The Challenge of Being Single Again

It can be a huge challenge to be “single again” after years of marriage.

Divorce rates are at an all time high and may even be getting worse. Many people are alone again after years of being married. Major adjustments need to be made.

Some people say they initially like the change because it is a nice break from all the hassling which may have taken place in the dying marriage. It can be very stressful living in a dying relationship.

In some ways, the loneliness experienced in a poor relationship is harder to handle than the loneliness which may come with living alone. It is very painful to be living with someone with whom you don’t connect.

What are the challenges that come with being single again?

First of all, there is the grief which comes from the death of the relationship. If the ending came suddenly, with little warning, it can be a turbulent emotional experience which goes on for some time (a year at the least).

If there was some warning and a long period of deterioration, a feeling of relief may initially occur, followed by more hurt for the loss of the ideal or dream marriage. Many adjustments then have to be made. One has to learn to do a number of things which the spouse used to take care of. This can be a stressful experience. Being a single parent can be very stressful as well. The children have their own grief and adjustments to make, and all of this upset can interfere with everyday life.

Statistics tell us that women often lose their standard of living after a divorce. They are most likely the custodial parents and yet their resources have decreased and this creates new pressures for the whole family.

Some non-custodial parents are good about paying support and yet many others are not and this creates a lot of unnecessary hardship for the rest of the family.

When the dust settles and new routines have been established and the grief has subsided, there can be a growing sense of disquiet. One has an awareness that he/she is lonely and there is a yearning for companionship and perhaps a new relationship.

Meeting new people presents a new set of challenges. How does one do it? Where does one go? The old dating scene has changed a lot and for many is not considered an option. Going to bars and/or nightclubs has no appeal.

Even if a new person comes along, it can be frightening and exciting and confusing. The fears of failing or being hurt again rise to the surface and can get in the way of establishing a new bond.

What does one do to handle being single again?

* Take time to heal. Don’t manage grief by rushing to replace the relationship which was lost. Often these choices end up being regrettable.

* Create a “Stress Survival Program” (talk, write, exercise, distract yourself, etc.) to stay on top of the distress associated with being on one’s own and all that goes with it.

* Look for ways to socialize which will allow one to reinvest in relationships and which may lead to something special (if desired). Consider Recreation Centre programs or clubs where people with similar interests can gather to have fun.

Becoming single again can be a shocking experience, particularly if one was supposedly happy in a marriage before it ended. Daring to hope for a meaningful new relationship can be scary.

Those people who heal their grief and cautiously reach out after becoming established as “single”, need to be able to state what they have learned from their past. If history is ignored there is a good chance it will be repeated (as the old saying goes).

Great intimacy is a natural and realistic goal but one has to approach it a step at a time.


Photo by Aaron Andary on Unsplash
The Challenge of Being Single Again
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Denis works with couples and individuals. His areas of interest include marriage, grief and stress. He also counsels people who suffer from depression and anxiety symptoms, as well as those struggling with personal growth issues.

Denis is eclectic in his use of psychological approaches, which include Adlerian, cognitive/behavioural, systems, psychodynamic, brief solution focused, existential and emotionally focused therapies.

Denis is a popular speaker who presents talks and workshops on a variety of topics including marriage, grief, retirement, emotional maturity and family relationships. He has published a book titled, “Marriage Can Be Great!…no really.”

Denis was a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of British Columbia. He helped to start the first hospice program in B.C. in 1975.

Denis received his Master of Arts degree from the University of British Columbia in 1977 and works as a Registered Psychologist. He is a member of the B.C. College of Psychologists and the B.C. Psychological Association.

Most importantly Denis has been married to Maureen for over thirty years and they have four children.

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