Photo Credit: iStock
By Arianna Jeret
Romeo and Juliet. Sid and Nancy. Jack and Rose. Ah, there’s nothing quite like first love.
According to Facebook, 15 percent of married couples attended the same high school and 28 percent attended the same college. I’d guess only a portion of those crazy college kids married their first love, but let’s say they all did, for a total of 43 percent of married couples who were also first loves. Seems maybe first love doesn’t get enough credit.
Except, shoot — there’s that whole 44 percent divorce rate thing.
So why do people expect their first love after divorce to be the one, when so many of us thought our first love was the one, and fewer than half of us were right? Based on Chaitali Phatak’s recent article “10 Reasons Why Your First Relationship Was Not Perfect,” here’s my take:
1. “You both were [too] immature to understand the gravity of your relationship.”
First love post-divorce: You are like a young puppy dog begging for attention, and getting that attention far outweighs the bigger picture.
Most divorcing couples have not only been sleeping in separate bedrooms for years, they have stopped bothering to notice and acknowledge their partners’ wonderful qualities. Suddenly being told you are a beautiful woman or an accomplished man by someone you find hot and are allowed to date feels ah-mazing!
2. “You’re blinded by the idea of love and believing that everything is perfect.”
First love post-divorce: You’re blinded by a fantasy that THIS is the reason you were meant to live through that first marriage.
Divorce is confusing. It is tough and not necessarily healthy to look back at everything that went wrong and figure out exactly what happened. Here comes Mr. or Ms. Wonderful, and now you know just why this was all meant to be.
3. “Over the period of time, you grow as an individual and your likes and dislikes change.”
First love post-divorce: You have grown and changed over the course of your marriage, and you still don’t know who you really are.
The first thought to cross many a mind after a divorce is “At last, I can be myself again!” Of course, it has probably been a good 10 years or more since you have been that self you are talking about, so the real question is who have you become, and where do all of you want to go?
4. “As you come in contact with the world, you realize there’s a lot to explore.”
First love post-divorce: As you come in contact with the world, you realize there’s a lot to explore.
Just like when you went off to work or college after high school, there are so many exciting opportunities to explore in world now, especially if you have joint custody and therefore a lot more time on your hands. Try stand up paddle boarding! Go out and actually see a movie while it is still in the theater! And the sex! It gets so much better without the hang-ups, fumbles and insecurities you had back in the day. This can bond you tighter (for the good or the better), or heighten your curiosity about what else is out there even more.
5. “Since you both don’t know how to react to things, every fight makes you overthink.”
First love post-divorce: You got used to a certain way of fighting with your spouse, and every fight with your new love gives you flashbacks.
Even if your ex cheated, you can’t assume that any time your new love does something without you he is off with some other chick. However, you will be a rare bird if it doesn’t cross your mind and you don’t end up in a fight about it at some point.
6. “When you get out of the ‘Honeymoon’ phase of your relationship, reality dawns on you and you figure that this is not meant to be.”
First love post-divorce: After the “Honeymoon” phase, you realize you have a lot of shit to deal with and your new love doesn’t change that.
Sometimes we imagine a relationship was fated because it is easier than thinking we still have work to do on ourselves. I am sorry to be the one to tell you, but no matter how fantastic your new lover is, he or she is not the solution to your life’s problems.
7. “You aren’t ready mentally, physically, emotionally and financially to make ‘Big’ commitments.”
First love post-divorce: You realize you still have a lot of healing to do and your finances are probably a mess.
You and your bank accounts will recover, but you are going to need some time, breathing space and perhaps a good therapist to get there.
8. “There comes a moment when you feel, ‘How would it be like to date someone else? I’ll never know for sure if this is perfect until I explore others.’”
First love post-divorce: The post-divorce dating pool is far deeper than you probably imagined.
You will want to dive in. There will be more prospective sweeties your age and in the same boat than you thought there would be when you were wondering “But who will want me now?” The answer will be – lots of people!
9. “You either give in to it more than you should or less than you should.”
First love post-divorce: When you were married, you either gave in more or less than you should.
Now you want balance. Peace. As bouncy and fresh as you feel at first, there’s a good chance that you will find yourself in a relationship with similar dysfunctions to those in your marriage. Keep your eyes peeled so you can recognize what is happening and keep moving forward.
10. “After all the ups and downs, fights and love, happiness and sadness you simply want to let go of it and get back to the singles market.”
First love post-divorce: You have been through enough ups and downs, fights and love, happiness and sadness already.
Your heart may be broken yet again. This time around you have the benefit of already knowing that it will heal. You already learned the toughest lesson — it is OK to let go.
In my experience, most divorces are actually caused by a poor choice in marriage partner in the first place. Dating after divorce is so much fun with the right mindset! Remember that you don’t and won’t have it all figured out. Let all of those high school expectations go and have fun!
More from YourTango:
38 Secrets To A Happy Relationship
5 Feel-Good Tips To Help Heal Your Broken Heart
10 “Hang In There” Quotes To Help You Survive Your Divorce
Was Your Ex Literally The Worst? 5 Ways To Bounce Back
The 10 Biggest Mistakes Men Make In Relationships