Nicole McCance is a Registered Psychologist. This means she is registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario to provide psychotherapy and assessment services. She is licensed to competently formulate and communicate a psychological diagnosis, if warranted.
A lot of people under estimate how difficult it can be to start dating after divorce, when you have children. You’re likely going to be dating somebody who has kids, as well, which means you’ll have to work around more then just two people’s schedules. If your children are young then you’ll also need to pay for a babysitter increasing the amount of money you’ll be spending to go on dates. Plus at the end of the day when you’ve put your kids to sleep, the last thing you probably want to do is get dolled up, go meet a stranger and hope for the best.
With all these difficulties in mind, I made a list of creative things you can do if you’re in this situation.
Find a date that’s cheap. As mentioned, there’s a good chance you already need to spend cash on a babysitter so why not save money on the actual date. Do something like going for a walk instead, especially if the weather is nice. This also gives you a constant topic of conversation as you can talk about what you’re seeing as you walk. Walking also comes with less pressure than sitting in a restaurant. If you’re shy it can be nerve racking to sit across from someone you don’t know who’ll be staring at you all night. An added bonus, you’ll be getting exercise!
Only meet for coffee or drinks. This is another way to save money since you won’t need to pay for a full meal. If you do find that you’re enjoying yourself you can always order an appetizer. Plus drinks or coffee is much less of a commitment if the date isn’t going well.
Be adventurous. Make a bucket list of things that you personally want to do or see and plan fun dates based on your list! This could include things like going for a hike, going to the beach, a wine tour or festivals in your area.
Overall dating after divorce is more difficult because it’s more complicated but hanging in there is key. Also surrounding yourself with social support, specifically spending time with people who have successfully found love after divorce will keep you both hopeful and inspired!
I ran into a friend the other day at the gym and she started telling me that her and her husband have been renovating their house and they recently bought expensive light fixtures for their kitchen. Once installed, she didn’t like the way the lights looked. She also found herself obsessing about how ugly they were and nagging her husband to take them down. It got to the point that every time she walked into her newly renovated kitchen she was fixated on these eye sores. It even led to a few arguments between them.
After days of dealing with this, her husband gently pointed out that her being bothered by the new expensive light fixtures was a “first world problem.” This was eye opening for her and after hearing that comment, it helped her to let go of the stressful reaction. Instead she switched her focus to the fact that she has the means to renovate her kitchen to begin with.
It’s easy for us to get caught up in the details of our job or how our partner hasn’t emptied out the garage or even how a friend hasn’t gotten back to us yet. We can become obsessed with the little things and allow it to ruin our day or even our week.
My intention is not to minimize what you are going through but to help you change your perspective. The truth is a lot of what we stress about are “first world problems.” What that means is we take for granted how easy our lives actually are. We have clean water, a cold fridge (probably with food in it), access to free healthcare and likely live in safe neighbourhood. Things could be so much worse. Lets remind ourselves of what we do have instead of focusing on what we don’t. Notice how your mood changes, almost instantaneously when you change your focus.
Believe it or not, it actually takes certain skills to be a good friend. By “good friends” I mean people who are supportive, empathetic and may even help you reflect on your life. For example I have clients who tell me that when they reach out to a friend for support they often hear comments like “ I went through the same thing but worse, so I’d rather have what you’re going through now.” This statement minimizes the other person’s feelings and they are less likely to reach out for support, as they may even feel more alone after this conversation.
If you struggle with how to respond to a friend calling you when they’re upset, here are some things to keep in mind:
Don’t change the topic to yourself. A lot of people think that it will help their friend to hear that you relate to their struggle but the truth is if you bring this up right away it can come across as self-centered. Instead, try asking open-ended questions, like “How are you feeling about all this?” When someone is calling you about something that happened they probably want to talk about how it makes them feel so make sure to give them the chance.
Empathize. Say things like “Oh my God, that must be so hard”, or “I can’t imagine what you’re going through.” If the person is angry, get angry with them! Feel their emotions with them and express those emotions back. It can help this person feel better to have that comradely because they want to feel justified.
Validate them. Think about your friend’s history and relate it to how they are feeling, saying things like “It totally makes sense that you would feel this way since the same thing happened to you last time, you must feel so hurt.” At this point you could also mention that you went through something similar and you remember how it made you feel.
As with any skill, being a good friend can be learned. Try practicing these tips the next time a friend, or someone who could become a friend, comes to you with a problem. You may find your friend circle expanding!
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