I have a group that I belong to that is for folks who are in, or are trying to remove themselves from, relationships with narcissistic exes. These folks (men and women) are helping me to keep my sanity. We talk about everything from our children to finances to work to frustrations and hopelessness.
And periodically, someone will ask, “When is it time to start dating?” or, “How do you know this is a good person?”
Both good questions, both made that much more complicated if there are children involved.
And both I learned the lesson to, the hard way, so my initial response is, “Never. There aren’t any.”
Nope, not bitter or cynical at all.
And it’s so interesting because I did all of the reading, checked in with the available “experts” and still made my own decision based on what felt right to me at the time.
Who I should have checked in with, and really listened to, is my children.
They seem to have WAY better douchebag detectors than their mother.
If only they’d been there when I said “Yes.”
But actually, this isn’t meant to be about my stupid mistake. This is about when and who.
Because, from what I’ve seen, those folks who get immediately involved with someone else, usually end up with a broken heart. Not always, mind you, but certainly more often than not.
Divorce sucks. There’s no way around that, even when you are the person who can’t wait to get out of the marriage. Even if it’s amicable, mutual and respectful. It just plain old sucks.
So then, you (I) get involved with someone who is most likely vastly different from the person to whom you were married and not only is it wonderful to feel loved and probably have an active sex life once again, but because this person seems to be all that your spouse wasn’t, you feel like you’ve grown, evolved and learned.
And maybe you have, and maybe with this person, you actually will have the opportunity for a lot of growth and self-exploration. But, from my experienced and expert perspective, if you haven’t taken that time to be alone, to feel the agony of the divorce and to truly rediscover who you actually are as a person, the relationship is doomed.
Because seriously, you are not the same person you were when you walked down the aisle and you won’t be the same person that you were in a shitty marriage – if you give yourself recovery time.
I didn’t and ended up with someone even more destructive than my former husband.
And we won’t even talk about what’s happened to my ex.
The thing is, that time to figure out me was basically forced on me in an incredibly mean way, and every single day, I am thankful for it. Who I am today and who I was for the last 40 some odd years are barely even the same gal.
This gal wouldn’t make those same stupid stupid stupid mistakes.
This gal can figure out who’s a good person.
And this gal can walk away from someone who isn’t.
So the answer to the questions…
“If you have to ask, then not yet, and (s)he’s not.”