Nothing causes you to be more consumed with self doubt about your judgment than a bad break up or divorce. After spending so much time and energy with someone, you are bound to feel immense disappointment that your efforts to sustain a long term relationship failed to yield a successful result. Give yourself some space to cycle through the anger, sadness, shame that result from the end of a relationship until you finally get to apathy, when you can accept that you need to close that chapter in your life in order to start the next one.
Before jumping into the next relationship, however, it’s important to do a self assessment. What do you really need and want in a partner? Also, what are your true deal-breakers? This can change over time, so don’t skip over this exercise because you did it once before. Be selective in choosing your next mate. Pay attention to the way s/he follows through with plans and how special they make you feel. Is it easy to be around them or do you find yourself guarded? Do not ignore red flags while playing 20 questions, where the whole point is to map (1) where that person comes from, (2) where they are presently and (3) where they are heading.
The reality is, as we get older time definitely becomes more precious, and personally I’ve come to accept you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. After age 45, if someone lacks basic communication skills, doesn’t know how to resolve conflict respectfully, or truly apologize when they’ve made a mistake, it’s best to move on. Someone truly interested in maintaining a loving and committed relationship should have the ability to (1) be curious without being critical; (2) tread gently; (3) not jump to assumptions; and (4) connect in a meaningful way. These are basic skills required to preserve a healthy bond.
Ultimately, if someone doesn’t make you a priority and/or lacks the ability to do repair work quickly when needed, why waste your time with them? There are plenty of fish in the sea– and if you need some guidance with exploring your options, there is a plethora of dating coaches and books out there to help you, even during COVID. In fact, many experts claim that during this pandemic more singles have taken the time to really focus on finding deeper connections and they are being far more discerning than ever before. I guess that’s the silver lining to surviving this apocalyptic episode we have all been living through this past year.
If you are serious about finding a quality match, try to keep my friend’s advice in mind: lead with your head, and follow with your heart. Amy Schoen is a dating coach, and the author of “Get It Right This Time.” She has a Facebook group “Motivated to Marry,” and next week I will be doing a talk with her about prenups– not just the benefits of having one, but also when and how to start discussing it. In my opinion, it’s never too soon to mention that this agreement is something you will need in order to feel comfortable moving forward and merging households with a significant other. If they can’t accept that, their unwillingness to reach a compromise should already tell you everything you need to know.
By Regina A. DeMeo