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January 2012

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Ask Our Coaches: 
Dating after divorce?
Good idea or not?

"What's your advice about asking
someone out after a divorce?"

This column answers questions submitted by our readers. Submit your questions to who will forward them to our coaches all over the world. Each issue, we'll publish a few answers from our RCI coaches.

Dear Coaches,

I want to ask out this woman I know but I'm not sure it's a good idea. She divorced her husband about 4 months ago. I know, through a mutual friend, that she is not dating. I'm not close friends with her, however we do know each other and have interacted over the years.

She's someone I've always liked and so when she divorced, I was actually happy I could pursue her. What's your advice about asking someone out after a divorce? Good idea or not? Is it too soon? She's a great lady and I'd love to get to know her better.


Nina responds …

It's generally not a good idea to date soon after divorce. Recovery time is different for everyone. Women especially need to get to know themselves and their preferences all over again. However, some relationships are dead for so long that recovery is mostly complete by the time the divorce is final and they may be ready to move on.

You say you want to get to know her better and you've waited this long; why not "get to know her better" without having to date? She may welcome a friend to do things with that has no expectations of dating. She may be happy to date you but until you get to know her better as a friend, you'll risk turning her off if she's not ready. You risk being a "rebound" partner.

When someone is used to married life, they may date anybody just to be coupled and feel comfortable again. Then one day they wake up feeling like they're back where they started and you're out. Doing activities together as friends will create the space to discover whether she's ready for dating and you can be checking if your requirements will be met.

Nina Potter | | 1.651.773.0732

Michelle responds …

Getting back into dating or getting into another relationship after separating / divorcing is very different for different people. It depends on so many factors and it's too hard to generalize. If you are interested in her, I suggest asking her out and seeing how it goes. You will very quickly realize if she is ready for a relationship or not.

From my experience (twice divorced), my first divorce took me a while to move on. However, the second time, the marriage was over well before we eventually separated and I was ready immediately to move on and was dating the next month. Take it easy, don't rush into anything. It can be a great idea and may not be too soon; just be honest and have fun.

Michelle Zelig | | +61 413 332612

Jianny responds …

Your sensitivity comes through in asking and I applaud you. It's a good idea to take time apart after divorce. This time is best used to complete the stages of grief which starts prior to filing for divorce: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

People cycle through in no particular order and revisit different stages until reaching complete acceptance of their loss. Ending a marriage represents a loss of hopes and dreams, perhaps a lifestyle and requires learning how to live life without your other half.

Divorce is never easy and it's more distressful than the death of a spouse. Following divorce, individuals need time to heal, and if there are children it is wise to give them time to adjust before introducing another person into their lives.

Your lady friend is the only one who can decide when she's ready to date. Four months may be plenty for her to feel ready to reengage another man. Call her and at the very least be a friend. Allow things to evolve naturally. She may be happy to have male companionship at this stage of her process and, with your sensitivity, she may see you as a gift.

Jianny Adamo |

Jackie responds ...

It seems to me your question invites assumptions or a bit of guessing about this great lady! What if you ask yourself several questions? What do I know about people who are recently divorced? If I have any beliefs, assumptions, concerns or expectations related to pursuing her, what might they be? If I tell myself the truth, what do I really want for myself if I date her?

If you want to ask her out then act on your own behalf and take the action that matches for you. Ask her out. Be the "chooser." Take initiative and responsibility to create your life and love life. Understand that you might be ready and available to date; recognize that she may not be. But that would be true of anyone you might pursue, wouldn't it?

I invite you to consider that part of dating consciously and intentionally is you recognizing if you are ready to date; if you know what you want and have a clear vision for the partner and relationship that will match for you. I encourage you to spend your time and energy learning about YOU and be open to this great lady telling you about her.

Dr. Jackie Black |

Marcy responds …

There is no hard and fast rule about when is the right time for someone to date after a divorce. Since she is not the one writing this question, we don't know what is too soon for her. You might want to have your mutual friend inquire for you. If that is not an option, I would suggest you make contact with her as your first step.

By just having a conversation with her you will be able to know if she is both interested in dating now and if she would like to go out with you. I would let your last statement in your question be your guide: you want to get to know her better. Let her know that. Whether she is ready to date or not, there is a good chance she will be flattered and will welcome a friendship with you at this time.

If she insists she is not ready, accept that as a gift. It may very well mean she is working toward moving away from her marriage and toward the single person she wants to be. Let her know you are patient and you are looking forward to knowing that person!

Marcy Rich | | 1.602.573.6406

Doris responds …

Although it's usually painful, divorce is a precious life transition that offers each member of the split-apart to morph from "Something's missing" to "I'm experiencing new confidence, independence and self-love. I don't need anyone else to make me happy! Yet I'm ready to share some parts of my life with a special person who has similar values and goals."

