One of my favorite questions to ask on a first date is, “What have you learned from your divorce?” I want to know if my date has learned about himself, and if so, how has he applied that learning to his post-divorce relationships? The answer to this question tells me a lot about a man’s character. Has he assumed responsibility for his share in the failure of the marriage? Has he grown as a person? Is he smarter about love, or is he blaming women for all of his relationship problems?
I realize it’s a deep question to ask, and some men don’t have an answer in the moment. That’s okay. Some respond by telling me how awful their ex was (not interested, thank you very much). But, when a man is vulnerable and willing to admit how far he’s come since his divorce, that’s pretty darn sexy to me.
One of the reasons I became a dating coach is because my marriage failed big time. I knew I had a lot to learn about love.
So, for the past nine years, I’ve become a student of love, reading scores of dating and relationship books and learning from some of the top dating and relationship coaches. I’ve been honored to interview over 220 love experts on Last First Date Radio. I also learned as I guided my clients towards the best relationships they’ve ever had. And I grew the most from my own dating and relationships.
I wanted to know what others learned from their divorces. So, I asked 550 women, and here’s what they had to say. Which ones resonate most with you?
6 Invaluable Lessons Learned From Divorce
#1. I’m stronger and more capable than I ever thought.
- I could do way more then I ever thought I could, like pay my bills, take care of my house, meet new people, date, and enjoy life.
- I’m really strong and can take care of myself.
- I can rely on myself. I can manage my family, my home inside and out, my bills, my job and still have time to spend with friends.
- All in all I realized I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. It was not an overnight process. It took time. Now I look back and wonder why I was so afraid to be on my own.
- We never know the strength within us until we are in the midst of a raging volcano, earthquake, hurricane, and, possibly a tsunami and we must crawl out of it—with courage, optimism, and the fortitude to go forward.
#2. I’m okay being alone.
- It’s lonelier to be with the wrong person than it is to actually be alone.
- Way better to be alone wishing you were with someone vs. with someone and wishing you were alone.
- Life can be so much better when you’re not living with someone you don’t like.
- I learned that I can survive and that I can take care of myself. I fully enjoyed my “new single” life, and now I am more cautious.
#3. I learned how to have healthy relationships.
- I learned that I need affection and communication in a relationship.
- Big aha moment—that guys can’t read my mind! I have to step up and be clear and calm with my needs (Sandy has helped a lot with this one).
- I don’t take rejection personally anymore. While I still can feel hurt and sad, I no longer jump to thinking I am a bad person, I coulda shoulda done something differently.
- An emotionally unavailable man is just that. I can’t change him.
- I don’t take anything or anyone for granted.
- I learned that we MUST have common values (including political leanings).
- To truly love a man, I must respect him.
- I’ve learned to never ignore my instincts with a guy. If I’m really not into him in the beginning, that’s a sign to end it. It doesn’t get better from there for me.
- I have learned how to set boundaries, how important they are, and not to feel guilty while taking care of myself.
- I discovered that verbally expressing myself is necessary because men are not mind readers.
#4. It takes time to heal after divorce.
- Things feel different when divorce is actually final as opposed to when you are in the process of divorce. And things feel a lot different a year later.
- Men have a lot of stuff to work through post divorce, too, and experience pain from divorce.
- Many men have been cheated on and don’t want to recreate that situation. Many men are very lonely and eager to have a partner yet leery to try again due to unresolved pain.
- After the divorce, when you’ve had time and space to heal, you really find out who your ex is and what they are made of.
#5. My kids are doing much better than I thought they would.
- When there are children involved, NEVER directly say a word to any of them. I shall forever pat myself on the back for not involving my children in my adult divorce-related issues. They were neither at fault, nor could they do anything. To this day, I credit myself that all three of them have a relationship with their father.
- There was less tension in the home and the kids seemed better after the divorce. For me it was easier to raise my kids as a single mother.
#6. I learned to value men and myself more.
- The biggest things for me were valuing myself and setting boundaries.
- I learned men aren’t the enemy, and that there are a lot of great guys out there who will recognize my value.
- I found that I have much more power as a woman in dating and relationships and there is a right, loving way to share my needs.
- I stopped caring about peer or family pressure. It’s my life and no one will tell me how to live it.
Which of the above answers are true for you? Do you have anything to add? Please share what you learned since your divorce.
Photo: Flickr/Xavier Vergés