Guest blog: Kerry Forsell on dating after divorce - Make your list and check it twice
Updated: Nov 18, 2020
Make your list and check it twice.
When thinking of what you want in a future partner do you think tall, dark and handsome? While physical traits can be something that is important, I am speaking of something a bit more specific. Getting crystal clear on what you need and want from a partner and relationship is crucial work to do before putting yourself out there. The groundwork starts with getting to know yourself and your values.
What is important to you? What do you stand for? What brings you joy? What are things that are not negotiable in your life today? You have obviously learned so much from your marriage on what did and didn’t work. That is always a good place to start. I recommend to not only focus on what you don’t want. If you are still processing hurt from your divorce, like most of us are, it can be easy to focus on the exact opposite of your ex. That might be a nice change, but not exactly what you need. Make sure you bring yourself and your desires into the equation. Get to know yourself separate from your pain.
Some items on my list for example are:
Someone who is a good communicator. Someone who is active. Someone who is tall. Someone who will kiss me in public. Someone I can learn and grow with.
My list continues to evolve as I learn more about myself and my needs. What I needed in my 20’s is completely different from what I need as a single mom in my 40’s. When I first started dating again, I didn’t have solid criteria for what was important. Some things would feel a bit off when I was getting to know someone, but I would write it off as being too picky or judgmental. I began to realize without better guidelines I was going to be continually disappointed and potentially wasting time on the wrong dates.
I also wasn’t clear on my intention for dating. Do I eventually want to get married? Was dating to just have fun and meet new people? Do I want a relationship? What does that relationship look like? These aren’t topics you need to discuss with your date right away, but they do come up and it is important to know where you stand so that you can always be honest. It also helps with expectations. Unmet expectations are the root of all disappointment. If you haven’t clarified with the new person that you are dating what you want, you may come to find that while you were looking to be exclusive, they were not interested in settling down.
In my last relationship I went off my list of what I was looking for and there was only one thing missing. It wasn’t a small item, but I talked myself out of its importance and I was happy to have found a great man in so many other areas. At that time, I had not clarified what my intention was in dating. I had been dating on and off for the past year and not much had come of it. As things started progressing, we decided to be exclusive. Then about a month in the topic of marriage came up. I was not interested in revisiting marriage at that time, but my boyfriend was. We agreed to put it on the backburner for now. About 6 more months down the road as we exited the honeymoon phase I realized that we had very different expectations on how much time we wanted to spend together. We struggled to get our needs met and make compromises for each other.
Now, I am not saying that you need to detail all this out on the third date. These things do come up organically. What I am saying is that you need to pay attention and be honest with your partner when inbalances in wants and needs come up. Between the one item on my list, the discrepancy in wanting to get married, and the amount of time spent together, this resulted in the relationship ending.
I have no regrets whatsoever. It was a beautiful relationship where I learned how to trust in love again. I also don’t have a crystal ball to say how things would have been different if I would have been clearer on my intentions and expectations. All I know is that there was heartache and struggle involved as the relationship deteriorated and I do believe some of that could have been avoided or addressed earlier on.
I have some tools that you can help you in this self-discovery process.
In partnership with Nina at See The Upside, we will be offering a resource worksheet to help you identify your values, detail your “what I want list,” and design your dating intention.
This resource will be included in the next newsletter so please sign up and let us know how it works for you!