Wavering after a Breakup

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We’ve all been there – that limbo place after a relationship has ended but before a new one has yet to be found.

Sometimes our resolve wavers. We wonder: Did I break it off too quickly or without a good enough reason?  Perhaps the question is: Why did he break it off and can we go back to being a “we”?

This is not an easy topic. I recommend indulging in comfort food as we ponder the issue.

Let’s focus on scenario #1 in which you broke off the relationship. Perhaps you had a good four-fifths of a partnership but the other poor quality fifth was too damn important to ignore. That fifth could be a major difference in outlook on life, sexual compatibility, the role of family, or for a certain age group, whether to have children. Whatever the reason, the fact that this aspect of your coupled life was seriously inadequate ate away at you until you finally realized it was time to move on.

So, you broke it off. And it was damn hard because that other four-fifths was good. And nothing is perfect, right? So should you swallow and go back to Mr. Almost Right?

Here’s a suggested game plan for your wavering, quivering heart.

*Recognize that it’s going to take time to heal.

*Remember what it felt like to not have that important one fifth. Ask yourself, “Do I really want to live with that situation?”

*Rely on your trusted friends for companionship, moral support, and a bigger picture outlook

*Revive your independence and explore fulfilling activities that bring you joy.

*Reach out to expand your social network through Meetups, social clubs and activities, online dating sites and apps.

*Reflect on your ideal romantic partnership. Realize that although you can’t have everything, you should strive for having the most important things.

*Restrict any desires to reconnect for at least 6 months. Distance and time will help you to see more clearly.

*Relish a new relationship if you are lucky enough to find one.

*Rev up your support system if the new relationship is short lived.

*Realize that if you are not in a new relationship – and you want to be in one — you are vulnerable to returning to Mr. Almost Right.

You should follow a similar game plan if Mr. Almost Right called it quits. Although you didn’t choose to end the relationship, it’s important to think about what worked and didn’t work from both of your perspectives.

If Mr. Almost Right gave you a reason for the breakup, ask yourself whether the relationship met your needs. As hard as it is, try to critically evaluate your time together. Talk to people, including therapists as needed. Read about relationships. Ask yourself: Are there things you would have done differently?

You can’t make someone love you–or vice versa, but you can learn from a breakup.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

Who’s in your Squad?

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Do you have your squad lined up? Yes, your friends count and they make up part of your squad, but I want to talk about others who enrich your life by teaching you and/or helping you feel better physically or emotionally. These squad members may not have begun their journey with you as friends but your relationship often turns into friendship plus.

Join me in a Paris-inspired lunch while we consider this important group of people. And if you’re tired from marching yesterday, eat with your feet up.

My squad is composed of a personal trainer, a swimming coach, a massage therapist, a hair stylist, and a relatively new one – a fiction-writing teacher.

These are people I look forward to seeing on a regular or semi regular basis. After my divorce, I worked hard to create a new life with new relationships, friendships, and new activities to help me connect with a new self that was growing and figuring herself out. My “squad” grew organically out of the activities I pursued/wanted to pursue. I imagine it will continue to grow as I develop new interests or need help in some way.

I’ve had a few personal trainers over the years. A good trainer not only keeps you motivated to exercise but also ensures consistent progress without injuries. I have been working out with my current trainer for a little over a year. I am stronger now and able to lift huge bags of groceries in a single bound. Ms. R is such a positive, loving person that I truly look forward to a weekly 30 minutes of exhausting my muscles. She’ll text me on occasion just to send what I call a happy note of encouragement and support. Ms. R is a key member of my squad.

My writing teacher is not a full-fledged squad member but I have taken a couple of classes with her and she helps me to see my potential, something we all need to be reminded of from time to time.

I don’t see my massage therapist that often but my visits to Ms. K always leave me relaxed and more aligned as my body moves through the world.

You may question the inclusion of a hair stylist on my squad list but I consider her an important member of the team. Ms. S knew me pre-divorce and we visited during some rough times when the highlight of my day was getting rid of my gray roots (pun intended). Hair stylists have a reputation for serving as therapists for their clients and mine was no exception. During my separation and early years following divorce, it was helpful to have a friendly person who listened to my tales of woe and offered practical advice. I didn’t always take the advice but I always left the salon feeling – and looking – better.

