The Ukiah Daily Journal

Dating after divorce exposes extreme vulnerabil­ity

- Contact Amy Dickinson via email, askamy@ amydickins­

DEAR AMY >> I ended a long and terrible marriage with an addict a couple of years ago.

The marriage was over for a long time but because of debt and the pandemic, it took us a lot longer than I wanted for the marriage to finally be done.

By the end, it was like a prison sentence.

Throughout that process and for a couple years after, I spent time working on being a stronger, independen­t person — both for myself and for my daughters.

Recently I started trying to date again.

I met a few very nice men, but I didn't really connect. I was sure that I was good and happy being single.

But then I met a man who really got to me. We've been seeing each other for about a month. Now I'm smitten.

My problem now is that I'm so attracted to him and so scared of being hurt that I just want to break up before that happens. I know he likes me too, but I don't think he likes me as much as I do him.

It's a very scary place to be.

I have a therapist who advises me to just have fun, but I'm getting more and more scared as time goes on — and I just want to run and hide.

I'm too old for this silliness! Please help me to see this more clearly.

— Burned

DEAR BURNED >> First of all, this is not “silliness.” For you, fully engaging in a sexual and emotional relationsh­ip reveals your extreme vulnerabil­ity. This is the ongoing consequenc­e of your previous experience, which you describe as a “prison sentence.”

Yes — your therapist's advice to “just have fun” is positive and logical. But if you are becoming more afraid of moving forward in a relationsh­ip, then your therapist should encourage you to confront and explore your fear.

And in my opinion, your fear is also completely logical. If you've been in prison, it seems smart to try to avoid incarcerat­ion in the future.

Being smitten is such a great feeling to have, but the feeling brings forth a realizatio­n of what a great risk it can be to fall for someone. The last time this happened for you, look at what happened!

My advice is to do your best to move forward in this relationsh­ip, but to try to view it as part of your process, rather than the terminus of your search for happiness with a new partner. The lack of balance you perceive between you two is a red flag. You already have awareness of that, and so pay attention to your instincts.

The right partner for you will hear your story, accept your challenges, and move forward at a pace that still feels thrilling, but is more comfortabl­e for you.

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