Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Going Online To Meet Post-Divorce

Gone online to meet someone post-divorce is a great idea. But beware, if you had no doubts before, surely after the Manti Te'o fiasco you are taking a hard look at your online relationships. If you're not, I'm here to suggest that you do so. It's important to be smart about online relationships. Recognize them for what they are  and accept their limitations.

Questions to ask:

·         Q. Should I be concerned that s/he doesn't want to meet me offline? 

A. Yes! You should absolutely be concerned if s/he only wants to talk online. Not wanting a real face-to-face says s/he definitely has something to hide. It could be the same thing that explains why s/he's never available in the evening or on the weekend. Someone who doesn't want to meet you is not a girl/boyfriend, friend or any other type of intimate. They're just someone you talk to online. 

·         Q. Why am I always the one initiating contact? 

A. Great question. It's easy to be a little needy post-divorce. Men are even more likely to feel a need to jump right into another relationship. Guys, it may not be fun, but it's okay to feel a little pain and it's probably necessary to really move on. Bottom line, although she's quick to respond and flirt when you contact her, it's still a sign that she might not be that into you. In fact, it's a sign that she's likely not that into you. Set a timeframe during which the relationship has to progress. If it doesn't, it's time to move on.

·         Q. Am I spending too much time with people online?

A. Maybe. Your high school boyfriend, with whom many re-establish contact post-divorce, who you haven't seen in 15 years, is not your boyfriend. Why are you spending hours chatting him up online? It didn't work out the first time, right? You might consider what you are not doing that you would be doing if you spent less time online.  Like having dinner with your friends or working out at the gym where you might meet a real boyfriend. Consider adopting a rule of spending at least as much time with real-life friends as on-line friends. You can also try a little technology cleanse.

·         Q. How long do I go without a face-to-face?

A. I'm talking in person, not Face Timing or Skyping. What are you getting out of the online contact and what are you missing out on? One recent study concluded that only real-life friends lead us to feel happier. Another study found that you can have a lot of online friends, but you won't feel supported by them the same way you do by your real-life friends. This is particularly true for people after a breakup. Online chats, texts and even phone calls are for getting to know someone. Once that's done, it's time to move on and meet up, or end it.

·        Q. Why can't I find her on Goggle 

A. I'll bet Manti wishes he'd asked himself this question. Not everyone has a huge internet presence, but you can tell where they ought to show up. Someone who graduates from Stanford should appear on an alumni list and a professional should be listed on a licensing website. The absence of this type of confirmation ought to raise your suspicions. You can always ask the person about it. Any reasonable person meeting online would understand your desire for a little concrete validation that they're who they say they are. After all, people lie.

 Ask yourself these questions and answer them honestly. Then move away from any imaginary boyfriends you uncover and keep it real.

 An earlier version of this post appeared at YourTango.

Fake Friends, Joan Jett

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Post-Divorce Dating...Don't Fake It Online

Tempted to enhance your image online post-divorce? Don't do it!

I am quoted in this article about why people create imaginary relationships online at YourTango.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Don't Get Burned By Your Post-Divorce Anger

Although every divorce is unique, most result in an abundance of post-divorce anger. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that and it's quite normal. It's unresolved anger that is corrosive and toxic. Like being in a burning house, it sucks the life out of you. Acknowledging persistent anger, and committing to do something about it, is step one. Step two is managing your anger. Here are some things to try:

·         Laughter. It's a great antidote to anger. Laughing often, preferably at yourself, helps you recover. I am a huge fan of not taking oneself too seriously. It always helps to try to see the humor in things. If Tig Notaro can joke about cancer in her standup routine, you can joke about your divorce. It's human nature to make light of tragedy, but sometimes you have to give yourself permission to indulge in gallows humor.

·         Humanizing. Your once-significant other is a real person, not a monster or an all-powerful being. He may have done monstrous things and held a lot of power over you, but that's behind you. Especially if you have kids, no matter what their ages, it's healthier to speak of him in non-pejorative terms. It's a lot easier to do that if you start thinking of him more benignly, as just a mere human.

·         Empathy. It helps the humanizing process. I know the idea of empathy for your ex might be a little bit of a stretch. But here's the thing. Empathy is a way to decrease anger. Putting yourself in his shoes, you can probably figure out just what he was thinking and perhaps even why he did the cowardly, childish and otherwise-annoying things he did. And then you can try to understand it.

·         Listening. Pay attention and see if you can understand what your ex is trying to communicate. You're probably always assuming the worse. You may or may not be correct, but it doesn't matter. Real conversations involve curiosity, interest and focus, great skills to practice for your next relationship. Listening also helps you humanize and empathize. You don't have to agree, you just have to listen. Then choose your response with care.

·         Bad decision blocking. One way to respond with care is to moderate electronic communications carefully. They can be left in draft form while you decide whether or not to send, or even written with no intention to ever send. Do not send while angry, stressed or drinking. If necessary, there's an app for your phone. And no Facebook stalking. When communicating in real-time, don't start a conversation you know will involve conflict when you’re in a hurry or feeling stressed out. There's no app for this, but thank you caller ID.

·         Kindness. As we say in the South, kill him with kindness. This is not meant to be taken literally. Remember, you don't always have to say what you think out loud. It's often best not to. Mindfulness, especially the loving kindness meditation, where you express loving thoughts toward yourself and others, is great for cultivating a kinder, gentler you. Emphasize the bit in loving kindness where you focus on someone you definitely don't love.

As the Buddha purportedly said, Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else…You are the one who gets burned. Keep that in mind and be cool.

This blog was originally published at YourTango.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Top Tips Toward Wellness

It's the new year and time to focus on those resolutions. Read my newsletter about wellness for my top tips.

 I'd also like to invite you to join my Post-Divorce virtual group, Move Into Post-Divorce Life… Enjoy the Journey. Contact me for more information, and to start your new year off moving in a positive direction.

 Happy New Year and thanks for reading my blog!