Many newly-single people feel disoriented for quite a while, at least six months; sometimes years. Most people attempt to avoid the pain of exploring how they co-created relationship difficulties. It's hard for most of us to forgive ourselves and our ex, embracing everything we can learn from "failure." Most people rush into a re-bound relationship, hungering to fill a perceived gap that they alone can fill (with self-love) before embracing a new relationship.

If you're interested in a future romance with this woman, consider the advantages of waiting until she has time to gain the gold nuggets awaiting her discovery. Eventually, she'll trust herself, the process of life and the opposite sex again. She'll radiate wisdom, confidence and compassion. She'll love like she's never been hurt. Meanwhile, relationship coaching can help you discover how to meet your own needs.

Doris Helge, Ph.D. |

Feature Article:
Build Your Community of Support

by Shirley Vollett

Building a network of close, mutually beneficial relationships requires time, effort and intention.
~ David Steele

The benefits of community

We all need and want the support and caring of a loving community of friends and family. When we have triumphs to celebrate or difficulties to surmount, nothing is more satisfying than sharing these profound moments with those we love. These special individuals help ground us, care for us and cheer us on. They let us know that we are accepted and we belong – no matter what.

As I've worked with singles to clarify their values and priorities in life, almost all identify a desire for emotional intimacy. However some fail to realize that emotional intimacy comes from a supportive network of friendships -- not just from a relationship with a "significant other."

Whether or not you're in a primary relationship, you can enjoy emotional intimacy with chosen friends and confidants. Life is immeasurably enriched by cultivating these important connections with others – and in the process, your chances of success in love will increase.

We are social beings and we weren't meant to live in isolation.

In our increasingly mobile society, many of us have lived in a variety of locations, away from the communities we grew up in. We've had to build our communities of support with each move we've made. As growing numbers of us become self-employed, we can also suffer from the isolation of working from home.

Many of us long for what Cheryl Richardson calls "soulful connections"… the kind of connection "that touches your heart and makes you feel grateful for someone's presence in your life." In her book,Take Charge of Your Life, Richardson emphasizes the importance of building a soulful community, to support and encourage you as you make changes in your life for the better.

A strong support community improves the quality of your life as a single, while improving your chances of building a successful relationship.

Some years ago I attended a dinner party with 6 married couples. The talk turned to "how I met my spouse" and the stories began. As I listened to each couple's story, I realized the importance of their support communities in meeting their spouse.

Each couple had been "set-up" or introduced by a mutual friend, who knew they were looking for a relationship. The only couple that hadn't met by a direct introduction, had met at an event that the husband had attended at the suggestion of a friend, who knew he was looking for a partner.

Not only had friends been instrumental in arranging an introduction or "blind date," but that same friend was often a sounding-board for the person as they navigated the initial stages of the relationship. What a wonderful expression of community support!

Once we're in a relationship, we will still need the loving support of significant others.

As David Steele writes in his book Conscious Dating, "A single relationship, no matter how compatible, cannot meet all of our needs." Any committed couple who ignores their need for a community of support does so at the peril of their relationship. Relationships need supportive others to thrive, just as individuals do.

When my sister's husband was battling cancer, they were helped and buoyed by all manner of support from friends and family. Couples can face challenges that overwhelm their personal resources, just as individuals do. Then community is essential.

So how do you feel about YOUR community of support and encouragement?

• Do you have some "cheerleaders" in your corner?
• Do you have confidants with whom you can be completely honest about your thoughts and feelings?
• Do you have people in your life to share activities that you love?
• Do you have people with whom to celebrate holidays or birthdays?
• Do you have professional colleagues with whom to collaborate and brainstorm?

Perhaps it is time to "grow" your community of support.

If so, here are 3 steps to having the network of relationships you desire.

1. Take an inventory of your relationships.

Who are the individuals who populate your life and what kind of relationships do you have with them? List them according to which category they fall into. (Add or delete categories, depending on your situation. Note that some categories may overlap.)

• My closest confidants (people with whom I share my heart, soul and dreams)
• My friends (people with whom I have fun and socialize; perhaps we share an interest, hobby or activity)
• My family or family-of-choice
• My professional community
• My spiritual/creative community
• My neighborhood community

As you review your list, ask yourself what types of relationships you'd like to have more of? Less of? What's missing?

2. Assess the quality of your relationships.

Some relationships actually detract from the quality of our lives. If we are trying to make positive changes in our lives, we may sometimes face the need to let go of relationships that don't support our growth and success. We may also want to cultivate more positive connections.

