviving spouse to remain lonely forever.

Unconditional love  is ultimately self-destructive unless it is unconditional love for ourselves.  I am not saying that we should love ourselves in such a way that we don’t see our short-comings, poor choices or mistakes.  We should never see ourselves as anything but the flawed human beings that we are, but if anything we should have so much love for ourselves that we don’t allow another to treat us in such destructive ways.   And to hell to the silly novels, lame romantic comedies and articles in Cosmopolitan that tell us otherwise.  A healthy adult relationship should have boundaries and conditions.  To love someone who is abusive to you is not love, and it is nothing noble it is a form of self-loathing if nothing else.

Dating After Divorce – Rebounds and Supernovas

English: Pleiades Star Cluster

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I don’t know why they call them rebound relationships.  When I think of a rebound I think of a ball bouncing off of a wall, which is a fairly tame thing.  I now call the first major relationship after leaving my husband the supernova – a collection of stars exploding all at once vaporizing everything in their path, burning bright, hot and fast.  It was a force of nature – so much bigger than a rebound.

I left my husband when I discovered he was a closeted homosexual.  He had been lying to me and to himself for our entire nine-year relationship.   When I left him I was devastated, although the relationship had grown dysfunctional, I was still deeply in love and a dedicated wife.

My marriage had been celibate for a prolonged period of time, and I desperately longed for a relationship with a straight man.  I found it almost too easily and only four months after leaving my husband.  He was a man who I had known casually in my social group of friends.  He was handsome, charming, and we had a lot of the same interests.  We sort of discovered through mutual friends that we both had a crush on each other, so it seemed inevitable that we would end up together. He even remembered the moment we first met years earlier, which was fuzzy to me, but he could recall it in startling detail.  And he resembled a taller, younger version of my husband.  It was as if I had found the straight version of the man I had just left.

I knew it was a dangerous situation and I avoided getting involved at first.  I had so many fears–Was it too soon? Would this end up making my depression worse? Was it because he reminded me of my ex?

But it happened, the universe finally put us together, and for a brief period in my life it was pure magic.  I thought I was the luckiest girl in the world to have fallen from that complete and utter disaster that was my divorce into something that felt so perfect.  And he seemed just as excited as I was; it felt like the ideal love affair.  But the cracks started to form almost immediately.  I was deeply depressed, a depression that is almost too difficult to describe now.  I couldn’t sleep through the night, had difficulty eating, cried constantly, suffered panic attacks, general anxiety, overwhelming fears dominated my thoughts, and my moods would turn on a dime.  I lost 20 pounds and dropped two dress sizes in a few months, had frequent asthma attacks, and was constantly sick; physically, and emotionally I was falling apart.

I also wasn’t used to dating, I was used to being married.  Dating is not anywhere near being married.  I didn’t know how to make the transition; I was suffocating, smothering and desperate for his affection.  I will never know his motivations but I can’t blame him for walking away from an obvious train wreck.  He had his own problems as everyone does, and I was just a disaster of a human being. When it ended it felt like being dropped off an emotional cliff.  I was already so damaged from my divorce and now my first attempt at love was an implosion of epic proportions.

For months I tormented myself over the whole affair beating myself up for all of the mistakes I had made.  I tried to start another relationship only to have that blow up in my face almost the exact same way.  I kept blaming myself, what if I had waited?  What if I had been healthier?  Would either relationship have worked out differently?  Eventually I convinced myself that it didn’t matter.  I would never know that alternate reality and life doesn’t work with a reset button.  The damage was done; the trust was shattered on both sides and couldn’t be repaired.  Feelings were hurt, egos bruised, expectations destroyed and there was no way I could repair any of it.  And I needed to move forward anyway as the whole affair was just collateral damage of my state of mind at the time.  Being clinically depressed is not the best time to start a relationship.

The real source of my anguish was my divorce, so either it would have been this one painful affair or a series of short meaningless flings, but the outcome would have been the same.  I was eventually going to hit rock-bottom.   After an agonizing eight-hour long anxiety attack and three days of very little sleep, I finally bottomed out, and then I got into therapy, briefly went on antidepressants and little by little, month by month, the horrible twisted vice of depression released its grip and I began to have my mind back.  It took nearly two years from the day I left my marriage to finally feel like myself again.   Friendships tarnished and other aspects of my personal and professional life have been negatively affected, but I try to live with a positive outlook and not look back.  Cognitive behavioral therapy is one tool that worked for me and I try to use its tips and tricks every day.

I say it all the time now to anyone newly divorced and I say it even if they are not listening.  Don’t do it.   Give yourself time to heal before you suck someone else into the personal torment that you are inevitably going to experience.  Of course not every divorced person goes through this, as some are happy to leave their spouse, and for them divorce is a new beginning.  But if a person is emotionally crushed, they should avoid getting involved in a serious intimate relationship for a while.

The most important thing that I learned from my supernova experience is that no one else could save me.  No one person has enough love or strength to pull another out of a free fall, especially in a brand new relationship.  I had to do it on my own.  I couldn’t really be available emotionally to another partner when I couldn’t even take care of myself.

Sometimes a person gets lucky and has a perfect love affair immediately after a divorce, but from my own, and most of my friend’s experiences this hasn’t been the case.  So fight the force of nature, hang out with your friends and work on yourself.  Things will get better, but the main thing that you need is time, not another lover.