You're on cloud nine. You thought dating after divorce was going to be a nightmare, but you were wrong! You found a great guy who you adore. He's handsome, sensitive, kind, funny, athletic, attentive, charming, great with your kids, and in bed, he's rocking your world. He's even talking marriage!
Then, the shoe drops. You find out he's been cheating. You're shocked. But not really.
You look back at things you didn't let yourself see. The random text he got at 2:13 a.m., the time he was unaccountable for two days, a friend telling you she swears she saw him out one night with another woman. The signs were there, but you ignored them because you just wanted to be happy. After all, you deserve to be happy after going through hell with your divorce, right?
A scenario like this isn't bad luck, it's you choosing badly.
I first want to say that I am someone who has made lots of bad choices in men in my life. So, I'm not judging anyone. But I think I can help, because I think that when we understand why we are choosing badly, we can avoid making those mistakes in the future.
So, first of all, what does "choosing badly" mean? A drug addict, an alcoholic, a pothead, a control-freak, a cheater, a physical or mental abuser.
By the way, I also want to add that I'm not just talking about women choosing bad men. Men can choose badly too. Women can be alcoholics and drug addicts and abusers and cheaters, too.
Here are the reasons I think people choose badly:
1. Fear of being alone: I can't even count the number of men and women who get divorced and are remarried almost immediately. A lot then find themselves getting another divorce a few years down the road because they chose badly, out of desperation to be married again, or I should say, "to not be alone." Being alone is scary, I can attest to that. But I think it's better to be alone than to be with someone who is wrong for you, and who doesn't make you happy. If you take your time, and really get to know a person, you'll know if you chose badly. And if you realize you chose badly, then you break up. It's clean, quick and so much easier than going through another divorce.
2. Trying to compete with the ex: Here's a scenario: A person's ex wife gets remarried quickly, so the guy rushes into something with the wrong person, trying to prove to the world that he is happy too. It's really sad to me, and usually ends up in divorce because he chose badly out of desperation.
3. Low self-esteem and lack of self-love. This is the biggest reason people choose badly. People are willing to put up with things like excessive drinking, abusive behavior and cheating because they don't feel like they deserve any better for a few possible reasons. First, they might not have the confidence to realize how unacceptable the behavior really is. This might stem from childhood. Maybe their mother let their father treat them this way and so it seems acceptable. Or, it might stem from the insecurity of the circumstances of their divorce. Maybe the wife leaving left the guy with such little self esteem that he'll take anyone who loves him, no matter what she's like. Or, it could be the fact that the person has no professional life or passion or hobby, so they have no self worth. Lastly, it could be that they simply don't like who they are. I've seen absolutely drop-dead gorgeous women and men who have zero self-love. Really successful people, too!
The thing is, no guy or girl is perfect. I'm not saying to go out and settle for nothing less than Prince Charming. But NO ONE, man or woman deserves to be with someone who cheats, abuses them physically or mentally, or who is out of control with drugs or alcohol.
Dating advice: Let yourself see the red flags. If he has four beers in the first half hour of your first date, I'm not saying he's an alcoholic, I'm saying, be aware of it. If she's getting texts and phone calls late at night, be aware of it. If he gets angry and pushes you against the wall, do you really feel like it's something you should let slide? It's up to you, but I hope you take a good look in the mirror and discover all your wonderful qualities, and not let someone treat you improperly. In other words, if you let yourself see the signs, if you're not afraid to wait for the right one, and if you love yourself enough to realize you deserve better, chances are, you won't choose badly.
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of the blog, Divorced Girl Smiling. She is also the author of the comedic novel, FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE about life after divorce. Ms. Pilossoph is a weekly business features reporter and columnist for Sun-Times Media. She lives in Chicago with her two kids. And she's divorced (obviously.)