Have A Great Online Dating Experience

Dating after divorce can be confusing. After all, it’s probably been a while since you last dated and things have CHANGED since then.

One of the biggest changes in dating over the last 10-15 years is the number of people who use online dating services. Did you know there are even websites dedicated to letting you know who the top online dating services are? These services are a BIG business and it’s OK to use them. When my clients decide to start dating, most of them use an online dating service or two. Heck I even used one to meet my 2nd (and current) husband.

Online dating, just like any other kind of dating, is terrific IF you’re aware of these three pitfalls.

The first pitfall is lack of safety. I’ve heard stories from both men and women about some positively scary situations they found themselves in when they met a date. Here are some key things you can do to be a bit safer when you date online:

When you’re using an online dating service, be careful of your identity. Don’t use your full name on your profile that’s open to the public.

Ask the other person for their number, don’t freely give yours away. It’s OK to block your number and make your first call(s) anonymously.

For heaven’s sake, DON’T give someone you’ve never met your address to come pick you up. When you’re ready to meet someone, arrange to meet them someplace public. Park someplace where there are lots of others coming and going. It’s also a good idea to let someone know someone know where you are going to be meeting your date and have them call if they haven’t heard from you in a couple of hours.

The second pitfall is looking for a spouse instead of learning to date. One of the most common things I see people do when they’re starting to date again is to focus on finding a spouse instead of focusing on dating. There’s a big difference between the two!

When you focus on finding a spouse, going out becomes a lot more serious, a lot more intense. You might even start to worry about how many dates you go on before you decide if you want to be serious with this person. Sometimes you don’t go out with more than one person at a time because you want to make sure you give the current person the benefit of the doubt.

When you’re focused on dating, the whole thing is a bit more casual. There’s less stress and pressure to impress and more emphasis on figuring out whether or not you’re enjoying yourself. Focusing on dating is a great way to learn what you do and don’t like about others and yourself when you’re around them. This knowledge will allow you to move on when it’s right for you. One important point here is that you need to be up-front with the people you’re dating to let them know where you’re coming from and so they don’t get the wrong idea about your intentions.

The third pitfall is thinking you must respond and/or date everyone who contacts you. You have no responsibility to the people who reach out to you. You don’t have to respond to everyone and you definitely don’t have to go out with all of them either. You deserve to be picky about who you spend your time on and with. Your time and how you spend it is how you create your life, so be picky about whom you spend time with!

I want you to think of dating as cultivating friends and learning about yourself. Most people aren’t ready to get into another serious relationship right after they get divorced. They need some time to rediscover themselves and figure out what they do and don’t like about other people. That means going out with other people to have fun.

Dating is supposed to be fun and using the online services can be a great way to meet some amazing people. Just be sure to avoid the pitfalls!

Your Online Dating Assignment:

Do some research. There really are a lot of sites out there to help you meet people to date. Each site has its own personality. Check out a few and decide which site or sites best fit you.

Be open to learning about yourself. The dating experience should be fun and put you and your date in new situations that will allow you both to learn about yourselves and each other. Successful dating requires that you be ready to learn stuff about yourself without the expectation that you or your date be perfect.

Are you ready to date? OK, this probably should have been the first step of the assignment, but I saved it to last so you’d be sure to see it. There’s no rule about when you’re ready to date, but generally, you want to be through the worst of the emotional part of your divorce. If you’re curious to know where you are on the continuum of being through with the emotional part of your divorce you need to check out the Fisher Divorce Adjustment Scale (FDAS) at http://drkarenfinn.com/work-with-me/how-long-does-it-take-to-recover-from-divorce

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

If you’re looking for more help on how to deal with your life now, read more articles about Life After Divorce.

Step 1 For Finding Me-Time In Your Busy Day: Set Timer For 5 Minutes

Isn’t it easy to get caught up in everything that’s going on and demanding our attention? There’s work, our family and friends, our community activities, our health, chores, TV and the internet. PLUS the divorce! It’s all clamoring for attention RIGHT NOW! Wouldn’t it be great to be able to stop the world for a moment and regroup?

Well, stopping the world for just a moment is EXACTLY what I believe you should get in the habit of doing every day. Sounds like a dream, right? OK, so no one can truly stop the world, but you can certainly stop participating in everything for just a few minutes every day. My recommendation is that you take at least 5 minutes every day for “me time”.