The newest squad member, my swimming coach, is young enough to be my daughter but she’s in charge when I hit the pool. She has given me a great gift- confidence in the water. With my fear now gone, I want to excel as best I can at a variety of strokes. Current challenge (emphasis on challenge): the butterfly. My swimming classes have been a reminder of how important it is to always have goals in life. Working toward goals gives you a sense of purpose and achieving them is one of the best natural highs. A good teacher or coach can help you on this path.

What about you? Do you have a squad of coaches, trainers, or teachers? If not, consider finding a few “helpers.” They can make a difference in your life.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Facebook Stalking my Ex’s Girlfriend

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A couple of weeks ago, I made the mistake of Facebook stalking my ex’s current girlfriend (GF). I had not done this before and it was not premeditated. I was searching online for local music events and happened upon an upcoming performance by my ex- and his romantic partner. The duo’s title was their two last names. I had not known the GF’s last name and only accidentally learned of her first name when one of my children let it slip. So it was pretty easy to confirm that my ex’s band mate and GF are one in the same.

I’ll back up a bit to explain the situation. Join me in some warm fusilli salad while I fill you in. Although some divorced couples maintain communication, we don’t. Our children were adults when we divorced and now that all financial entanglements have been untangled, we have no “business” reason to communicate. And that’s fine with me. I’m just not feeling the desire to stay in touch.

Right after we divorced, I admit to some minor online stalking of my ex. I wanted to clarify the names of his bands to avoid attending a performance.

But after I had that intel, I had no further interest in e stalking. It was time to move on with my life. So it was a departure for me to snoop on his GF’s social media page.

More back story: this current GF is not the woman my ex took up with soon after we separated. She’s long gone. I was mildly curious about her replacement.

So when I popped open GF’S Facebook page, I saw that she was younger than my ex (and me) and blonde, like her predecessor. A cliché come to life. There are so many “experiential clichés” in life – e.g., middle-aged man buys a sports car.

The GF’s Facebook page had only a few photos and no pictures of my ex. A check of her “status” revealed she was “in a relationship” as of 2013. She didn’t name her significant other, but I knew it was my ex. And then I saw his complimentary comment about her latest photo.

I closed the page.

Here’s the funny part. If my ex came crawling back to me, I wouldn’t have him. Truth: I don’t want him. And yet, it hurts to see evidence of his relationship and how relatively easy it is (and has been) for him to find someone. This is a harsh reality of what I call dating disparity. In general, divorced men have an easier time finding a date, a companion, or a partner, than divorced women – especially in the boomer years. Challenge me on this but this has been my experience and what I have observed.

So when I’m in a dry spell and not meeting any men, when there are no possible relationships in my life, I think about dating disparity and my ex.

In contrast, when I’m dating and have lots of possibilities, there are few thoughts of either dating disparity or my ex.

I’m used to this cycle by now. Dating dry spells can lead to the blues and self-pity. But self-pity doesn’t offer any rewards. To counteract the blues, I learned that it helps to get busy, reach out to friends, do something new.

That’s why even though I knew in advance that opening the GF’s Facebook page might trigger some emotional shakiness; I also knew any blue notes would be brief. It’s called healing.

If you liked this post or any past ones, subscribe to get regular email delivery of Dating, Sex, and Life in your 60s.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

Get your Angries Out

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Have you gotten your angries out? If you’re divorced, widowed, or single following the break-up of a serious relationship, you know what I mean. Whether you were the “dumpee,” the one left behind, or the instigator dumper, there’s bound to be some anger floating around your universe.

I went through an angry phase after my separation. This followed a phase of disbelief, which in turn was preceded by a coma-like period. Got that? Coma – disbelief – anger.

Perhaps you have experienced a marital coma state. In my case, it consisted of several years of slow disengagement from my then husband. When you’re in a coma, you know something is not right but you don’t want to face it, so you ignore it.

When I finally woke up from my coma thanks to a crucial conversation, disbelief set in. After a long marriage, it is indeed hard to believe that it is over. But once you do, it’s time for some healthy anger. Chow down on some angry shrimp as we talk about this emotion.

