Murphy’s Love: Advice on Intimacy and Relationships
Dear Stacy: I’m a divorced, single mom of one young child. It’s been three years since my (not-so-amicable) divorce, and I have not dated anyone else yet. My friends and family are constantly telling me that I need to get back out there. While I know they are probably right, I just can’t seem to get myself in the mood to meet men. I have a lot on my plate. I work 60-hours a week and juggle custody arrangements with an inconsistent ex. My parents have health problems, and I am often called upon to help them. In other words, I don’t know where I would find the time to date, nor do I have the energy to do the things required, such as getting my body back in shape and following through with all the primping that I would need to feel comfortable even approaching a man. What am I doing wrong? How can I motivate myself to “get back out there”? -Spinning Too Many Plates
Dear Spinning, The first question has to be, do you even want to date anyone? Please notice the emphasis on you – I’m not interested in what family and friends think you should be doing. Do you want to date someone? It really doesn’t sound like it—which is completely O.K., particularly when you focus on all that you say “is required” of you in order to do so.
“Getting back out there” may not be the first step – there might be a different path that results in meeting someone new, but let’s take a look at some of the roadblocks.
How about getting over the very common and natural anger and resentment about your divorce? And please don’t read this as my shaming you in any way. That is something to get over and it doesn’t just happen. It can be some of the heaviest lifting around. This hard work may not feel possible during 60-hour workweeks on top of single parenting. So, I’d suggest you look at taking some baby steps. Plan to meet a friend for coffee once a week. Sign up for a lunchtime yoga class. Incorporate a walk around the block in the evenings. You will not feel comfortable getting back out there – let alone building a new relationship with a partner – unless you have processed what you’ve been through, and remember how to take time for yourself again.
Stacy Notaras Murphy (www.stacymurphyLPC.com) is a licensed professional counselor and certified Imago Relationship therapist, practicing in Georgetown. This column is meant for entertainment only and should not be considered a substitute for professional counseling. Send your confidential question to email@example.com.