“They say I should start to date as soon as possible. Do I have to ‘get right back on the horse’ immediately, or will I be alone forever?”
In dating, unlike in horseback riding, if you try to throw yourself into another committed, intimate relationship soon after (or during) a divorce, you’re more likely to find yourself on another painful and all-too-familiar ride.
You may believe that the divorce has given you new clarity to be able to pick a better partner. Sometimes we think that what we now need is the opposite of our previous partner. There are two inherent problems with this. One is that our conscious mind is only one part of us that is active in this selection process. The other problem is that we’re focusing on the partner and not on ourselves.
According to author Harville Hendrix, founder of Imago Relationship Therapy (www.imagotherapy.com), our unconscious mind is hugely influential in the selection process. It is our unconscious mind that scans the potential partner for traits that will eventually seem problematic for us, since they will remind us of the hurts we experienced in childhood. But therein also lies the opportunity for healing and growth, when both people commit to co-creating a conscious relationship.
Have you ever heard the saying, “Wherever you go, there you are?” We take ourselves to every relationship we’re in. And if we haven’t grown and evolved, we will be attracted to someone who may turn out to be just like our ex-partner. Rather than jump into another relationship, post-divorce is the ideal time to step back and learn about what part you played in co-creating what just happened. With the help of friends, therapy, or other support, you can use this time to grow into becoming, and attracting, the best partner for the adventure ahead.
Jill Fein Baker, LCSW is in private practice in Skokie, IL, where she also presents Imago workshops for singles and couples.