So once it was clear that I was going to be in a for a long, complicated and painful divorce process, there were lots of triggers for “the angries.”

Let’s run through a list of angry triggers that may resonate with you: the reason for the divorce, the lack of or ineffective attempt at reconciliation, the impact on your family, the impact on your self esteem, the impact on your finances, the actual divorce settlement, etc, etc., etc.

The purpose of this post is not to wallow in anger. It’s to lobby for the benefits of accepting the anger, embracing it while it lasts, and working through it so that you can dismiss it. It’s all part of the healing process.

So back to the end of disbelief. That’s when I started to channel The Incredible Hulk on a periodic basis. I’d be going along, coping, getting the business of healing done and then bam, out of the blue, something would happen to trigger a burst of anger, fortunately without the ripping of clothes and transformation to a green monster.

I remember one instance in particular. I was working out on the elliptical at home, listening to a Pandora station when You Oughta Know by Alanis Morissette came on. I hadn’t been feeling angry but listening to the raw anger of the lyrics (what a perfect break-up song), brought out my own hostile thoughts.

I started to fantasize about a graphic revenge scenario. Think Kill Bill. This was not the kind of thing I typically imagined. As I stepped furiously on the machine, my own personal revenge movie streamed on my consciousness. I increased the volume of the song to fully experience it. When it was over, I was exhausted but somehow I had worked through the anger by working out and hearing another woman’s wrathful tale.

The next time I wanted to exercise, I downloaded You Oughta Know and had a 4-minute angry therapy workout. This plan served me well during the divorce process.

As time went on, bursts of anger got shorter and less frequent. Now, after 6 years of healing, I rarely experience the angries.

If you are newly separated, divorced, or widowed or just never got your angries out, seek out some home-brewed anger therapy. Find your favorite revenge song, strap on those sneakers, and work through that anger.

You’ll feel better, help mend your broken heart and strengthen it at the same time.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

The Broken Ties That Bind

“It’s so funny,” my daughter says when she tells me she is baking her father a vanilla cake for his birthday.

“What?” I ask. I’m driving home from a nice evening at Bohemian Caverns, an iconic DC jazz club I had managed to miss in all of my years in Washington.

Thanks to a jazz and blues Meetup group, I finally experienced the truly cavern-like atmosphere of the dark, mood-lit club. It’s so dark you could indeed surreptitiously stroke a lover’s leg, a fantasy suggested by a first date crush I encountered awhile back.

But I digress – a couple of times. We might as well break for a lunch of Add a Pinch’s baked mahi mahi. Now back to the story.

“What’s funny?” I repeat on speakerphone.

“You and Dad say the same things a lot of the time,” my daughter says.

“Oh, you mean because I wanted a vanilla cake for my birthday too?” I ask.

“Yes. And a lot of things are the same,” she says.

“What do you mean?” I’m starting to get curious.

“Like when I look in his frig, he has a lot of the same foods.”

“Really? That’s surprising since he doesn’t cook,” I assert.

I remember her telling me how he didn’t have much food in his refrigerator when he first moved out of our marital home to what was apparently a small, depressing apartment. Just desserts I had always thought — though, inexplicably, I felt sorry for him too.

“Oh, he cooks,” she says. “It’s more that he has some of the same stuff. You know – lots of vegetables.”

“Well,” I say, not feeling as sensitive as I normally would given my nice evening, “we did live together for a long time.”

I thought about our respective states for a moment. “And we seem to have some of the same medical issues,” I offered. “Like our bad knees.”

“What else?” I ask. I’m getting really curious now. I hadn’t thought of how we grew together and became more similar in quite some time.

“I can’t think of anything else,” she says, “but it happens a lot. And it makes me smile.”

And then I remember how, like many long-time couples, we grew more similar in dozens of little — and some big — ways from liking the same foods to seeking a similar lifestyle in retirement.

And, like many long-married couples (today would have been our 40th wedding anniversary), we also grew apart in big ways.

I am reminded once again of the oddities of life and how love is forever until it’s not.

I’m not the same person he came to not love. I’m stronger, better, more confident and centered, full of creativity, and much less vanilla.

And so we can’t really be the same in any of the big ways any more – even if we both still like vanilla cake.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia