A recent email exchange with a reader reminded me of something. The most often asked question I get by guys who have discovered infidelity and see divorce on the horizon:
These poor guys are so conditioned to having a female by their side that the knee jerk reaction to losing one is to immediately look for a replacement. While some may say they just want to have fun with ladies while playing bachelor… they secretly all desire to find “the one” and get comfortable again.
My advice to them is always the same.. and it’s always ignored. Always.
“Forget about chicks for a while. Focus on you.”
I see men jump right into dating, get crushed, crawl back to their cave and say “Yeah… maybe I should give dating a rest for while.” Over and over and over again.
I know… I was one of them.
I am now with a genuinely GOOD woman. That is NOT because I bounced around for a while in online dating, worked my network of friends and neighbors and eventually connected with somebody I had a lot in common with. No… I just got lucky. Seriously. It had nothing to do with my repaired emotional state or doing everything by the book. No… I just happened to find a good woman who was going through much of what I was going through… at pretty much the exact same time. She was there through my annoying three year post-divorce emotional journey, and I was there for hers. We both agreed that we were dating way too soon.. but did it anyway. This could’ve ended in a catastrophe of epic proportions. Thankfully it didn’t.
In spite of doing everything wrong, we got it right.
Don’t do what I did. Just because I hit the lottery doesn’t mean you should go out and spend your next paycheck on Powerball tickets. Just because Jimi Hendrix did drugs doesn’t mean that you can be an awesome guitar player by shooting up heroin. You get the idea.
Oh yeah, I did some dating. I’m familiar with that world. As I’ve often said, 90% of the single women out there are not long-term relationship material. Have fun, go out every now and then, do your thing.. but realize that the chances of finding somebody worth calling your one girl are very very low.
YOU HAVE TO BE OK WITH THAT.
Hearing somebody tell you that you will probably spend your remaining years casually dating and enjoying the single life should put a big fat smile on your face. It’s shouldn’t make you sad. You’re a dude. FREEDOM is everything to you.
Don’t quite feel that way? You’re conditioned. You’re broken. Don’t start dating yet.
When you are in a super vulnerable state of being shit on and dumped… you tend to want to remedy the extreme anxiety as quickly as possible. Some of us figure out that you just have to power through it slowly and occupy your mind with stuff like the gym, work, hobbies, reading, writing, friends… but most of us look for the quick fix. That touch. That physical feeling. That warmth. A WOMAN.
Hey, it all sounds good. You go about doing all of those things that come with new found freedom, and you have NEEDS, so why not casually date? Well… I agree with the sentiment… BUT recognize that you will most likely set your progress back a little (or a lot) by jumping into bed with women right away. Recognize that it will whip up all kinds of feelings. Recognize that you may very well start falling for girls REALLY quickly. Recognize that you CANNOT TRUST YOURSELF right now to make the most rational decision. You cannot trust yourself to do what is right for YOU RIGHT NOW. What you can trust is that you are hurting and you will want to fix that hurt right away. You will ignore red flag after red flag if it means you feel good again.
Your feelings are perfectly valid… Your conclusions and remedies are not. You cannot trust yourself right now. You are an addict looking for a fix. “I can stop at any time. I’m cool. Don’t worry about me.”
Another way to look at it: You are an adult. You are probably a dad. You have an entire world of work, home, and family that depends on your to keep your shit together. Don’t run out there and jump on the first woman that makes you feel good again. Realize that you have a 1/10 chance of finding a good one… which means the remaining 9/10 are varying degrees of broken. They are cheaters, liars, depressed, angry, abuse-survivors, abusers, borderlines, bipolars, manic depressives… you name it, you will run into it. You want to risk bringing THAT into your world? You’re willing to risk having a crazy woman show up at your door on Taco Tuesday night with the kids, screaming “WHY HAVEN’T YOU TEXTED ME BACK, ASSHOLE!? IT’S BEEN TWO HOURS!!”
You’re better than that. You’re a man. It’s ok to hurt. It’s okay to want it to all go away. What you don’t do is look for the easy way out. You work through the pain. You work through the anxiety. You work on yourself. It’s introspection time. It’s time to pick apart yourself and rebuild. It sucks… but it sucks worse to be sitting at the kitchen table with your head in your hands saying “God dammit… I did it again” as you find out your new girlfriend gave you the clap.