Once Burned, Twice Shy: Avoiding the Divorce Fear Factor

John Gray offers 5 reasons to take a chance at failing at love again, and 4 steps you can take to overcome your relationship fears.

By John Gray, Ph.D.
Updated: February 13, 2016
Dating after divorce

It's natural that your divorce has made you gun shy about future intimate relationships. It's also easier to stay out of the game of love than come up with another empty hand. After all, no one wants to be pegged a perennial "relationship loser."

So why should you take a chance at failing at love again? For the following five reasons:

Reason #1: Because your fear of relationship failure is unfounded. We all make mistakes – and most of us make more than just one. Finding love is not an easy endeavor. Still, if you don't look for it, you'll always wonder about what you missed.

Reason #2: Because giving up on love ensures that you'll never succeed at having a happy, fulfilling relationship – and that is the last thing you want to do.

Reason #3: Because the surest way to put the pain and hurt of your divorce to rest is to rediscover yourself as part of a loving relationship.

Reason #4: Because you don't have to punish yourself for your past. Instead, reward yourself for taking the momentous step of moving on in your life by allowing yourself to enjoy the company of others.

Reason #5: Because joy in life comes through our experiences, and the richest experiences we have take place through our interactions with others. Don't deny yourself the opportunity to grow, to learn, and to love.

Convinced? I hope so. And now that you're ready to get back into the game, here are four steps you can take to overcome your relationship fears:

Step #1: Just remember: only you control your future happiness. If you deem yourself unworthy of finding love again, the actions you take will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, remind yourself that you deserve to spend the rest of your life with someone who can make you happy – and start looking for that person.

Step #2: Date plenty, and date many. Practice makes perfect. That first date may not produce Mr. or Ms. Right, but numbers 2, 5, 7, or 17 might just be that person – all the more reasons to make that date, and many others.

Step #3: Allow yourself to fall in love. This won't be easy. At first, you may have a hard time trusting your own judgement about prospective partners. Then again, your divorce was the trial-by-fire from which you learned many life lessons. Use them to define the criteria for finding your ideal mate.

Step #4: Don't anticipate the worst. At the same time, don't throw caution to the wind, either. Let your gut instincts be your guide as to whether or not your new relationship is providing all you need to find the emotional satisfaction you seek. Actions speak louder than words. Feelings – either yours or your prospective mate's – cannot be forced to achieve this goal. Besides, you can't find a fulfilling relationship if you're stuck in one that doesn't work. Don't be afraid to walk away if this relationship just is not right for you.

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By John Gray, Ph.D.| May 28, 2008

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