The benefits of regular me-time are amazing! They include a reduction in stress, the ability to think more clearly, seeing the “big picture”, and increased energy.

Here’s what you’ll need to be able to stop the world and get your own “me time”: a timer, a comfortable place to sit, and an agreement with everyone else that you are not to be disturbed for 5 minutes.

Step 1: set timer for 5 minutes. Yes, seriously! Set the timer so you can relax knowing you won’t lose track of time.

Step 2: Get comfortable where you’re sitting and close your eyes. Grab a pillow. Curl your legs up underneath you. Pull a blanket over you so you feel cozy. Do whatever you need to do to feel comfortable.

Step 3: Take a deep breath in, hold it for a second and then s-l-o-w-l-y exhale. Notice that while you are exhaling, your shoulders loosen up a bit. Keeping your eyes closed; continue your deep breathing until the timer sounds.

Step 4: Slowly open your eyes, when the timer sounds. Wiggle your fingers and toes. Let yourself re-orient to your surroundings and enjoy how relaxed you’re feeling. Now, go ahead and turn off the timer and let the world start up again.

Your Friendly Coaching Assignment:

Schedule 5 minutes of me-time in the next 24 hours. I find that most people are so used to doing what they believe has to be done for everyone else, that it can be hard to find even 5 minutes to take care of themselves. That’s why this step is so important. Decide when you have 5 minutes that you can dedicate to taking care of you and schedule it into your day.

Keep your appointment with yourself. In order for you to get the benefits of your me-time, you’ve actually got to do it. So, once you get the time scheduled, take the 5 minutes to recharge. I bet you’ll be happy you did!

Do it! The more consistently you give yourself the gift of me-time the easier you’ll find it is to handle all the twists and turns and demands for attention that pop up in your life.

If you’d like more do-able ideas for creating more me-time in your life, give me a call at 817-993-0561 so we can schedule a Complimentary Consultation and together we’ll figure out a way for you to have more me-time.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice or schedule a private consultation with me.

The Rust Of Life And Divorce

Last week, one of my dear friends sent me a message. He sends messages just about every day to his friends to inspire and comfort. Jon’s one of those guys with a really big heart who knows how to make sure his friends really feel how much he cares for them.

This one message he sent to me last week really got me to thinking. It read, “…doubt is the rust of life. Doubt holds you landlocked in paralysis unable to move either way. The time you spent doubting is the time you are not alive. So, rid yourself of the doubt, take that step one way or another, your heart knows what is best, but take it right now.”

What an incredible message! It was like Jon had looked right at me and told me exactly what I needed to hear and what I knew I needed to share with you.

Doubt is one of the major immobilizing emotions of divorce. Uncertainty comes in all kinds of different shapes and sizes during divorce. There’s doubt about whether or not the decision to divorce is the right one, there’s doubt about how to best help the kids understand the divorce, there’s doubt about what life will be like during and after the legal proceedings and fees along with all kinds of other self-doubts.

The doubts that come with divorce are usually an indication of fear and a need to reconcile your previous way of life or doing things with the way things are or even could be in the future. It’s normal to have doubts and fears when your life changes dramatically. However, they can also become debilitating and that’s definitely something to avoid.

Instead, doubts are best used as a way to become aware that there’s something deeper to be explored and brought out to the light. One of the quickest ways I know to allow yourself to bring that something deeper up to the surface is through a thoughtful relaxation exercise. I’ll share the exercise with you in Your Functional Divorce Assignment.

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the ground. Take a deep breath in. As you exhale, start to imagine all the stress and strain from your body draining out. Draining from the top of your head, down through you neck, your torso, your legs and out through the bottom of your feet deep, deep into the ground.

Continue breathing deeply. Every time you exhale imagine more of the stress and strain in your body draining out through the bottoms of your feet deep, deep into the ground.

Enjoy the sensation of your body beginning to relax. Your neck and shoulders are loosening up. You’re sitting deeper into the chair and your entire body is relaxed as the stress and strain continue to drain out of your body.

When you’re feeling calm and relaxed, gently ask yourself about your doubt and what decision you need to make. As you remain relaxed, an answer to your question will emerge. It may or may not be the answer you were expecting, but you will have an answer that you can move forward with to dispel your doubt.

I know doing this technique on your own can be a bit challenging. So, if you’re serious about wanting to dispel your doubt and would like some help, let me know. You can reach me by email at karen@drkarenfinn.com and by phone at 817-993-0561.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice or schedule a private consultation with me.

