A first relationship after divorce can be as thrilling as it is anxiety-inducing. Many people wonder if their first serious relationship after divorce can actually last or if it's doomed to be a rebound while others just want to have some fun after leaving a marriage.
Repeating the Past
Dating coach Lori Gorshow cautions newly-single people to take care to not jump into a relationship similar to the marriage out of a need for comfort. "Relationships created during and following a divorce tend to have many similarities to the previous marriage. Moreover, these new relationship have many of the same problems," explains Gorshow. "The reason is simple. We choose our partners based on our level of comfort and ease with them. This is not on a conscious level. We don't think our way through choosing a partner. We let it naturally happen. The problem arises when we realize that the same issues, concerns and behaviors of our ex are eerily similar to that of our new partner."
Avoiding the Repeat
It takes quite a bit of self-searching to avoid repeating the same behaviors that led to the end of a marriage. The key, says Gorshow, is to learn from the past before going forth into the future. "The problem isn't with the new person, the problem lies with us. If we don't learn from our past and actively change our behavior, we repeat what we have not learned." If you have learned from your previous experience, then your 1st relationship after divorce won't be too soon.
Taking it Slow
Some people are shocked by how quickly the first post-divorce rebound relationship can move, even when they have the best intentions of taking things slowly with the first girlfriend after divorce (or boyfriend). Gorshow references the above advice about not learning from the past as a possible explanation for why things move so quickly.
A Successful Relationship Post-Divorce
While a newly-divorced person may feel like it's important to focus on themselves, a successful relationship requires considering the feelings and needs of the other person. "It is important to look at the other person, see and hear his thoughts, feelings and concerns," says Gorshow.
Don't Fear Confrontation
It's also important to not fear confrontation - a common fear among those who just left an explosive marriage fraught with arguments. "Fighting in a relationship is normal, having the skills to listen and problem-solve are what is important," says Gorshow. "Another way to look at this is the same skills are used to handle problems and concerns regardless of the relationship between two people."
Lose the Baggage
It's easy to fall into old habits when it comes to relationships, but projecting your anger or insecurities from your ex onto your new partner can spell disaster for the relationship. Do your best to regard the new relationship for what it is: a new relationship with a new person. If needs be, continually remind yourself, "(New partner) is not (ex)." While a new partner certainly doesn't guarantee a flawless relationship, your new partner deserves the opportunity to be with you free from the psychological baggage of your previous marriage. It's the only way to give the new relationship any chance of being successful.
It Can Work
Your first relationship post-divorce may turn out to be something wonderful and lasting - or it may simply be another learning experience. Either way, relationships after divorce can help in the healing process.