Cheryl Richardson recommends choosing relationships that FUEL you (that give you energy), as opposed to ones that DRAIN you (that suck your energy). It is very draining to maintain a relationship with individuals who engage in blaming, complaining, shaming, discounting and gossiping. If you don't choose to end such a relationship, you may want to limit your contact or make requests for change.

Relationships that are energy-giving are usually easy to recognize. They tend to feel like an equal give-and-take and you feel appreciated and valued by the other. These relationships are built on honesty, communication and accountability to each other.

Think about your relationships and notice which ones drain you and which fuel you.

3. Identify relationships to deepen or expand.

What relationships that you currently have would you like to deepen? Perhaps you have a friend that you hope could become a close confidant. Or maybe there is a friendship that you've neglected, that you'd like to revive. Is there is an acquaintance that you'd like to explore a friendship with? What steps could you take to cultivate a deepening with someone?

Now ask yourself what types of relationships you'd like to expand. Perhaps you'd like more professional peers to share and collaborate with? Or maybe you'd like to find some new tennis partners or walking buddies? Or maybe it's time to cultivate some brand new friendships, through taking a class or trying out some new activity that you've been wanting to explore? What steps could you take to expand your relationships?

Learning to initiate and deepen friendships strengthens the same "muscle" that you use to initiate and explore a romantic relationship.

Intimacy skills apply with friends or lovers. Developing emotional intimacy skills in your friendships will help you create an intimate relationship – in fact, they just may be the perfect growing edge for right now.

It takes willingness and courage to authentically reach out and initiate supportive relationships. However, the payoff will be a lifetime of caring and sharing with others.

Copyright ©2012 by Shirley Vollett. All rights reserved in all media. Used with permission.

Shirley Vollett

Shirley Vollett BSW PCC is Life & Relationship Coach who loves to help singles avoid past mistakes, rekindle their optimism and create a game plan for finding lasting love.


Bonus Article:
Dating Text-iquette: The 5 Cardinal Sins of Texting and Dating

by Ann Robbins

When to turn it on – or off! In this e-everything world, it seems that texting has overtaken emailing on the popularity scale. Why? Because it's there. It's easy. It's accessible. And, it's now. If I bump into one more person who is exiting an elevator while texting (or rather they bump into me due to eyes glued to the iPhone) I swear … enough said.

The great thing about texting when getting to know your newest flame – or establishing a regular and ongoing relationship with your oldest flame – is that it enables us to silently keep in touch. It's easy to shoot of a quick text at work to your honey with romantic thoughts – something you'd never do via phone in case a co-worker, or worse, your boss, is able to hear. Texting is covert, fun, sexy.

The bad thing about texting is it's so d*** impersonal. It makes me want to say, "If you want to tell me something, please call me"… or at least, put it all in one text. And please don't use up my texting allotment by sending me the short phrased, bullet point texts: Text 1: Hi! Text 2: How are you today? Text 3: Are we getting together? Text 4: Tonight? Pleeeease …

But let's look at the context of texting when dating. Especially dating in its early stages. The 5 Cardinal Sins are as follows:

#1 Never, never, never text someone you've just met to ask them out on a date. Do not ever (am I clear?) do this – ever. Save this for when you're at least exclusive, and it's a quick last minute thought or a spur of the moment idea and you're unable to make a phone call.

#2 Don't be that annoying after-the-first-date texter – "I had a great time, would love to see you again." For God's sake, just call.

#3 Put the phone away on the date! Unless your stock broker texts you and tells you your fortune has just tripled, nothing can be that important. But, if the phone is put away, you'll never know this, right? My point exactly. Texting on a date is just plain rude. The only thing more rude is actually talking on the phone! (What, you can actually talk on a cell phone?? I never knew that!)

#4 Resist the urge to snoop. Case in point – your date gets up to use the restroom and has left his/her phone on the table. Hmmmm, you say, I wonder who …. Stop right there.

#5 Don't change plans, cancel dates, or (this actually happened to a client of mine) break up with someone via text. Are you kidding me? Just step up and make the call. (By the way, you should never break up via phone OR text. That's the most cowardly – and cruel – way to end a relationship.)

Of course – there could be a few exceptions to the above. For example, if you're a single parent and your child/ren are with a babysitter, it's understandable you have to remain accessible. In that case, keep your phone on vibrate or silent and check it every so often. Let your date know ahead of time this is what you will be doing

One final thought – there is nothing more beautiful to a budding romance than the sound of each other's voice. It's your call!

Copyright ©2012 by Ann Robbins. All rights reserved in all media. Used with permission.

Ann Robbins

Ann Robbins is a Certified Professional Matchmaker and Master Certified Relationship Coach and CEO of LifeWorks Matchmaking LLC. 1.954.561.4498


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