Where are you on the relationship recovery path?

DG reader Devon wrote:

All divorced people are in a different place along the post-divorce road. I met someone wonderful last summer, attraction, chemistry, great sex, good conversation and we had fun. It lasted 3 months, I was ready for a companion, he was still recovering from the break up of his family and the stress of a recent divorce. After 4 years of being single I have a different outlook and want something different than a newly divorced man. I wonder if anyone has put a name to the stages of recovery from divorce, there must be similar things people go through. I would guess we all go through a rediscovery of (good) sex.

Some of the men I’ve dated might have been keepers if the timing had been better. Since the healing process is different for everyone the whole thing is rather unpredictable. Any thoughts?

Good point, Devon. Yes, I think there are stages of recovery after a the end of an important relationship. However, it can be hard to identify where you are in your own recovery, let alone determine someone else’s. Here are some steps on the path.

First, you need to grieve the loss of the relationship and your life with your ex. If you jump too soon into a new relationship, you aren’t fully available to be with a new person.

The path includes admitting how you contributed — even a bit — to the decline of the relationship, even if he treated you hideously. If you don’t look at why you got into or stayed in a dysfunctional relationship, you’re doomed to repeat the same pattern until you identify your part and work to heal it.

Once you are healed, you learn (if you hadn’t already) how to enjoy time by yourself without needing a man in your life. Once you are centered and happy, you can choose to open your heart to another and begin dating. If you start before this point, you will be frustrated and disappointed about the men who you attract to you. Even after this point, you may still attract men who are not good matches. But it’s all part of the process if you learn from it and don’t make judgments about “all men are jerks, cads, sex crazed, etc.”

What are your thoughts on the relationship recovery path? Are there steps missing in the above? What would you add? How do you know where you are on the path — or how to tell where someone else is?

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8 responses to “Where are you on the relationship recovery path?”

  1. Kaye Avatar

    Rebuilding by Fisher and Alberti is one such book, I’m sure there are others. They list and discuss 19 steps.

  2. nysharon Avatar

    There should be a step where you date for fun and not look for a relationship.

  3. Ally Avatar

    I’m sure one could apply Kubler-Ross’s 5 Stages of Loss in there – Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. Would it be wise to date someone before they started coming out of the Depression phase?

  4. Ellen Avatar

    One of the early questions I ask a new date is to share what went wrong in his marriage. This gives me a window into his recovery and also if he has accepted responsibility for his part in the failure of his marriage. If a guy just slams his ex-wife, even calling her names, and shows no understanding or responsibility for his part, then I won’t date him. And really, seeing someone when they’re in the process of recovery is risky, since they might be needy and then move on when they feel better about themselves. If you want to date an emotionally healthy guy, give them time to get over it and grow from their mistakes and ask lots of open questions to find this out.

    xo Ellen

  5. Gatti Avatar

    Someone nastily dissing the ex is the first sign for me that they are not over it and may also have an anger or abuse problem as well. Avoid, avoid!!!

  6. Susan Avatar

    I don’t nastily discuss my ex, but privately I feel his is a pain in the arse. I wish there were some way to permanently extricate him from my life. It’s not so much an anger problem, but he is constantly irratating me with arguments over the children, which he MUST win, no matter how untenable his position. I don’t think he is over it.

    No matter where you are in your recovery, if your ex creates problems for you, then it makes it hard to have a new relationship without some of the old baggage seeping into the new relationship.

    I’m in the stage of thorough exasperation!

  7. hunter Avatar

    to susan,

    how awful, I am sorry to hear that….

  8. nysharon Avatar

    Susan–I’ve been there and when I was dating in my early separation days I made those mistakes of complaining to my dates. All that agitation from the ex is a power play on his part and saps your emotional energy. At some point I just stopped responding or told him I didn’t care. It eventually irons out if you don’t keep getting pulled in. Hang in there.

    PS.There is a good book about handling Toxic People by Lillian Glass, check it out.