Last night I had the pleasure of eating dinner with an old friend from out of town and his new girlfriend. When he texted me that he was in town he said, “Down here with a new girlfriend. Recently divorced but all good.” I was surprised but not all that surprised. Seems like this divorce thing is going around. And my friends and I are in the 7 – 11 year itch period where the rubber meets the road. So he was divorced and already traveling with his “new girlfriend.” Wow. Good for him.
It was great to see my friend and his delightful new partner. She too is the survivor of divorce, with two kids who are a bit younger than my friend and I. We had a very interesting discussion about what we were doing with our lives.
You see, in addition to catching up with my friend, who I hadn’t spent time with in over two years, we were also catching up as a group of recently divorced people. I took the opportunity to explore some ideas I’d been kicking around.
Updated Dating Rules for Adults
- We start a marriage with a set of assumptions and a set of ideals.
- Over time, as we add mortgages, kids, and health insurance to the equation, we begin a long process of adaption and compromise.
- If we continue to compromise away from our true selves, we will eventually get depressed or angry. We will start looking for a way back to something more vibrant, more authentic. We want to get back to sometime more like the ME I remember.
- Divorce happens. Initialized by one of the parties, and then the transformation begins.
- In the process of divorce recovery we either 1. jump right back into another relationship, failing to examine or learn from what failed in the previous one; OR 2. we take some time to rediscover our solo-selves.
- As somewhat activated solo-selves we are now able to reclaim our artistic passions, our authentic aspirations, our alone-wants, and our alone-desires.
- In imagining and testing the concept of dating and relating to another adult human, we have new “non-negotiables” as part of our needs.
- We do not want to re-enter the path of compromise if it means a collapse of this newly rediscovered self.
- We are forced to create something new.
As the three of us talked about our dreams for ourselves, we were careful to listen to the other person’s dreams. I was sounding out, and exploring my friend’s musical aspirations. I wanted to hear about his new symphonic ideas. I was interested in the part of himself that he was rediscovering and re-establishing. And his new girlfriend was clearly in that same camp. She too was an artist. She had vision and drive. She wanted the musician in my friend to reignite and come alive.
How Do We Let Go of the Past?
So how can we enter into a new kind of relationship, now, with what we know about ourselves? How will the mistakes of our past reframe what is and is not acceptable in our next relationship? And ultimately, can we create a Relationship 3.0 that keeps our goals and ambitions as creative individuals at the forefront of the mix WHILE we are also negotiating the togetherness that we also want.
I am curious how much of a relationship is about sex for me. And if sex was more a function of several “dates” perhaps I would not need a relationship so much. I don’t think that’s it. I KNOW there is much more about relationships than sex. And I know, recently, that sex without the deeper connection is much more like masturbation. But it is interesting to pull apart all the aspects of a potential relationship and see which parts of it are valuable, and which parts are limiting.
At the moment I am limitless. I am alone, yes, but I am the sole determiner of what I am doing tonight. (Well, I have my kids this weekend, so not tonight…) And then I can ask, and what am I willing to give up to be WITH someone. What would “tonight” look like if there were another person waiting in the wings to spend time with me.
Often in the early months of my courtship with the ex we would have breakfast on a weekend and make plans to get back together in the early evening. And off we would go to our separate artist studios. (For the most part, art is a solo endeavor.) These were some of our happiest times.
When she let the work and compromise of our relationship kill her artistic dream she became small and resentful of mine. I have never stopped trying to write songs, or poems and stories. It takes time. And for sure, time away from the relationship.
So in defining and finding a “next relationship,” what time am I willing to be flexible on and what time am I going to keep just for myself?
Dating Is About Time
As an adult, and in my case, an adult with children from a previous marriage, everything hinges on time. Either you have time to or you don’t. In my case, as a single dad, I do have time. I am looking for a partner who also has some available bandwidth. The signal I am looking for when starting a relationship, is if the other person is making the time and effort to get together. I am usually the romantic lead. But, these days, I need to hear about the romantic ideas of my potential partner. In previous relationships, and in my marriage, I was the massive love generator. (MLG) As an adult, I want to be in a relationship where the other person is also putting in the energy and imagination to create romance and magic.
Let’s make the time to be together and see what happens. And as we set off on the early weeks of our co-created relationship, let’s both be enthusiastically engaged and generous with our hearts and imaginations. We can build magic together. I will no longer be building it on my own. And if we both pitch in, the hope is that the romance will continue to build for a lifetime.
As a certified life coach, I’ve been helping men and women find fulfilling relationships. If you’d like to chat for 30-minutes about your post-divorce challenges, I always give the first 30-session away for free. LEARN ABOUT COACHING WITH JOHN. There are no obligations to continue. But I get excited every time I talk to someone new. I can offer new perspectives and experiences from my post-divorce journey. Most of all, I can offer hope.
- Five Reasons to Slow Your Roll when Dating: Sex and Dating
- The New Rules of Sex: Frequency, Fun, and Fantasy
- There She Goes Again: Limitless Desire for a New Partner
- Time, The Currency of Modern Relationships: Either You Have It To Give
- Starting at Zero: Relationship Basics for the Newly Single
- When the Sexual Chemistry Knocks the Sense Right Out of You
- The Dating Journey: From the Break Up to the Pre-Dating Checklist
- **A General Theory of Love Thomas Lewis, M. D. et al.
- The Soul of Sex: Cultivating Life as an Act of Love Thomas Moore
- ** Care of the Soul Thomas Moore
- The 5 Love Languages Gary Chapman