Divorce was never a word in my vocabulary.
The concept of my marriage not working out never once crossed my mind.
I never gave thought to not trusting my husband, not trusting our vows.
I never imagined I would become a single mother or have a reason to read the entire collection of Mars vs. Venus books, keeping them in my nightstand drawer for easy access reference in order to understand men. Not man, we are talking plural here, men.
When my divorce first became reality, I felt as though the demise of my marriage was caused by a combination of bad random luck and craziness on my husband's part. I mean, who would ever let me go?
They say you shouldn't start dating again for one full year after your divorce is final. I highly doubt that people wait that long although I do understand the reasoning behind why you should.
I didn't wait the recommended one year, however, I did wait a good amount of time from when my marriage fell apart to when I felt over my husband as much as necessary in order to have interest in dating again.
I was lucky in that it only took a couple of random (and awful) dates to find someone I liked enough to date and enough to call my boyfriend.
I was carefree and trusting in that relationship from the start, not at all phased or scarred from my divorce.
Until that post-divorce relationship failed.
The reasons for that relationship not working aren't all that important right now (except to say that my boyfriend was still going through a divorce and probably wasn't the right time for him to be dating) but what is crucial is how I handled it and what happened to my feelings and approach to dating afterwards.
That breakup broke my heart pretty bad.
Having your heart broken after divorce isn't a totally bad thing though. It offers you another level of divorce-healing because if someone else can break your heart, it must mean you are more over your divorce than you even realized.
At the time I was still completely naïve to men, to dating, to dating after divorce and all of the things that can go wrong in relationships.
I met my husband at the age of twenty and we were married only a few years later. Our relationship back then progressed naturally and easily, life was flowing the way I thought that it should...until the divorce hit and I lost my innocence.
My eyes have been more opened than ever to the jaded side of dating after divorce.
The baggage people carry, the issues and conditions and games that are played have all contributed to my inability to stop waiting for the other shoe to drop when I am involved with someone from Mars.
Please don't let my ranting admission here make you think I am some pessimist. Not the case at all. I am happy by nature, forever a glass half full optimist.
When it comes to my dating life though over the last few years, I have come to expect things to NOT work out.
I mean, if my marriage was able to fail and subsequent relationships haven't worked out either, what do you want me to think?
My radar is up for all sorts of red flags, studying men for signs and symptoms of what could be wrong with them.
Is this normal? Is this the way to go about dating?
Yes and no. It is important not to rush into relationships, not to think your new guy is perfect because he is tall and dreamy and brings you chocolate cake.
At some point, however, it just has to be possible to accept that a man is who he says he is.
And, who he claims to be matches what you believe to be as well as correlates perfectly with the google searches you did while conducting Operation Red Flag.
All I want is to surrender those red flag for white flags.
White flags would mean I have let the walls down, walls I didn't even realize were built so high up.
White flags would signify my search is over, that I could finally relax and enjoy that slice of chocolate cake that was brought to me by a man who understands I probably won't share a bite or even a crumb.
I swear I am only selfish when it comes to dessert.
Meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles
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