It was a surprising statement from someone I didn’t know well. But it got me thinking. How am I different than I was 5 years ago when my ex left? What has caused the change? Do I like me more now?
As I reflected on his comment and my answers to the questions, I realized I was different. How am I different in ways this colleague might notice, since he only sees me twice a year at our professional association meetings? I think I am more playful and flirtatious. I’m willing to wear sexier attire at our formal events. I think I smile more and am less up tight.
Not that being married would preclude any of those behaviors. But I think the divorce caused me to intensely reflect on my behaviors. Then going through the dating gauntlet repeatedly and learning that more often than not the men I meet find me attractive has given me a new confidence. I was always confident professionally, but didn’t feel especially attractive to men other than my husband when I was married, and didn’t welcome opportunities to find out if I was.
I’ve noticed many people are bitter after a divorce or LTR breakup. They are unhappy and it shows through their body language, dress and attitude. They don’t feel attractive so they aren’t. They could be good looking but their demeanor telegraphs ugliness. They aren’t attracting anyone. Which makes them more bitter: “There aren’t any good men/women out there,” “All the good ones are taken.”
Are you more attractive now, even if you have the same hair cut, wear the same clothes, and are in the same shape as before? If you’ve worked through your hurt, anger and/or guilt, you likely have a lighter, happier facial expression, stand straighter and exude openness. You may smile or laugh more often or more quickly. You make eye contact longer. You may even perceive yourself differently and try a new hair cut, new clothes style or exercise more.
If you don’t like yourself better now, why not? Do you feel you have to be in a loving, committed relationship to be happy? Can’t you be happy and a loving relationship will just make you happier?
You are the only person who can make you happy or unhappy. If you don’t like something about yourself, then focus on changing it. No one will ever be completely happy with all aspects of themselves, but if we are intent on improving, we can’t help liking ourselves more now than in the past.
Have you considered how you are different than when you were last in a long-term relationship? If someone you hadn’t seen since then were to spend time with you now, what would they notice is different? If you are different, what caused the change? And most importantly, do you like yourself better now?