Dear Liz, One of my best friends separated from her husband about one year ago. She was over the relationship a long time before she finally ended it and, honestly, it was long overdue. She began to date almost immediately and has been doing the "single" thing for this whole time. I know that she is moving on and she is ready for a real relationship. So far she's just been dating and testing the waters. Having been so young when she first got married, she is having a re-birth of sorts in her contact with the opposite sex. But then she has these moments of utter frustration and depression. Although she is pleasantly surprised at the success that she has had in dating, she is not truly happy. She is very scared to be alone and fears that she will never find the "one." I don't know what to tell her anymore. I want her to know that she is deserving of true love and that there is someone out there for her -for everyone. She needs to just be patient and put herself out there a little more. What else can I tell her? We (her closest friends) do what we can to be supportive and listen. We let her know how important and special she is. She has an adult daughter who is her rock and I know that she lets her know the same. Is there something else that we can say or do to help our friend, maybe somewhere else we can suggest to look for Mr. Right? Is there a self-help book on dating that you might recommend?
Signal Hill, Calif.
Hi, and thanks for writing. What an amazing friend you are, you sound like an incredibly close and supportive group of women, which is such a huge blessing for your soon to be divorced friend. I know it’s not easy to watch the people we love suffer in any way. And although she sounds to have made a clean needed beak, no one gets through a divorce without the fear filled, emotionally painful transition, it’s an integral part of the split. What’s tough to know if you haven’t experienced it, is that the emotions are so tricky, they come on quickly and then change just as fast. One day she’ll seem fine I’m sure, and the next, she’s a mess; this is classic emotional navigation that follows divorce. Honestly it’s important you and your friends understand that what you see her facing is to be expected. Slowly over time your friend will find her footing and trust it. One year out is nothing in comparison to the length of her marriage if she has a grown child. Much as we want to help and fix and assure, how your friend adjusts to her new life is her choice. No one can do it for her. It’s such a personal experience. Finding your way back from years and years of a partnership, to living alone, facing the world as a solo…rather than a couple it’s beyond what most of us can imagine. The good news is? When she does come to find her way, to believe in herself whether with a man or not, and believes she can live a wonderful full life…you will see it. It’s truly one of the most empowering things to watch in someone you love.It forces a growth she would undoubtedly never have experienced. Far as dating and other men and finding the “one?” Everyone is different in their experience, most importantly they need to go at their own pace and listen to themselves. Sounds as though your friend needs time to live with her new self and life. She will find her way, we all do. The notion of finding someone new with whom she can share her life could be too much to ingest right now.
The most significant support she receives will be from her friends. Reaching out to learn the stages of post divorce is a good idea. You could look into several books that can walk a person through the stages and the process and can help them identify exactly what they’re feeling, which is of comfort for many. Dating isn’t really a skill, but it feels so foreign when you’ve been married a long time. It’s never a bad idea to imagine this might be the time she has to work and focus on herself, and her strength and ability to see the world from her single point of view. And when the time is right and the guy is right, she’ll know it.
I hope I’ve shed a little light in some direction. I do suggest you and the gang of women perhaps curb your sharing that she’ll find someone one day. She may need to find herself first, nurture that.
Get her a great book on divorce-
curb the attention and talk about finding someone right now or even eventually-
Support her new found strength and ability to be on her own-
Make sure to include her in any of the events that are couple oriented-
She is one lucky woman to have all your support it will help her more than you know! Great things for all of you.