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Dating? Be Wiser, Not Sadder but Wiser

Shelly's been divorced for several years and finally in the mood to start dating again. Like most women, she took a long time for her broken heart to heal. She waited until her every thought wasn't about her lost love. She lived with the pain, knowing that she wasn't ready for a new relationship because she wasn't emotionally available and had nothing to give. The few dates she had were disasters 'everything reminded her of her ex or made her anxious 'so she took a time out.

She got busy doing other things. She made a life with her children, poured herself into her job and volunteer work.

One day she realized there was something missing in her life, and that dating sounded good. She was ready for a new relationship. She had ignored herself and her needs for long enough, and was hungry for the love and attention of a man. She had a lot to give.

So what does she find when she steps out into the dating world in earnest?

She finds Anthony. Anthony's separated and has filed for divorce. He's sure he's going to go through with the divorce, is excruciatingly lonely, and in extreme pain, so, like most men, he's going to make the pain go away as fast as he can, by finding the love of another woman.

It doesn't matter a whole lot to Bill who the woman is, just as long as it's now. While not exactly mindful about it, a nurturing, motherly type would be nice, someone who - ll take care of him and not cause him a lot of 'trouble.'

So we have a woman who's waited too long, and has a lot to give, and a man who hasn't waited long enough, who wants to be given a lot.

Pain and suffering. They're a part of life we don't like to think about, don't like to see others have, and don't like to have ourselves. Breaking up with someone we love is so hard on us, it's almost incomprehensible that in the US the first-marriage divorce rate is 50%; the second-marriage divorce rate, 60%; and the third-marriage divorce rate, 70%.

Somebody isn't learning something!

Men react to emotional pain the way they do to most emotions -- as a call to action. If a man loses the love of a woman, he will go out and find the love of another woman. He is not always discriminating about this, nor does he take his time. These transitional relationships usually end abruptly when he does begin to heal, and feels good about himself again.

Women react to emotional pain the way they do to most emotions -- feeling them, dealing with them, turning to work and service to others and being reluctant to get involved again.

Women feel the feelings. Men solve the problem.

Imagine the futility and pain when the woman who has waited too long hooks up with the man freshly divorced and moving too fast too soon. She is looking for the new true-love of her life. He is looking for a temporary solution to his problem.

This is a common scenario, and not a good one. The love affair can be a heated one, but one destined to abort, abruptly. Either the man begins to regain his equilibrium and self-esteem, and leaves for what to him are greener pastures, or the woman gets tired of giving and not getting, sees through the smoke screen finally, and reluctantly takes her heart elsewhere. Pain, disillusion, guilt, and anger are the results. And lost time.

The solution? Awareness. Communication. Some EQ (emotional intelligence). The man in this scenario is going to be coming forward with both barrels loaded, and that's one sign to look for. Protestations of love, promises of babies, and trips to the Caribbean 'too much too soon, too good to be true. Women who - ve dated men in this shape via the Internet tell me they've been proposed to by the 3rd email. It's heady stuff, and if you've been waiting a long time, hard to resist.

Is this real love? you wonder. Does he mean what he says? How do you judge something like this? Know the scenario, first of all. Then, keep your head about you.

Postponing sex is one good way to keep your head about you. A man who is really interested in a woman for who she is, is more than willing to wait. A man who needs a woman right now, any woman, is not. If that's all he wants and you deny, better to find out sooner than later.

Those wonderful chemicals released in physical intimacy cloud everything and escalate emotions for women. If you're just after a nice affair, then go in with your eyes wide open and hang on to your heart. Those wonderful chemicals are the best antidote in the world for depression, so he's looking.

BTW, according to a recent survey, only 2% of women think sex on the first date is appropriate, and only 20% of men, so if it's suggested, wonder why.

It's highly unlikely someone who has just met you sees the real you and loves you 'as you've always wanted to be loved' in the space of a few days. It happens, but I wouldn't count on it.

Protect yourself, and take your time. Good things don't need to be rushed; they tolerate a wait quite well. Listen to what he says in the between-times, and what he does. Obsessing about his ex, being overly demanding, being unable to tolerate arguments, over-reacting to your requests, calling them 'demands' and 'pressure,' and showing ambivalence are all signs that you're going to be the 'transitional affair - > If you get emotionally involved, you're going to have your heart served to you on a platter.

This has to be something you do on your own, incidentally. (Coaching is good for objective feedback.) Asking directly won't produce an honest answer, because likely he's driven, in denial, and not able to be honest with himself.

Should you date a man newly-divorced (or separated), I mean for more than idle entertainment? Since so many men rush into the next affair, even the next marriage, it's hard to catch one who's truly ready and emotionally available for a relationship, but it may be worth your time to let some of the adorable newly-divorced (or separated) ones go elsewhere to cut their teeth considering that the second-marriage divorce rate is even higher than the first. If he rushes on to another broken-heart, it doesn't mean you need to!

Keep your smarts about you, and good luck!

About the Author
Susan Dunn, MA Psychology, Emotional Intelligence Coach, I help people become better communicators and develop their emotional intelligence through coaching, Internet courses and ebooks. Susan is the author of "Nonverbal Communication."

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