By: Dr. Karen Finn
If you’re newly divorced, beware of these 5 ways you’re an easy target for users and manipulators.
The prospect of dating after divorce is exciting!
It is also pretty terrifying because women newly back out there are easy targets for players and manipulators.
I felt all the thrill and terror about dating after my divorce and my excitement won – at first.
I married at 19 and didn’t have intercourse until my wedding night. When I divorced (after nearly 18 years of marriage) I was totally unprepared for dating. I assumed it would be like it was in high school. Boy! Was I wrong…
Three months after my divorce was final, I fell in love. He just seemed to know me so well. It seemed like we’d known each other forever and I was eager to express my love for him sexually. I won’t lie – I had a whole lot of fun doing it!
But things changed when my life got complicated and I needed some emotional support. He disappeared. I naively kept reaching out to him thinking he must be going through a tough time too. He had told me he loved me and I couldn’t imagine that he would just vanish.
When I finally understood it was over, I was devastated. I thought I was rebuilding my life, that I was doing well, but I was just being used.
Unfortunately, my story isn’t unique. One woman I know was actually told “Wow, you’re like every guy’s fantasy. Like a little innocent kitten just set down in the jungle. I hope no lions or bears eat you alive.” Another guy even came back to her months after she left him to apologize and admit he had taken advantage of her the whole time they’d been together.
And being used isn’t unique to women. Men get used too. Several women I am familiar with have only gone out with men because they liked the expensive meals and gifts the men showered them with. But as soon as someone willing to spend more money came along (or someone better looking or even someone better in bed), they immediately dumped the men they’d been seeing.
Divorce shakes the foundation of your life and makes you virtually helpless prey for users and manipulators.
Here are the 5 reasons you’re an easy target:
- You’re lonely and naive. When you’re newly divorced you feel a profound lack of love and experience loneliness at a level you’ve never felt before.The player can use this and you believe them when they say they want to spend time with you or even that they love you. You’ll believe just about anything to keep your loneliness bay. (Reminds me of how I fell for a user.)
- You’re not really sure what you want sexually. The whole world of dating is intoxicating after divorce. You want to get out there and experience it all – to reclaim (or maybe even claim for the first time) your sexual power.But the truth is that after a long-term marriage (especially if you married the first person you had sex with), you’re inexperienced. You’re naive about what the dating world is really like. You’re unfamiliar with how to fully express your sexual likes and dislikes.
It’s your lack of knowledge and experience that make it way too easy for you to find yourself as the innocent little kitten in the jungle with every lion and bear around salivating to be with you.
- You’ve lost your dreams for the future. Your hopes and dreams for the future change dramatically when you divorce. (Well, that’s after they’re shattered and you realize you need to come up with new ones.)When you’re newly divorced it’s pretty easy to feel stuck and unsure of what your future holds. So when someone tells you you’re exactly who they’ve been looking for and how you make their dreams come true, it’s super simple to get sucked in.
- You’re hungry for approval. You weren’t fully appreciated, validated or respected in your marriage. You’re anxious to have someone praise you for simply being you.You believe just about anyone who seems to really see you and show you the appreciation you’ve been missing out on – maybe for years. In fact, you’re drawn to them like a fly to honey and then you’re trapped under their spell.
- You’re desperate for happiness again. Happiness is one of the most important emotions. It’s from a sense of joy that the energy to create, to work, and to love flows.When someone makes you happy after (or even in the midst of) the profound misery of divorce, it’s easy to believe they’re exactly who you need in your life. They’re like a drug you can’t get enough of and you’ll do just about anything to keep them with you – which is exactly what the users and manipulators out there want.
But before you get too defensive, you need to know that these 5 reasons you’re an easy target also hold the kernel of 5 ways relationships are great!
You feel complete and fully alive when you can comfortably enjoy and trust in someone’s company. Exploring your sexuality with a committed partner is amazing! Chasing your dreams with to the cheers of your spouse make them easier to reach. Being deeply appreciated by your lover for just being you emboldens you to be even more fearlessly you. And sharing the joy of simply being alive with your sweetie is blissful.
The only way to make sure you’re not an easy target and can honestly experience the thrills of a relationship is to make sure you’re ready to be out there again. Wait to date until you’re past the soul-sucking loneliness, until you’ve gotten to know yourself sexually, until you’ve created new dreams for your future, until you appreciate you for being you and until you’ve found happiness on your own.
If you don’t wait and instead run head-first toward the thrill of dating (like I did) you run the risk of being used, manipulated and hurt. The choice is yours.
It’s a choice I wish I had known about when I got divorced. It might have saved me a whole lot of hurt.