I have recently gone through a very difficult divorce and am contemplating dating. I find myself holding back because I am scared. What should I do?
Dear Scared in Plantation,
After going through a difficult divorce it is very normal to be scared. Allow it. This emotion is tied to your past experience to which you are still attached. You question and wonder why you did not see the signs and are still trying to figure it out. Because of this the thought of dating someone new is scary.
A way to work through this is, whenever you have those feelings, ask yourself what the unconscious thoughts are that may be causing them. This will allow you to be more aware in the present and recognize what those thoughts and emotions are causing you to do or not do. In addition, check in with yourself and see if it is the time to date, has enough time passed, are you feeling stable enough. If the answer is yes, then by all means do so and recognize that the fear and feeling of being cautious is normal.
In addition, remember that this is a new experience, do not rush in too quickly to fill the emptiness and do not hold back too much to protect yourself. These behaviors are a way to avoid the feelings of fear and rejection. For the same reason someone might distance themselves from a relationship, to avoid reliving difficult past experiences, other individuals may prematurely throw themselves into the fantasy of a relationship to avoid feeling alone.
Allow yourself to feel all the emotions that may surface; this will enable you to enjoy a new experience while remaining connected to yourself. You have the opportunity to create something new, when you feel ready, make sure to “go slowly” and listen to your inner voice.
Please be advised that the advice written in this column is not a substitution for psychotherapy.