Relationships: When the Flame Goes Out
Lately, people are remaining single, planning a wedding or getting a divorce and in the past 10 years, remaining single and getting a divorce are the popular choices. And nobody has a clue how we got here. Now we all have our theories and popular blogs like Elite Daily, Refinery29, PopSugar and various other popular online magazines have plenty of articles to clue society in on what everyone can do to get a date and make a relationship last till the end of time. Yet, it is clear the articles are not working and everyone is just settling for an undefined thing with someone.
When dating and relationship advice is given, it's given with the best intentions to help someone find love or prevent separation but is advice what a person really needs or what someone wants to hear, after repeated rejection or defeat in a relationship and especially, after a marriage has ended. We tell each other to be patient you will find Mr. Right or you will meet an attractive intelligent woman. But should we give any advice at all? Most of us are in the same situation and the success rate of a relationship or marriage is low. It may be viewed as harsh or a cynical observation but maybe, we should stop with the what went wrong assumptions and supportive B.S. when it comes to dating and marriage. The Bachelor has been on the air forever and there have been only four truly successful marriages from the bachelor and bachelorette so clearly, there are some personal issues we all are dealing with and maybe the reason many people are still single. Granted, it is a television series but I think it gives some insight into relationships and the mentality of women and men. The show presents the anxiety of interaction among genders.
“I didn't have fear because I was in an abusive marriage. I had no sense of who I was. "
- Bethany, 38
For the past few weeks, I have been talking to women whose marriage or relationship has ended and while listening to them I realized I have been an advice guru too. I have said the traditional supportive things such as, "You will get through it" while thinking, "just move on...he was a jerk". We all have said and thought about something tasteless while talking to someone whose relationship has ended and have said the supportive thing everyone wants to hear when seeking a partner, which may or may not be a lie. We are never a true friend and say what we truly observe from our friends when they are in a relationship, dating, or just having a “thing” with someone. Being a friend is helping him or her through difficult times and communicating on all levels. Yet, we can’t open our mouths to say…“Hey, you are choosing the wrong men”, “ You are self -absorbed and did not consider her needs, that is why you are single” or simply ask, “ Do you see any red flags?”. Also, as sensitive as everyone is in society today and everyone is teetering towards being offended or oppressed, what good would it do and one would simply just anger a friend.
Second, we truly try to have sympathy for our friends and there are others who truly have empathy for a divorcee or someone seeking a potential mate. So we asked a few women who are going through a divorce or have gone through a divorce what they have learned about the relationship and what they felt during the experience of their divorce.
After accepting there is a mutual agreement a marriage is finally over and divorce is final. Other than the emotional hurt one feels and self-doubt because a courtship has failed; What is the mental fear you face trying to move forward to regain your sense of you?
"I didn't have fear because I was in an abusive marriage. I had no sense of who I was. " - Bethany, 38
"It is actually liberating because you are free to be yourself or truly seek after what it is you desire. Being married is a constant compromise and meeting in the middle. The difference is, you have companionship and accountability within a marriage. Loss of self and loss of what had been invested in our marriage. A disruption to life's plan and goals for us. The loss of companionship and going it alone. The fear and sadness of no one to share in life's successes, accomplishments, or to dream with. When school is complete and the one who inspired me to continue my education is no longer there to congratulate me. When the house we both had worked so hard to pay off is finally paid, but the accomplishment becomes meaningless alone. When you watch the children you both invested your lives in grow and mature, but can't look them in the eyes, smile and say we did this. When I hold my newborn grandchildren, who will I share that joy with?” - Annie, 29
"Trust is a major fear. Both the fear in one’s ability to trust their own decision-making abilities, and the ability to trust others." - Catherine, 45
"In my situation, the only fear I had was what other people would think. As far as regaining a sense of me, that’s what lead to the divorce in the first place. I take full responsibility for my part in the demise in the marriage and part of that is we shouldn’t have been married In the first place. I should have been honest with my feelings and honesty saves everyone time. Now I wholeheartedly loved that person and cared for them and went Above and Beyond for them in the relationship for years and I truly convinced myself that I should be married to them. But my gut and inner spirit told me otherwise and I didn’t listen. I got heavily involved with my ex when my father was dying and after he died and emotions got me tied up with a person and family I never should have been involved with." - Jennifer, 34
“Well, my situation was a little different and it probably led to me finding my sense of self and overcoming my fears after we divorced. I "was" having an emotional affair with a younger guy during and after my divorce. The other guy helped me survive the whole process and I started to develop feelings for him and I did not even think about my ex anymore at that time. I didn't have any emotional attachment to him anymore, I despised him because my ex did everything to financially ruin me. The emotional hurt and despair came later when I started dating the younger guy. He is my love. We were involved for 5 years and he turned out to be a total fake and lied and betrayed me to an extent that I did not even know existed. I was in total denial for years. And to this day I still think about him daily and am far from healed. “
- Ellie, 48
After reading their replies, I thought about my own personal fears. Do we chose people based on our state of mind and is our state of mind the determining factor in dating today?