Wrapping Up 2012

Most of us tend to be forward thinkers. We’re always looking at what’s next. As soon as we finish one thing, we rarely take the time to savor our success before we’re off to the next task or adventure.

This time of year, most Americans are gung-ho about their New Year’s resolutions before the struggling of achieving them sets in over the next few days.

One of the best ways to build the strength and determination to achieve your New Year’s resolutions is to build your belief in yourself by spending a little time reviewing all the good things that happened in 2012 – especially those things that help you know you can achieve your resolutions.

When you’re going through divorce, it’s especially important that you take time out to savor the good things. For most people, divorce has a way of coloring things with a more negative cast. The thing is there are usually good things that happened during the past year too. It’s worth the time to find and appreciate them so your world view can be a bit rosier and happier.

When I review all the things I’ve done, accomplished, and experienced in the previous year, I’m always amazed at how much good stuff I packed into the year! It takes me a couple hours to review my calendar, my business results, photos, my facebook wall posts, and my tweets for the previous year. Besides allowing me the time to appreciate my family, friends, business associates and clients, my year-end review helps me to prepare for the coming year and set more realistic resolutions for the New Year.

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

Make your year-end review a priority and schedule a couple of hours for it. Once a year, it’s totally worth taking this time for yourself to review where you’ve been and see where you’d like to go.

Gather together your calendar, pictures and anything else that will help you remember all the good stuff from 2012. You may be like me and want to check out your facebook wall too!

Keep your appointment with yourself. Enjoy reviewing all the wonderful things that you got to do, see, and accomplish in 2012. Use the oomph you get from this to help you set and accomplish the resolutions you’ve made for yourself.

Schedule more time if you need it. I find that sometimes people need a bit more time to get through their year-end review when they’re going through divorce. Sometimes the review can trigger some other emotions that need to be worked through. If that happens to you, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Allow yourself the time you need to process your thoughts and feelings and then get back to enjoying the good things.

If you’re ready for an outside perspective and ready to get the help you deserve to make 2013 your best yet, reach out to me by email at karen@functionaldivorce.com or by phone at 817-993-0561. We can schedule a Complimentary Consultation to help you put your plans in place for making 2013 your best year yet!

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

Flexibility: It’s About More Than Just Muscles

Life changes a lot when you separate and divorce. Things that used to be a regular part of life just aren’t anymore. And when things change in unexpected ways, we can get scared, frustrated and angry.

When clients begin working with me, they’re usually experiencing some combination of fear, frustration and anger. One of the first things we do is dive into what’s behind or at the root of these emotions. What we usually discover on our deep dive are limits that have been disregarded in some way. The limits could be behaviors, expectations, thoughts, beliefs or even habits.

The identification of your personal limits is a critical part of restructuring your life during and after divorce.

Some people are quite adept at identifying their limits – what they can and can’t do, what they think and why they think it, what they expect and why they expect it and what their habits of thought, belief, response and action are.

Others aren’t as aware of their limits. They aren’t quite sure of what their limits are or even if they want to know because they do and think what others tell them to.

And then there are people everywhere in between these two extremes.

Regardless of your starting point, I think knowing and understanding your limits is one of the key pieces to successfully navigating divorce. Your limits can help you understand what’s truly important to you as you negotiate your settlement. And knowing your limits will even allow you to ask for help and support when you need it.

Your limits will be tested, pushed, prodded, and beat against before, during, and after your separation and divorce. Who’s doing all this “exploring”? EVERYONE. Or at least it will probably feel that way. However, the chief “explorers” are usually your soon-to-be-ex and you. I’ll bet you already get how your soon-to-be-ex figures in here, but did you expect to also be one the chief “explorers”? The thing is that by virtue of going through the divorce process you’re asking yourself to completely redefine what your life is like. And anytime you or anyone else changes it’s a matter of testing and exploring previous limits.

I know all the testing, pushing, prodding, and beating against limits is at a minimum uncomfortable and at worst excruciating. However, the payoff is either an adjustment or a reaffirming of your limits along with, ideally, improved ways of communicating them to yourself and others. With your new limits you’re most often better off than you were with your old limits. Kinda like that old adage – what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.

Great, right? There’s going to be some struggle and then things will be better. UGH! There’s nothing there about how to make the transition from married to divorce easier! And here’s where I’m going to tell you that the way to make things easier is to be flexible and loving while you’re exploring your limits so you can adjust and evaluate them by choice instead of by force.

