“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.”
Once a settlement is made, you can now rid yourself permanently of Lousy memories and lousy stuff. Whatever Lousy has left behind can be donated or sold. If it's more than you know what to do with, ask friends to come over and help you. Donate unwanted items to your local charity shop, Goodwill or Salvation Army. The more valuable items can be sold at local consignment stores, on Craigslist or Ebay. If you have a boxes of books to get rid of, then inquire about donating them to a school or your local library, or sell them online on Half.com.
Note to ladies: if you are selling large items that you can't carry yourself, then only allow potential buyers to come over if and when you have someone with you. Safety in numbers, as they say. It is preferable to move larger items close to the front door or into a garage to keep strangers out of the house. Smaller items that you can 'deliver' can be viewed and exchanged at a nearby public place, like in front of your local grocery store. Never provide your home address or your household makeup information to strangers if you can help it.
Have a ring or other jewelry that you will never, ever wear again? Sell it on I Do Now I Don't and turn that bling into cha-ching!
Did Lousy dictate a bland home environment that never met your style or tastes? Did you have to live with creepy little figurines or ugly motifs that just depressed you? Now you can start over and personalize your space. We don't suggest knocking down walls, especially if you rent! but make your space feel like yours. An inexpensive change may be the addition of some new plants, new accent pillows on the sofa, or new bed linens. Bigger splurges could be replacing the carpet, redecorating the kitchen, or go ahead... get that stuffed animal head you always wanted to hang on the wall! You are no longer beholden to Lousy's influence.
With divorce rates staggeringly high (about 50%) you will have lots of company. It is important to find things that you like to do. Do you enjoy learning about wine? Do you spend a lot of time at the gym? Do you like cooking? Do you enjoy learning new languages? By pursuing these passions and hobbies, you will position yourself to meet like-minded people.
We talk about the things to consider and steps to take in our other sections, but once you have de-Loused, you can put time into not only meeting your needs, but in helping others. Look into community activites, volunteering or mentoring. You are never too young or too old to be involved. This is a positive step in rebuilding your life without spending a lot of money, while doing good and meeting people. The best thing about volunteering is you set your own work schedule - if you can't commit more than Saturday mornings, then that's what they get. Some great well-known organizations include Habitat for Humanity, American Red Cross and Big Brother Big Sisters. There are probably a hundred opportunities within your community just waiting for you. You have skills and experience that can help in any number of places including your local library, schools and shelters and animal rescues.
This is the fun part of not being married anymore! It takes a while to get there, some longer than others, and totally depends on the individual. You may need to spend a bit of time alone regrouping, and grieving your deep loss. One shrink told us that it takes about two years after a divorce to get to a point where you can have a proper relationship after a lousy entanglement. In the meantime, try having a little fun...you certainly deserve it!
An old saying goes "there's the one that helps you through, and then, there's the ONE". In other words, you're probably not going to bump into your soul-mate immediately. With this in mind, be open to companionship and dating. Get out there - be charming, upbeat, and fun to be around. Try not to talk about your LousySpouse! It brings negative energy to the date, and in the event your date has or had a LousySpouse, the conversation will quickly spiral into a sea of lousy-ness. Keep conversations light, and if all else fails, talk about the weather. Have fun and try to enjoy your time getting to know someone new!
Keep an open mind. Things that were important to you the first time around may not be as much anymore. Don’t think too much or overanalyze – but do trust your instincts! Remember, you now know what Lousy looks like – don’t set yourself up to make the same mistake twice. If you smell a teeny scent of lousy – then move on.
While you need to move on, don't push yourself too hard. Jane has found that it took over a year to be able to accept a flirtatious look from an admirer without being completely uncomfortable. When you are still in process of a divorce you may still feel committed to that relationship even if Lousy is already in a new relationship.
Also be mindful of the people you are dating, you may be vulnerable. They don't always have your best interest in mind. Just because you may have known them for a while, and they act sympathetic never forget that actions speak louder then words. "If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck." They could just be preying on your emotional vulnerability and could be out for themselves. Not to make you all paranoid, but remember, all of this advice is from our experience...Just take care of yourself.
