The first post-divorce dance

images-1I would never have guessed that one of the most difficult rites of passage after divorce was a first dance with a new man.

If you’re like me, you may have slow danced with very few men other than your husband during your marriage (assuming he danced at all), unless you took dancing lessons that encouraged partner swapping. When I danced with another man it was typically a fast dance where we could do our own thing.

About a year after my divorce, a group of colleagues decided to go country western dancing. I love dancing so enthusiastically accepted the invitation.

One man took many of the gals in his van, with a few other guys saying they’d join us in a little while. After we got settled at a table, the gals began taking turns dancing with our one lone guy.

My turn on the floor with him was to a country two-step, with which I had but minimal familiarity. I felt stiff and awkward, even though my pal tried to lead me. He kept telling me to relax which did the opposite, triggering my feelings of ineptness and wondering if I was missing the “following” gene.

Struggling to stay in step, I was near tears when the song was thankfully over. I wondered why I was so emotional when my friend was just trying to help me have fun.

I realized part of the emotion was my missing the hand-in-glove comfort one feels when having had the same dance partner for decades. You know what to expect. You know his moves. You can relax and just feel the music and the connection to each other.

So I not only felt incompetent, I felt the loss of my companion of 20 years.

Often it’s small things that trigger sadness and loss of the good things from a relationship. And those triggers can be present for years — decades for some people. So if you find yourself getting emotional over something like a dance, don’t blame your partner or yourself. Just be willing to stay with the emotion and look at the core cause.

Sometimes I still feel I’m not the greatest follower. But I work to stay present to what’s going on in the moment and enjoy whatever happens — even if his or my toes get a little mashed along the way.

What have you found to be difficult newly single firsts?


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4 responses to “The first post-divorce dance”

  1. RA Butters Avatar
    RA Butters

    You oughta get a load of the “firsts” after becoming a widow. Talk about feeling the loss of your companion. And those firsts keep coming up, surprising you …. literally years later, you think you’ve been through every “first” and then one pops up, and there you are dealing with the pain all over again. Trying to stay present in now without comparing it to then is the only way through them.

  2. Seductress Avatar

    Oh yes, the firsts. You’re right, you never know when they will hit you in a sad, sentimental or humorous way.
    Don’t be too hard on yourself. You had to deal with the emotions of it being a ‘first’ and learning and new and difficult dance.

    Following a man on the dancefloor can be especially difficult and near impossible when he is not a good leader. I danced with a man one time who was such an incredible dance partner in that he ‘led’ so well, I could not have missed a step if I wanted to.
    It was a dance I did not know yet he swung me to and fro, this way and that so effortlessly that I laughed with delight. I felt like a great dancer and I didn’t even know what I was doing!
    Not very many men can lead that way which is why being in a long term relationship where you learn each other’s signals and movements can be just as satisfying and wonderful.

    And why dancing with a stranger can be so horrifying!

  3. Kay Kelison Avatar

    An awesome blog, glad I came across it. Thanks – Kay

  4. Frumpalicious Avatar

    I remember the first dance after being married for 18 years then divorced. The guy was trying hard to seduce me, and since my ex rarely said a kind word to me, hearing this stranger tell me I was beautiful was intoxicating. At first. Then it became down right scary. I fled to my car, keys shaking and zoomed out of the bar parking lot. I saw my first dance partner standing there, with a dumbfounded look on his face. I shook and cried all the way home. It took me a while to get used to it all. Now, it’s like brushing teeth!