Tag Archives: Kasl

Back in the Saddle: Thoughts about when to start dating again

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Divorce seems to be an epidemic amongst people my age (meaning in the middle of expected life).  At least ten friends of mine have gotten a divorce in the last two years or are currently in the process of getting divorced and it the national average for divorce in the U.S. is holding steady at 50% according to National Center for Health Statistics.  As a result of so many people finding themselves suddenly single, the question of when to begin dating is a regular topic of conversation.

My take on that issue is this:  When you are ready.  Now I must define what I mean by “ready”.  It is disturbing to witness so many people jumping onto online dating sights minutes after they or their spouse has moved out of the primary residence.  (or in the case of my tennis playing friend from a previous post, prior to even a verbal agreement to divorce between himself and his wife).  In my opinion the mere physical separation of spouses does not constitute availability.  (See the aforementioned blog post for my definition of available.) According to Charlotte Kasl, of IF THE BUDDHA DATED fame, a newly separated person is just beginning on a painful path of deconstructing a marriage and lacks the energy and attention to nurture a new love.

Of course, there is the possibility that these people are not looking for a new love but just want a hook up – which is fine if that is what they want and the other party involved is OK with that as well.  But I smell a desperation about this behavior of dating before the marital bed is cold.  I think people react out of fear of loneliness.

When people ask me what my thoughts are on when to date, I suggest that they get the divorce settled and then work on themselves for a while.  Fill the space of the former spouse with things for yourself rather than another person.  Go to therapy, sign up for  a class in a subject area or for a hobby you have always wanted to try,  take that trip you have always talked about- basically get to know yourself again.  You will know you are ready to date when you can be discerning.  When you know yourself better so that you can better identify what it is you want in a partner.

The other sign that it is the right time to start dating is when you feel confident enough in yourself that you can cull the undesirables easily because at this point in life there is no time to waste on the men that simply are not right for you.

What are your thoughts on when is a good time to begin dating following a divorce?

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The Core of Longing

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OK.  This is philosophical.

If you have been following along so far, you know that I am doing some work on myself, which I believe is totally necessary for anyone to be prepared for a healthy relationship – particularly for people like me who are relationship challenged.  The good news is that I have been, for many years, working in the right direction in terms of collecting tools to make a relationship work.  The bad news I have been using them incorrectly. (More on that in future blog.)

Today I want to share a fantastic summary of what I ultimately want in a relationship as brilliantly defined by Charlotte Kasl in her book If The Buddha Dated:

Our longing is also our desire to be known completely. Imagine having your beloved look tenderly into your eyes, knowing all your secrets, having seen you be crabby and sweet, selfish and generous, and still truly loving you. Imagine being able to do the same.  That is the potential of a conscious relationship.

Based on what I have been reading and learning by observation of successful relationships (yes, I actually know couples who are in healthy, functional committed relationships) is that a key ingredient for achieving the above described love is honesty and the ability to express one’s needs, emotions and opinions healthfully and to have those communications be respectfully listened to and vice verse.  Therefore it is paramount that THE man has those capabilities.

In the previous paragraph Kasl describes my second biggest fear (following abuse) in a relationship, what I call the zombie effect:

If you seek only refuge, security, and comfort, you imprison your relationship and the vitality will wane.  Krishnamurti, the renowned spiritual teacher and author of numerous books, wrote, “If in a relationship there is no tension [meaning no deepening of knowledge of self and others], it ceases to be a relationship and merely becomes a comfortable sleep state, an opiate- which most people want and prefer.”

Security will be important this time around but must be one of several factors to consider.  Dear DBT, please keep this in mind.

COMING SOON:  what I am looking for in a man….

The Big Sell

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When I was a small child, I was inundated with messages about love and romance via classic fairly tales as interpreted by Walt Disney.  I was relentlessly exposed to stories of handsome princes rescuing beautiful princesses in various states of peril (endless sleep, a deathlike sleep, trapped in a tower by a witch, enslaved by a mean step-mother).  Intentional or not, some grooves were carved into the vinyl of my concept of finding a mate that have yet to me melted down or scratched out.
One is that romantic love is true everlasting love and that love at first sight is the only way to know it is real.  In all of these fairy tales the love interests fall for each other immediately upon initial meeting.  Yes, that can happen.  You hear stories all the time from couples that they knew he/she was the ONE the first time their eyes met.  But that is lust people.  Lust can grow into love but it is not everlasting love.
I cannot count how many times I thought I found love at first sight and -newsflash- it didn’t stick.  I had a lot of fun with some of those people until we discovered that there was nothing substantial on which to build a true lasting relationship. Time was wasted, opportunities may have been lost , and someone always got hurt while we were preoccupied with all that fun.
Romantic love fades and there has to be more than that initial rush leads you to believe to keep things going.  (But don’t think that you can allow the romance to fade completely either because that is certain doom.  More on that in an upcoming post to be titled, 27 proposals.)
Another message learned was the idea that love conquers all.  After twelve years of loving someone I thought I could fix/help/heal if I loved them enough, I can tell you that love alone cannot conquer all.  Things like financial harmony, good communication, satisfying sex and common goals and common interests while maintaining your individuality play a huge factor in the long term success of a committed relationship.
I know that I don’t need a man to be “awakened”, fulfilled or otherwise to be happy as Snow White, Sleeping Beauty or most other fairytales suggest.  I am generally a happy person as I am. I  actually adore living alone.  But I also generally enjoy being part of a couple, caring for someone and being their biggest cheerleader.
My friend David Robbins once described his search for a mate thusly, “I just want someone who’s got my back and I’ve got theirs.”  I want that too, a partner to work with rather than a prince or a project. But first I have some fairytale unlearning to do.
I plan to begin with a book given to me by my friend Julie titled, IF THE BUDDHA DATED by Charlotte Kasl and a 12 step relationship program (seriously).
 I am determined to get it right this time.
*image courtesy of google images