By allowing yourself to be flexible as you explore your limits you’ll be much more able to understand and choose what to do with your limits and your life as you move forward through your divorce process. The flexibility will also allow you to negotiate from a more confident spot because you’ll be able to more easily see the options available to you. Developing the ability to be flexible will help you now as you’re navigating your divorce, but throughout your life.

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

Know your limits. As you’re proceeding through your separation and divorce process take note of your limits. You’ll probably become aware of them most easily when you’re experiencing a strong emotion.

Explore your limits. Once you’ve identified a limit, ask yourself questions like “How did I develop this limit?”, “What’s the benefit of this limit?”, and “What might adjusting this limit be like?” Take note of what you discover about yourself.

Adjust your limits. Exploring limits almost always gives you new ideas of how to be, act, and think. Take advantage of your discoveries and adjust your limits in ways that make you feel wonderful!

As always, I’m here if you need some help in increasing your flexibility. You can reach my by email at karen@functionaldivorce.com and by phone at 817-993-0561.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And if you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

© 2012 Karen Finn. All rights reserved under all copyright conventions.

Stop Scaring Yourself!

books about dealing with divorce

Here’s how to stop letting your imagination make things seem so much worse than they really are.

Since it’s the season for scary stuff, I thought I’d tell you a couple of horror stories I told myself when I was getting divorced. The first story is the everyday story. The second is the special event story.

I’ll start with the everyday story. I started telling myself various versions of this story shortly after my ex-husband and I separated in March of 2002.

My fears were LARGE. They invaded almost every facet of my life. I was afraid of living alone. I was afraid of not being able to support myself. I was afraid that I’d get sick from eating food that had gone bad. I was afraid of getting fat. I was afraid of getting old. I was afraid of losing my job.

I’m guessing you get the picture. It’s what I used to do with each of these fears that made up the everyday story.

Here’s one version of the story. I’m afraid of losing my job. Then I’d tell myself that if I lost my job, then I wouldn’t be able to afford to pay my bills. If I wasn’t able to pay my bills, then I’d lose my house and have to live on the street. If I had to live on the street then I wouldn’t’ survive long and I’d die a horrible death.

Here’s another version of the story. I’m afraid of getting fat. If I get fat, then no one will ever want to date me. If no one ever wants to date me, then I’ll never get remarried. If I never get remarried, then I’m going to be alone for the rest of my life. If I’m alone for the rest of my life, I’ll be living alone forever (which amped up the scary factor). If I’m living alone forever, then what would happen if I lost my job? If I lost my job then I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills. If I can’t pay my bills, then I’ll lose my house and have to live on the street. If I had to live on the street then I wouldn’t survive long and I’d die a horrible death.

Are you getting the idea of my everyday story? I was convinced that if any one of my fears came true then I wouldn’t survive long and I was going to die a horrible death.

OK, now for the special event story.

Shortly before my divorce was finalized, some friends from graduate school invited me to join them in Spain. Although I was in desperate need of a vacation, it took some convincing before I finally agreed to join them in Spain for a week. Initially, I needed convincing because I was afraid of spending the money just in case I lost my job. (Yes, that does mean that I started telling myself the everyday story.)

As the day for departure approached, I was happily anticipating and dreading it at the same time. I started telling myself that I was a horrible person because I was getting divorced and that I deserved to die. The closer the day for departure loomed, the more convinced I was that I was probably going to die in a plane crash because I didn’t deserve to have fun. I made myself miserable and a nervous wreck. All of the fun I could have had anticipating the vacation I turned into torment and torture.

As you already know, my horror story didn’t come true. I didn’t die in a horrible plane crash. I even managed to have some fun in Spain and on the way home I was too tired to worry about whether or not the plane crashed.

So what’s the point of me telling you my stories? Well, what I’ve found over the years is that many people dealing with divorce torture themselves with their own horror stories. I’ve heard horror stories about never being happy again. I’ve heard horror stories about never being financially well off again. I’ve heard horror stories about children never loving their parents again. I’ve even heard horror stories similar to my own.

In case you’re telling yourself horror stories, I want you to know two things. First, you’re not alone; many people tell themselves horror stories when they’re dealing with divorce. Second, it’s OK to tell someone who won’t judge you, about your stories and have them help you create a better story – a story that inspires you and makes you happy to be you.

