This article first appeared on Divorced Moms and has been republished with permission.
We all look for guidance and advice when we think we might be ready to find love again after a divorce. Most of us have owned our mistakes and believe we have learned from them, but there is still so much information available on how to find and keep love, and we need to understand that not everything is tested and true.
There are relationship myths that, if adhered to, can actually hurt your chances at finding love or damage a new, budding romance.
Let's address two of the more serious ones.
1. Love Is All You Need.
This is just simply not true. It sounds sweet in pop songs or e-cards but does not hold up as a life/relationship truth. While I agree that the thread woven throughout our romance is sewn with love's hand, that one thread is not enough to hold together the entire garment.
We all want to believe that the fairy tale is enough and love conquers all, but relying solely on love negates the other basic elements required to sustain a healthy relationship. What are those other elements?
Respect. You need a foundation of mutual respect. You should genuinely like and admire the person you are dating. Their values should mirror, or come close, to yours. It is not necessary to have identical views, but issues that are important to both of you should align somewhere in close proximity. This not only gives you common ground, but decreases the opportunity for disagreements or personal compromises that many regret having made over time.
Trust. You must be able to believe in your partner. You can absolutely love someone and not trust them, but what's the point? Your heart will never be at peace if you consistently have to question the motives and activities of your significant other. This concept is especially difficult when starting over after a divorce that may have happened after a betrayal of some kind. Learning to trust again is a challenge. We can impose highly restrictive guidelines the next go around, but that stifles affection. It's a delicate balancing act that requires open and honest communication, but love without trust will lead nowhere.
Fun. Sure, loving someone can be fun, but it is also possible to love a person who shares little or none of your interests. If you both wake up each day and zip off to separate activities, where is the bonding/connection time? There should be some experiences and hobbies that you both share and can do together. They can be physical, like bike-riding or hiking, or leisure as in a movie marathon or cooking, but intimacy is created when the two of you are engaged and participating in an activity you both enjoy.
Separately, any of these ingredients will not make a lasting relationship. Love is the essential component to tie it all together; however, please do not fall into the trap and believe the hype that LOVE is all you need. You need a full and well-rounded partnership.
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2. If It Is Meant To Be, It Will Work Out.
Destiny is not the same as Destination. We all set out on our love journey with a beautiful destination in mind, but we cannot just coast along and expect destiny to do all the hard work. The success of our relationship is not pre-determined in the stars, but rather in the commitment and effort we are willing to put into every day.
Compromise. Your relationship will be a series of negotiations that both of you positively engage in. Each partner needs to be heard and feel valued. You will not agree on everything and no one person can always get their way. It is unreasonable to believe that your future will just fall into place without communication and a willingness to make each other a priority.
Forgiveness. You will mess up and so will your partner. When it is you, be honest and humble and willing to ask for forgiveness. When it is asked of you, be gracious enough to give it. You would be wise to notice the forgiving of a continued, repeated offense, but we must always be able to accept the sincere remorse of someone we love. Forgiveness is an action that lets go of resentment and chooses to move forward.
Fighting Fair. The disagreements will come. Whether we are sorting through the compromises or working through the forgiveness, we will have moments that test our patience. We must develop a strategy for fighting fair. Do not use 'always/never' when describing a situation; it is almost never a true statement. Do not bring up past issues that have been resolved. Do not get personal or hit below the belt. Keep in the mind the goal is to work towards a solution and still value and show compassion to your partner.
It is easy to get swept up in those heart-warming romantic movies where everything just works out in the end, but we cannot set ourselves up to believe that true love will work out regardless of what we do. In reality, what we do does matter — a lot.
Getting yourself back out there on love's highway is challenging after a divorce. There is a wealth of information out there and much of it is very valuable. Still, we must use wisdom and common sense when deciding what we believe and how we apply it to our lives. Do not become a victim to these two very destructive myths. Each one denies the work and effort involved in sustaining a longterm partnership. At the end of the day, the best resource for moving on with your life is you. Know your heart; know your worth and believe you are capable and ready to love again.