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High Conflict Divorce Mediation

Divorce and Dating Again

Half the US Population is Single

Maxine B. Cohen, M.F.T.

According to the 2000 Census, 52% of all households are occupied by unmarried or unpartnered people. That's a big number and it's bound to get even bigger.

There is a wonderful book by Tina Tassina, PhD, titled The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again, which gives intelligent and detailed information on not only how to negotiate the single world but on how to create and maintain healthy relationships. I wholly recommend it.

MEETING PEOPLE

Dr. Tassina suggests several ways to meet people without hanging out in bars. One good way is to go to a group that has a focus. It's easier to talk to people when there is a reason that you've come together. Talk about the theme or particular activity. Go to events that you are truly interested in so that you can lead your own life while at the same time hoping to meet people who share your interests.

Pay attention to what the other person is about and what you think of him/her instead of being wholly wrapped up in trying to make a good impression yourself. Watch to see if he/she is interested in learning about you rather than talking constantly about him/herself.

SET THE TONE

It is important early on to set the tone of the relationship. Hopefully the two of you will be able to support talking about who you are together and what that means rather than silently guessing, wishing. or making assumptions. The Talmud teaches wisely, "We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are." The things that occur between us can have very different meaning depending on how you see the world and what you want. So try to minimize misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and unmet hopes and expectations by having what Tina calls" state of the union" meetings. "How do you feel about the way we get along? this is what I want. What do you want?" Include such topics as how often should we see each other, how many phone calls are too many, do we date exclusively and if so exactly what does that mean?

This leads to what Dr. Tassina calls the "it means what?" discussions. For instance, what does having sex mean? Will we be monogamous? Will we date only each other? Are we committed?

NOURISHING, LOVING & WORKS

Be willing to discuss the hard stuff, especially sex. Don't just let sex happen because you had too much to drink or you didn't see it coming. A good rule of thumb is that if you can't talk about beforehand, don't do it. Especially in regard to sex, feelings get more tender afterward, so it'll be even harder to talk then. And if you're going to have sex, use your head and use protection. A latex rubber condom is your best protection against HIV and it'll prevent pregnancy as well. Yes, he/she told you he/she has been celibate for months. Yes, you believe him/her. Still, use protection unless the safe period has been at least 6 months and then get an HIV blood test. Yup, you read it right! It takes 6 months from the date of exposure for the antibodies to HIV to form.

So be cautious. Be safe. Be respectful of yourself and your partner. Treat yourself the way you want others to treat you and treat others the way you want to be treated. This is the surest way to build a new relationship for yourself, post-divorce, that is nourishing, loving, and works.



Maxine Cohen
949-644-6435 | maxinecohen@roadrunner.com
Maxine Cohen is a licensed marriage and family therapist who has worked with individuals, couples, and families since 1989. She is an expert on all aspects of the divorce transition-from how to tell the children in the best possible way, to riding the emotional roller coaster and grieving the loss, to dating and rebuilding a life that is satisfying and good. Maxine is also a writer, having contributed columns to Orange Coast Magazine and the local editions of the Orange County Register and the LA Times (Daily Pilot) for the past 10 years. She is in private practice in Newport Beach.


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