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Dating After Grief

Man and Woman dating, cartoon

Grief

Dating After Grief

Man and woman dating, Adobe

Dating After Grief

When I started dating, I stuck a toe in the water of the online dating pool. It was at a time in my life when I felt alone and I was doubtful of my footing. I was divorced and my support system was gone.

My extraordinary parents died nine weeks apart, and I was still a little dazed and unsure of myself. But I wanted to be connected to the world and I wanted to know that I was showing up as who I really was and not some imposter who was stuck in grieving.

How To Gain Dating Confidence

There are a lot of clichés which try to soothe and inspire those in the aftermath of a breakup. “There’s a lid for every pot” and “a lot of fish in the sea” are two takes on the subject. Their message being, that there’s someone for everyone and a lot to choose from. But sometimes, the sheer plethora of choices is overwhelming. When choosing becomes limiting, we often substitute it for being afraid of making a mistake or being unhappy and we choose to do nothing. We exchange experiencing life and learning from our mistakes for being too careful at the beginning. We forget that we are choosing for ourselves and that completing a relationship and starting again teaches us about ourselves in a way that we cannot do on our own. And it builds confidence.

Looking For Friendship

So, that’s how I started dating. I am not interested in being anyone’s girlfriend was my platform. In fact, I thought I was clever in coining the term “activities partners” to describe what I was looking for. Basically, there would be no commitment, no strings, no sex, and no exclusivity. We would just go out and do things together in a purely platonic fashion – enjoy each other’s company and that’s it. And I would be doing this with lots of guys at the same time. Don’t be falling in love: I was firm on that one. If feelings started getting in the way, they needed to be communicated; the point wasn’t to hurt anyone, just to relax and have some fun. If you’re looking for a long-term relationship – I’m not the girl for you was my motto … and I left it to the guy to figure it out for himself. I choose for me and you choose for you. My boundaries were clear, or so I thought…

Playing The Field Or Being A Player

There was, in fact, a downside that hadn’t occurred to me, however. I was accused on more than one occasion of being a player. There it was, the term often associated with guys who are off playing the field while in a relationship. The guys who subscribe to a don’t ask-don’t tell policy as it pertains to their love lives and who play with the hearts of all involved with them. I was cast, by some, into this dishonest lot.

Saying Good-Bye

Of course, the mere fact that I was open about dating other guys wasn’t enough for some; shaming and blaming was their game and soon it became easier to spot and steer clear of such characters. I found most guys to be great about it, though. They didn’t pressure me to move into an exclusive relationship or to “pick” them; there was no trying to convince me or making me wrong for my choices.  And when something showed up that I wasn’t comfortable with, I ended it and moved on. No explanation required. It was no one’s fault – we simply weren’t a good fit. I would choose being alone over unhealthy with greater ease. I was learning.

Being Myself Instead Of Fitting In

Men found me charming and mysterious, and often described feeling inspired because of how I felt about myself.  After about a year, the feedback was synonymous among them and I knew I wasn’t trying to fit in or trying to be something that I wasn’t … I was simply being me. It was time to move from a lot of fish in the sea to finding the lid.


If you need help with relationships, visit Recovery Guidance, a free patient resource to find professionals near you.

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Elizabeth is a certified Educational Specialist and Success Coach. She has a BA, MS in biology with a concentration in ethology (animal behavior), is an EAGALA Equine Specialist in equine assisted learning and personal development, and has extensive personal leadership skills. She spent much of her career in education at the high school, college and correctional facility levels teaching biology & chemistry and acting in the capacity of a success coach. Elizabeth presents workshops and seminars which address communication issues as they manifest in personal relationships. She uses writing as both a creative and cathartic outlet, especially after losing both of her parents to cancer in 2015. She lives in upstate NY, on a farm that bears the name of her motto: Be Unreasonable! She's invested in empowering others in moving their pieces forward in the world.

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