Failed Relationship Shame
Another failed relationship. Another outward embarrassment.
No- this is not me, but I have been there and I know the shame women feel.
We’re divorced, single and we ‘just can’t keep a man’, ‘can’t get it right’ or have ‘failed again’. It’s a shameful cycle in our heads when a relationship ends – especially after a divorce.
After my marriage and divorce, I felt the need to succeed with the next relationship. So, I picked a ‘nice’ guy who everyone could like. I also picked a guy who took advantage of me financially – which really wasn’t ‘nice’ after all.
I was extremely embarrassed. I felt shame and went back into my old habit of hiding the truth. Protecting him was also me protecting myself and my decision to date him. I didn’t want to admit that another relationship had failed or that I made a mistake.
Shame and embarrassment are powerful blocks to the truth. I had hidden the truth in my marriage for so many years, that hiding embarrassing truths was familiar. It was also a huge indication that I wasn’t healthy yet and still had a lot of work to do.
As divorced women, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to succeed in all that we do. Especially in relationships. We don’t want to be seen as being too picky, difficult or desperate.
I love the well-meaning, “Well, do you want to be alone forever?”
Why is that seen as a bad thing?
Then there is the kid pressure. The kids like ‘them’. The kids will think I failed. The kids become the excuse to stay, when we shouldn’t.
Instead of the end of a relationship being seen as failure, what if it’s simply data? Instead of focusing on a relationship, we get curious about the person? We ask questions – take in the data and decide if that’s a healthy person for us. We continuously do this – stay curious – and look at it as part of the process. It’s not a failure- it’s the process.
And trust me, dating in mid-life is a process! A huge one too.
My dating data lead me to the person I am today. All of my mistakes early on lead me to the happiness I feel. And let’s be honest, I went out with some serious losers. I also went out with some good guys who just didn’t pan out. And quite often I found myself going out with a narcissist, who felt all too familiar.
It was part of process and a painful one at times.
When I finally found myself healing I started to get more curious. I saw red flags easier and moved on quicker. I also found myself being content alone. I enjoyed my time with my friends and my time in an empty house. I dropped all dating sites and was content being alone, unless someone amazing came along. He did.
I say all the time that it’s easy. Not effortless, but drama free and fun. I would say that all I went through is worth it, if this is the final outcome. I wouldn’t choose to go through it again- but I have no regrets about where I am today.
It’s a process and at times a painful one. Don’t settle. Don’t give up and don’t feel like you have to justify a break-up to anyone. That’s BS and you don’t have to buy into it. Get healthy. Do the work and you will be surprised at where you end up. Alone or with someone- you will find peace.