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Dating After Divorce

by Ariel & Shya Kane


Sometimes people come to us with a problem or a question but they’re looking in the wrong place for answers. When they direct their attention to what is really going on, their "problems" are easy to solve.

Such was the case with Kat, a petite young woman who has straight brown hair that falls past her shoulders and a captivating smile. When we sat down with her, Kat had been legally separated from her husband for nearly a year. In the state of New York where she resides, the law requires that couples wishing to divorce wait for a one-year period before initiating the final divorce proceedings. During this waiting period, Kat had begun dating.

"There’s a guy that I really, really like," Kat enthused. "We’ve been on a few dates but he doesn’t feel the same way about me."

"Forget him," Ariel said, jumping right into the conversation.

"That’s exactly what I was going to say," Shya said. "Find another guy. You live in New York City. You probably have a hundred thousand excellent prospects—just on your block!" Shya added jokingly. "Aside from that, you are a beautiful woman."

We have often met people who fixate on one disinterested party to the exclusion of all others. It’s as if the whole world of potential candidates for dating and relationship ceases to exist while standing in the shadow of that one fantasy "someone." Obviously, if Kat had been thinking with a clearer head, she wouldn’t really want someone who didn’t find her attractive or desirable...or would she? Perhaps unrequited attraction fit the bill quite nicely.

"He’s convenient," Ariel said. "Where are you currently in your divorce proceedings? When will that become a reality?"

Kat became serious. "I can file for divorce in a few months and then I think it takes a few months after that before everything is finalized."

"Then this new guy is very convenient," Ariel smiled.

"How so?" Kat asked leaning forward.

"Because you are honorable," Ariel explained. "Even though you and your ex have been separated for some time, you once exchanged wedding vows with him which have not yet been legally dissolved. On some level there is a part of you that is maneuvering to remain honorable to those vows. Which means that somebody who has no interest in you, rather than somebody who is your life mate, is really convenient at this time."

"Oh my goodness, I didn’t see that," Kat said, clearly delighted. "That is very cool."

"The other thing is, you have issues around intimacy," Shya said. "You won’t have to deal with them with someone who doesn’t want to be with you. You focus on the rejection and wonder, ‘What’s wrong with me that he doesn’t want to be with me?’ rather than, ‘What if we get intimate and I have to deal with my inhibitions?’"

"Yes," Kat nodded. "That’s right."

"You can come forward," Ariel continued, "and he isn’t going to reciprocate. But what about when you come forward and the person turns his full interest on you?"

As she spoke, Ariel turned away from Kat and then turned back, eyes wide and smiling, bringing her attention completely to Kat.

"Well," Kat replied, noticeably uncomfortable, "that usually freaks me out."

"It freaks you out when I do it, and we aren’t even dating," Ariel said as we all laughed. "This man that you ‘really, really like’ currently fills a whole number of wonderful avoidance mechanisms."

"That is very cool," Kat said, "because I’ve often wondered why I am so interested in not only this guy, but other people who aren’t available."

"Because that way you have no commitment," Shya said.

"It’s not a problem then," Ariel added, "it’s a solution. You may as well enjoy it. Instead of looking for another person to have a relationship with, maybe you should just have fun dating."

"Yes," Shya agreed. But as he began speaking, Kat didn’t turn to look at him. Rather, she kept her attention focused on Ariel, even though Ariel had clearly finished her sentence and had already made her point.

"Ahh," Shya said. "That’s very interesting. I notice that it took you a while to look at me when I started speaking. You still have stuff going on with men, Kat. You don’t want to be dominated by them or told what to do—not even to have your attention requested in an interaction. When I started speaking I was an intrusion. You were having a conversation with your girlfriend. Now, unless you want a love relationship with a girl, you need to include men when they speak to you."

This was really good information for Kat as she began her dating life anew. Many times, particularly if your previous relationship was combative or if you are carrying around incompletions with your dad, you will be less than responsive to a man as he talks to you. It was as if even simple conversations had to get through a maze, while Kat was busy proving to herself that she was not being dominated.

You might wonder if "not wanting to be told what to do" contributed to Kat’s marriage ending in the first place. Perhaps. But that wasn’t relevant at that moment. However, if Kat ultimately wanted a Match Made in Heaven, she needed to discover how to include men and listen to them rather than automatically resist them.

"Start to pay attention to how guarded you are, Kat," said Shya. "You don’t have to be afraid that this conversation is leading anywhere, like a date where you might have to confront being intimate. I’m safe because I’m not trying to strike up a romantic relationship with you. I don’t need a date." Shya smiled and playfully nudged Ariel. "I’ve got this one."

Kat flashed us a smile as she relaxed even further. It might have been easy to miss her guarded nature initially because she has such a ready smile and is so personable and attractive.

"This is a really good time frame for you to practice being intimate," Ariel said. "I know one of your jobs is being a waitress. One thing you can do, whether your customers are couples or singles, is to actually connect with them. Just keep practicing connection. When you go to Starbucks and order a coffee, connect. Then it won’t be as much of a challenge when you’re ready and free to actually fully connect with someone romantically again."

"Oh," Kat said, "that’s wonderful. Thank you."

"You are very welcome," we said.

Since 1987, internationally acclaimed authors, seminar leaders, and business consultants Ariel and Shya Kane have taught individuals, couples and organizations across the globe how to live in the moment and unwire the knee-jerk behaviors that get in the way of living life with ease. Together for 30 years and counting, people still ask Ariel and Shya if they are on their honeymoon. How to Have A Match Made in Heaven: A Transformational Approach to Dating, Relating and Marriage is available everywhere books are sold. For more information about the book, the Kanes and their seminars, visit www.MatchMadeinHeavenBook.com .


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