I know a lot of singles on the prowl, and most of them are divorced. It’s just not uncommon anymore for people to get divorced — even at midlife and beyond — and try to start over with someone new. A dismaying number of my friends have also lost spouses to illness in the past few years, and some of them are tiptoeing out into the dating scene as well. According to marriage and divorce researcher Terri Orbuch PhD, there are 100,000 million singles in the US, and four out of 10 were already married once.
But after the messy divorce, the custody and support hearings, and the grieving, is it really possible to clean one’s slate and start out fresh, with a positive mindset, and open up one’s heart to someone new? Can one really find love again?
Unlike many relationship advice books, Dr. Orbuch’s is based on more than 25 years’ worth of scientific data and research. She directs the longest-running study of married and divorced individuals in this country, ongoing since 1986 and funded by the National Institutes of Health. As in her previous book, Five Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great, Dr. Orbuch has taken key findings from her landmark study of hundreds of married, divorced, and repartnered individuals, and translated these into doable strategies that readers can put into practice right away in their own lives and relationships.
Dr. Orbuch set out to answer these questions: After a long-term love relationship has ended, what’s the best way to go about finding love again? What can other singles learn from those who are happiest in their newfound relationships? What are some of the biggest obstacles to finding love again, and what are the mistakes to avoid?
Some of Dr. Orbuch’s study findings are quite fascinating and surprising. For example, the majority (57 percent) of divorced singles in her study who found new partners do not share living expenses. Most of these people, she discovered, have lasting issues or concerns from their previous marriage regarding the sharing of finances and money — and they simply don’t want money woes to burden their new love relationships. Makes sense!
I don’t want to spoil all the surprises in this invaluable book, but I can’t resist divulging a couple more fun findings. Here’s one: If you want to greatly increase your statistical odds of finding a successful new partnership, you have to stop blaming your ex. Dr. Orbuch found that the singles who held on to a lot of bitterness, regret, grief, or anger were not nearly as likely to find love again as those who were able to take a c’est la vie attitude with a statement such as, “We grew apart,” or “It just wasn’t a good match.”
Also, she found that when divorced singles made just one significant change in their life — it could be anything from joining a gym to working less — they were twice more likely to find a successful new relationship than those who clung to their existing lifestyle. Change is good! I love this tip.
Orbuch groups her findings into six main steps, or strategies, so readers can work on one type of behavioral change at a time. These include the most effective ways to get rid of your emotional baggage — all that junk that you really hope not to bring into a new love relationship the second time around. This is where Dr. Orbuch’s experience as a psychologist and relationship adviser really kick in. She offers smart, nonjudgmental guidance for singles who want to get out of a self-sabotaging behavioral pattern but don’t know how to do it.
I love her “21-day Action Plan,” a great motivator for singles who are convinced they’ll never find anyone. It’s kind of a boot camp for the brokenhearted. She also offers tips on how to figure out whom you should really be dating and why, how to take risks with people, and ways to avoid awkward, cringe-worthy dating disasters.
Yes, you can find love again, no matter how old you are or how terrible your previous marriage was. Dr. Orbuch will show you how to change your attitude and unhelpful habits, untangle your biases and unrealistic expectations, reconnect with your priorities and values, and take a big step out into the dating scene.
This is an upbeat, extremely helpful book by someone who has studied how real singles navigate their way to happiness the second time around.