My client today was a lady that had been divorced for over 5 years. She was in her 50’s and both of her children were now adults who had flown the nest. She was feeling lost without them and had spent the past few years being a mum and focusing on her career.
She was in despair and felt that she had left it too late to find anyone special. Her words to me were “Who would want me now I’m old?” She didn’t think that anyone would find her attractive and the thought of going on a date terrified her.
When you find yourself single in middle age, it can really knock your confidence and you wonder if you will every find anyone at this stage in your life. Many people in this position, decide its far too hard and give up at the first hurdle – they become happy being on their own and fill their lives with other things. There is nothing wrong with this at all, if it makes them HAPPY.
My client didn’t want to be the lonely cat woman (as she put it) and wanted some help in moving forward.
We started by doing some confidence boosting activities, she wrote down all the things she disliked about herself and followed and it with something that she did like. I also set her the task of asking her friends what they thought her qualities were. I told her to put them on post-it notes and put them somewhere visible like on the fridge or in her office. I’m a great believer in the quote “You can’t love anyone until you love yourself”.
We set about writing an action plan which included pushing herself out of her comfort zone by joining a social or hobby group that would boost her confidence before she went on any dating apps and to think about booking a holiday or retreat on her own (I did and it was the best thing that I ever did). We also talked about the type of person she would like to meet and what qualities that she would find attractive – I call this the ‘design your ideal partner’ exercise. By doing this, you give people a framework to work from. Obviously, you can’t plan for that elusive spark and I always tell clients that they will not get 100% of what they want (aim for 80% – there is always going to be a compromise).
I was glad that she didn’t want to rush into a relationship with the first man that came along. So many people do this as a knee jerk reaction to being single but usually, it is a rebound relationship and doesn’t last. However, rebound relationships can serve a purpose – they will allow you to learn about what you want from a new relationship and what works for you.
She also needed to work through some unresolved issues from her previous marriage before she could move forward. Dating again after a divorce, can be a minefield, so many people, wanting different things and at different stages.
If your dating after a divorce, my biggest tips are; don’t settle for less then 80% of what you want and always be honest with your date about what you are after – so, if all you want is a casual relationship, say so – its not hard and you will save yourself and your date a lot of time. Lastly, enjoy yourself! Dating is all about meeting new people, which is exciting – you don’t have to see them again if you don’t want to.