When you are ready, you can invest in an online dating service. You know who we mean - Jane met her husband online, and though he didn't turn out to be her Prince Charming after all, she'll be ready when she tries again. Going the online route is nothing to be embarassed about! It does not say to the world that you are desperate - it says that you are smart and are taking charge of your destiny. You are now better armed with experience to find a relationship that meets your needs. Your Lousy was just a stepping-stone to your happily-ever-after.
Dating as a Parent
If you are legally separated and want to get out there, then go discreetly. If you have kids, and you are not yet divorced, then keep your personal activities to yourself. Kids do not appreciate that there is a difference between 'married' and 'legally separated'. And also, try not to make too big a deal of whomever you are dating to your kids. Just play it cool as if you are introducing a regular friend. They do not need to get attached to someone new, and then have that person go away when the relationship is over. It is one more good bye for them that they just don't need.
Be cautious about the example you are setting. What kind of spouse do you want your child to be someday? We don't suggest that you become a model of virtue and purity, but keep the dates outside of the home, sleepovers occuring only on nights that you don't have custody. Your child does not need to know who, or how many you are spending time with.
Also - don't use your child or your children's world to scout for dates. When you are with your children, focus on them. It's okay to meet other single parents, and it's okay to date them, but tarting up for a third-graders play, or chatting up all the moms without rings is not only tacky, it's a little pathetic. Don't embarass your child, you will never be cool enough. Be casual about exchanging numbers - find a valid reason to ask for one!
Last thing: never, ever ask your child (under 18) to help you find a date. That is involving an immature, inexperienced and unqualified person in your adult world. They don't need the pressure, nor the embarassment. Keep it to yourself.
Okay, we can all get excited about meeting new people and dating... that is the fun part, but please proceed with caution with someone that you do not know well. An old fashioned girl may not be as street savvy as her younger counterparts, so we're just going to tell you a few things that all should keep in mind:
- Avoid the temptation of dating coworkers. This can be troublesome for too many people, and unless one of you finds another job, keep it down to harmless flirting. It may feel natural to lean on someone you spend all day with, but there are so many reasons this is a bad idea, do we really have to get into that?
- If you want to try online dating - go for it! Always be honest, just don't share specific info - your address, home phone number, where you work, last name, children's names, etc. Use a recent photo, and don't meet someone without at least a dozen honest email exchanges.
- Remember that you can get very involved with someone online, but never send them money or photos of your children. Yeah, I said it... Remember: NOBODY can fall in love without meeting in person. Teach that to your children too!
- Always meet in a public place where there are lots of people around. This is true for blind dates of any kind... you nor your friend knows a stalker when you meet one.
- Do not use drugs or alcohol to bolster your confidence or as a means of recreation. This is no time to start a bad habit or to lower your guard. Seriously, save it for time with close and trusted friends.
- Don't get in his or her car until you know them better. There are so many reasons for this, we won't detail them.
- Once you get to know someone, in person, and you want to let your guard down - check them out. Meet their friends and/or family and/or coworkers. If those people are hesitant to shake your hand, look you in the eye, or treat you with respect then take the hint and run for the hills!! Nothing reveals a person's character better than the people they associate with. If there are no friends to meet, then there's another big flashing yellow light!
- Not sure if they're lousy? It's hard to tell from initial meetings, but there's no reason you can't do a little research. Divorce records are public information unless sealed by the court. Did he tell you he's paying (or should be paying) child support for 8 kids from 3 mothers? Did she not mention that she's not actually divorced yet, nor has anyone filed for a divorce? Felony records are available in many states, usually for a small fee from the state. Did he mention being in prison for embezzlement? Did she share that she loves wine so much that she's been charged with DUI/DWI several times? Do your homework.
- Don't be in a big, fired-up hurry to get hitched again... have you not learned anything?
- Oh, and one last thing... don't forget 'protection' at all times... the last thing you need is a surprise pregnancy or some weird STD from your rebound fling. The brave new world can be a little icky.
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Please Note: The information provided herein is a guide only. Our readers and members should seek professional help from counselors, financial experts and attorneys as needed. Stories contained herein have been altered to secure the privacy of others.