Dating after divorce can be a lot of fun. The prospects! The possibilities! It can also become overwhelming as you begin figuring out your wants and needs post-divorce versus a potential partner’s. Confusion may set in. You may also feel lonely and vulnerable, which is why it’s essential to establish and then protect specific boundaries from the beginning, so you don’t have regrets or feel you have been taken advantage of later. Here are six.
Treat your body as if it’s your most prized possession. That means guarding it with your life because, to be honest, if you don’t, one misstep could cost you your life or, at a minimum, the quality of it. Use condoms. Have yourself regularly tested for STIs if you’re sexually active. And never let anyone convince you to engage in any sexual activity you don’t feel comfortable with yet. If you don’t trust yourself and believe you will get carried away in the moment, keep yourself out of situations where that might happen. It’s always okay to say you’re not ready. It’s also okay to say to hell with anyone who doesn’t respect you for saying it.
Like your body, time is precious. Never, never allow someone to waste yours. That includes the time you spend thinking about a person who doesn’t deserve it. If you’re dating someone who isn’t showing you the attention you are looking for, is consistently late, cancels plans repeatedly, or otherwise tries to keep you on the hook by checking in and making empty promises, unhook yourself and find someone who values your time as much as you do. Switching gears, if you think just because you have “time in” you should stay in a relationship that leaves you dissatisfied, think again. You are throwing good money after bad by hanging on. Count your lessons, and your blessings, then clock out.
The love you have to give is a gift. Bestow it wisely.
It may sound callous but love, like any other commodity, has a price. Relationships cost money. From the date itself to travel time to the opportunity cost of spending your resources elsewhere, there is a corresponding dollar amount. If you believe the balance of economic power with your partner is unfair, speak up. Relationships, especially at midlife and after a divorce, are fraught with complications, money ranking among the most common of them. Your idea of what the financial picture should look like with a partner or potential partner may not be the same as theirs. The only way around any miscommunication is to discuss money and expectations, sooner rather than later.
Manipulators and emotional abusers come in all shapes and sizes. The problem is when you first meet, these people are often charming, complimentary, supportive, and sweet. Slowly, however, these characteristics go by way of the dodo. Bottom line, you know how you feel. Listen to your gut. If you have a pit in your stomach because a guy’s words don’t match his actions, he gaslights you when you question why 2 + 2 can’t possibly equal 5, and he undermines your confidence by giving you subtle (or not so subtle) jabs at your appearance, career, body, or anything else of value to you, evaluate why it is you’re feeling this way. Chances are, you’re not the crazy one. He is.
There’s a verse in the Bible that tells us, “[a]bove all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23, NIV) Falling in love is ethereal, that is when you fall in love with someone who loves and treats you well. When you fall in love with someone who treats you poorly, doesn’t show you respect, or fails to care for you in the ways you need and deserve, the heartache you will experience can negatively affect how you see the world and, in turn, permeate every aspect of your life. The love you have to give is a gift. Bestow it wisely.
Allowing the person you’re dating to violate any of the above boundaries ultimately breaks what should be your strongest boundary: your dignity. You are unique and special and deserving of a partner worthy of you. Know your value, and don’t ever let someone sell you short of it.
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