Your Healing After Divorce Assignment:

Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Identify the horror stories you’re telling yourself. What are the stories you’re telling yourself about your future? Anything that doesn’t inspire happiness and positive anticipation of the future just might be a horror story.

Stop torturing yourself and reach out for help in rewriting your horror story. If you’re ready to change the story you’re telling yourself into one with a happy ending, schedule a Complimentary Consultation with me. We’ll discuss how coaching can help you more quickly and completely work through your divorce and rewrite your story. Simply contact me now either by email karen@drkarenfinn.com or by phone 817-993-0561 and I’ll be happy to schedule some time with you.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach. I help people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice.

If you’re looking for more help recovering from your divorce, read more articles about Healing After Divorce.

Life Is What’s Happening Now

Time is one of those concepts that we all get, but is difficult to define. It’s a marker that allows us to separate past, present, and future.

Why bother discussing time? Because, I agree with Alan Lakein who is credited with saying, “Time = Life, therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life.”

When we go through divorce, it’s so very, very, very easy to get caught up in either the past or the future instead of being here, now.

We can get caught up in the past by thinking things like, “If only s/he would have told me they weren’t happy, I know we wouldn’t be getting divorced now.” We might even think things like, “I knew before I got married that I shouldn’t marry him/her.” This was one of the thoughts that I had when I was going through my divorce. It was the truth, but it didn’t do any good. The fact was that I had gone ahead and gotten married despite what my gut was telling me. Spending time thinking about a decision I had made YEARS ago wasn’t making the situation any better. It wasn’t helping me to deal with what was going on right then. It was just a way for me to come to terms with the end of my marriage – for a while. What it did in the longer term was it kept me from REALLY understanding what was going on in the present – what was going on with me. A large part of my struggle with divorce came down to the question, “What is it that I need to change or do to reclaim my happiness?” Focusing on the past never helped me completely answer this question. It gave me hints and clues, but never the answer.

On the other hand, we can get caught up in the future by thinking things like, “I don’t know how I’ll be able to make a living”, “I don’t know how I’ll be able to pay child support”, “I’ll never find someone to love me again”, and “I am so afraid of the future”. Focusing on the future with thoughts of fear, lack and struggle makes the process of divorce that much more difficult. Who on earth would want to move forward to a life of fear, lack and struggle?!

I know I sure wouldn’t, and yet, when I was going through my divorce, I had many of these types of thoughts. My thoughts and fears of the future played havoc with me. I would make a decision about how many to move ahead in a positive direction and I would break out in hives. I’d make another decision about how to move forward and I’d have a panic attack. Living in fear of the future was miserable!

Luckily for me, over time, I learned how to live in the present. I learned how to take the past and extract the hints and clues it provided about how I might be happy again. With the hints and clues, I started experimenting with my thoughts and actions to discover what made me happy in the present. I learned how to look with the anticipation toward the future and use the happiness of the present to project what would bring me even more happiness and fulfillment in the future.

I’ll be honest with you, this wasn’t an easy transformation for me, but I did it. Because I did it, I’ve been able to teach my clients how to do it. Because I’ve been able to do it and teach others how to do it, I know YOU can learn to live in the present too. YOU can appreciate and learn from your past. YOU can anticipate your future with happiness all while you are enjoying the present.

The most important thing to remember is that life is what’s happening NOW. Appreciate now. Enjoy now. Live now.

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

What are you holding on to from your past that is keeping you from completely experiencing the present? You might find this question tricky to answer. It takes a willingness to get really honest with yourself and it might even require you letting go of some blame (either of yourself or someone else). On the other hand, you might be very well aware of what you’re holding on to.

What hints and clues does your past give you about how to experience more happiness now? When were you happy in the past? What were you thinking? What were you doing? How does what you were holding on to point you in the direction of what you might need in the future to be happy?

How are you using fear to keep you from anticipating the future with pleasure? What is it that is keeping you from moving forward with pursuing your future?

What does your ideal future look like? You don’t have to have every detail here or even know exactly how you’ll achieve it. The important thing is to know that your future can be ideal.

How might you use the hints and clues from your past along with an anticipation of the future to make your ‘now’ more enjoyable and fulfilling? If you’ve spent the time to answer the questions above, you’ve got the beginnings of how to make your ‘now’ happier. Remember, there’s no time like the present to start making things even better for yourself!

Appreciate now. Enjoy now. Live now.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.