We’re all familiar with the term “honeymoon phase”. It seems perhaps, like an odd thing to write about when discussing divorce, but I believe that there’s a honeymoon phase to your separation/divorce.
And while I believe (from my own personal experience) that the first year of being on your own comes with many mixed emotions, there is a certain degree of excitement about what lies ahead. There’s a romanticized view of how your new life may look and the wonderful new people that you’ll meet.
With this excitement comes the honeymoon phase of dating that seems to be a rather common phenomenon. I have known many newly separated people who dive into dating with extraordinarily enthusiasm. I get it; I really do, but for me, this wasn’t my path.
I knew that the breakdown of my marriage wasn’t a one-person blame game. I had to take responsibility for my part in the breakdown of my marriage and come to terms with it. I needed time to re-discover who I was and I needed to process all the changes that my life was beginning to take on. I also needed to mourn the loss of the life I wasn’t going to have; the one that we chose to walk away from.
My headspace was messy and cluttered and I was not at all ready to date. I gave myself one year to go through my process and then I would start dating. I wouldn’t allow myself to date in the first year….it was my mental detox. Instead, I spent that time working through my own stuff, spending time with friends, and focusing on my kids’ well being. I wanted a clear head to focus on their transition into our new family structure and routines. I wanted to stay focused with no distraction.
I also needed to learn how to be alone. I spent quite a bit of time on my own and I learned to enjoy it. For me this wasn’t easy but it was essential.
Surprisingly, when the year was up, I still didn’t feel ready to start dating, and so I didn’t push myself. While online dating has been very effective and exciting for many of my friends, it didn’t seem like the right fit for me. I chose to simply live my life and let things take shape organically.
When I did start dating, I realized that I had learned so much about myself during my mental detox. I learned to love and respect myself again, something that I had lost during my marriage. It was only with this new found self love that I was able to know what I wanted and what I didn’t want in a new partner. Had I not gone through my own personal detox, I don’t believe I would have been able to change some of my patterns. Self-reflection and introspection are truly the greatest gifts that have come out of this process for me and without these tools, I don’t think I would know how to live a fulfilling life.
Everyone’s journey is different and we all start the divorce process with our own baggage. Some people may feel that they need to date right away and this article isn’t intended to judge. Do what feels right to you but regardless of how long you wait or how quickly you date, please do make some time to learn to be alone and take the time to get to know you again. When you’re able to do this, then I believe you’re ready to take on the world and the dating scene!