Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I’ve been divorced not quite a year. I’ve been seeing a guy since just before the divorce was final. Even though I didn’t think I wanted a relationship, somehow he has grown on me, and I think, despite the baggage we both carry around, we have come to care about each other a lot.
I thought I wanted someone to push me to do more and be the best me I could be, but he’s very different from that — more tortoise than hare. I’ve come to realize that to some extent it’s good that he’s gotten me to slow down a bit.
However, part of me just worries that I’ll slow down too much. Also, it’s my first relationship after a 20-year marriage and I worry that I’m just rebounding.
What questions would you ask to evaluate if this is just a comfortable situation that I’ve fallen into … with someone who is good and kind and whom I guess I’m finding I have feelings for … or could this be something more?
After a Divorce
It sounds as if you’re struggling with a shaky sense of self-worth — as in, the need for assurance that you are who you think you are, and that that’s OK.
If that sounds about right, then I have two suggestions:
(1) The boilerplate, counseling. Find someone good and start sorting this stuff out. (2) Stop trying to sort/file/label your relationships. You enjoy this man’s company, so let that be enough right now, even if you have to keep reminding yourself to override your impulse to label.
Think of relationships as having only these two states — enjoy his company, don’t enjoy his company — until you sort out the other stuff. The other stuff being, essentially: How to make peace with yourself?