First Breakup After Divorce. Why does it hurt so much more?
We all know that divorce can be excruciatingly painful, but what about our first breakup after divorce? I have been hearing more people reporting that the pain from this can sometimes feel even more devastating than the divorce itself...
I remember my close encounter with this experience…
I had recently announced to my girlfriends that I was going to be on dating hiatus for at least one year, just as soon as the summer was over. I had come to realize that I truly needed some time to be totally alone, to reflect, heal and really find myself.
It was the end of a crazy summer and my girlfriends and I had gone out for one last hurrah at a night club at the shore (we thought it would be appropriate before my official loner time was to begin.) However, shortly after getting there… in walks in this hunky guy with surfer hair and a really nice physique. Not interested I thought… I thought wrong...
Skip, to make a long story short, this gentleman and I went on to have a fiery hot relationship for 4+ months. But it was more than fun, for me, it was deeply spiritual. I felt I was falling hard for this man, but knowing full well that my mind was a giant knot of confusion, hidden emotions, and complete utter chaos, I had to end it. I had to end the most substantial and deeply connected relationship I had ever experienced, up until that point in my life. I had been able to be spiritual with him on a whole new level. The problem? He was on his own journey and quest to find himself AND I had not gone through the healing process from my divorce.
One of the many mistakes I made while coming close to emotional extinction after my divorce, was going on a dating rampage for over a year. I became a serial dater. Nothing ever serious -I made sure it was always casual. Although I didn’t acknowledge it at the time, I was running away… I was trying to escape the unescapable. - My deepest grief.
To say it was painful to end my new relationship, was the understatement of the year... I was devastated... I cried and wept. And, I remember thinking, what many women have said to me in the past: “this hurts so much more than my divorce.”
How could this be?
Because much like many of these women, I did not process my divorce. Sure, I finally got up from my pathetic pool of tears, determined to get through it, I went to the gym, went to work, went out on a gazillion dates, and so on… But I did not give myself the much-needed space I needed to truly feel everything... to go through all the stages of grief. So, when my relationship with this gentleman ended, the floodgates opened. And I was consumed with grief, guilt, and everything else I had not reconciled from my previous marriage.
I see this so often. People getting into serious relationships rather quickly without really healing from their divorce, without soul-searching, processing or reflecting on mistakes. They call these relationships: rebound relationships.
And many times people do this out of fear. Fear of being alone, fear of never loving again. Other times, much like my story, this is about escaping. You don’t want to feel. You don’t want to face the pain that your divorce has left with, or you just want to fill the void you feel from no longer having your partner.
Some jump into new relationships to feel desirable again. Their divorce left them with their self-esteem in the gutter, so they are looking to feel good about themselves. Having someone fawning over you, while you are in this state, can surely feel like it might do the trick.
There are several reasons why many people jump into a new relationship too quickly. But there are a couple of problems with this:
#1- Your emotions are not settled. Your mind is all over the place, which makes you vulnerable. When you are in a vulnerable state of mind, you can’t see the red flags very easily... or, you are quick to dismiss things that you know are not good for you in the long run.
For others, being in this state of mind brings out feelings of jealousy, insecurity, or paranoia which ultimately breaks the relationship. And finally, when you are in this state of unsettledness, finding someone you are very attracted to, may cause you to confuse sex with love.
#2 If you get into a new relationship without healing first, you will be carrying all of the baggage, and pent-up emotions from your past inside of you. And you will move them onto your new relationship. (We all know emotions don’t just go away, they need to be processed.) And when the new relationship ends, all the negative emotions, anger, rage, sadness, resentment, etc. come up to the surface in full force. It is like shaking a soda bottle and opening it. What happens? It explodes! So you feel absolutely devastated and consumed with grief.
I should mention- This is not always the case, of course. There are always exceptions to the rule. If you left a marriage that was already dead, where the love was gone for many years and you were ok, and you both made peace with this, there is a chance you can get back into dating. But I still would not recommend it just yet. I will always say to take some time to be with just you. The new, single you. Date yourself for a bit. Get to know yourself on a different level. Because oftentimes, people don’t realize how much of themselves they put away in their marriage or how much of themselves they never got to know at all.
So, to summarize, I would say the reason a breakup after divorce can feel like it’s more painful than your divorce, is not so much about the new person, but it’s because you are grieving the divorce in this breakup. You maybe reliving the end of your marriage all over again, or maybe even for the first time.
If you are still not sure, just think about it- did you take time to yourself? did you take the time & space you needed to self-reflect and introspect? Do you feel like you went through the grieving process and healed? If you didn’t, there is your answer.
So, if you are going through this heartbreak now, go back & take a look at what’s going on inside you. Write out your feelings out in a journal. Identify your emotions and go through them. You may still need to go through acceptance or forgiveness. Whatever the loose end is, please get back to it. Work through this because the last thing you want to do is to settle, get married again -to the wrong person... or, end up divorced again.
2nd marriage divorce rates are so much higher than 1st for this reason! So it’s really important to grieve the loss. And remember, there is no rush... Take as much time as you need...
And If you find that this is in fact the road you took, it's ok… It happens... Forgive yourself.
You were vulnerable and scared. We have all been there at some point. Divorce can leave us feeling broken or unworthy, and sometimes people will do things and make poor choices that are not the best for us because we just want to alleviate this pain. But you are not broken or unworthy. On the contrary. You are a whole, wonderful human being all on your own. It’s time for you to finally see this.