Love Reimagined: Experience Is Your Superpower

Successfully jumping back into the dating pool and finding an encore love can seem overwhelming. Perhaps you’ve gone through a divorce or ended a long-term relationship and have children and a well-established career. Regardless of what you bring to the table, there are far more complex and dynamic factors to consider now than there used to be.


Life becomes more complex with age whether you are single or coupled, and it undoubtedly looks different than it did when you first began looking for a serious relationship. You have built a tenured career, you have started and ended serious relationships, and you might have children or a complex relationship with your ex. These dynamics can change how people approach finding love, but they aren’t barriers to finding and nurturing a committed relationship.


The sum of your life experiences has made you into the dynamic human being you are today, and you have the benefit of that experience and wisdom as you search for and begin a new relationship.


I found myself unexpectedly divorced a little less than a decade ago. At the conclusion of that long-term relationship, I went through the usual stages of grief. I felt loneliness in the loss; then, anger, sadness, and fear started to creep in, especially with children and a life of my own to manage. Pulling yourself back up after that experience is different for each of us, but for me, the only way out was to move forward.


What Is Encore Love?


Encore love is a renewed opportunity to find love. It acknowledges that you’ve been previously married, or in a long-term relationship, and are now back in the game. While encore love might not be a universal experience, it’s an opportunity worth consideration if you find yourself in a position to start fresh. This is a prime time to reevaluate your wants and needs and practice self-care so that, in time, you can be the best version of yourself with your new partner. Everyone is entitled to another chance at love. After all, some of the best performances take place after the concert has ended.


Benefits of Dating After the End of a Long-Term Relationship


After years of being absent from the dating scene, there might be some apprehension. Reframing your personal narrative in a positive light allows you to reenter the dating world with perspective and confidence. Perspective only comes with time and experience, and that perspective is fortified with the foresight to avoid certain situations and dynamics that just do not work for you. Take stock of your previous relationships. Cherish what worked, and recognize what did not. Now is your chance to date new and different people, viewing and evaluating the potential through the eyes of experience.


Beyond the benefits of experience and wisdom, there are numerous mental and physical health benefits of being in a loving relationship. As humans, we’re innately social creatures that thrive on connections with others. The physical body is healthier when a person is in a relationship: There’s a lowered risk for heart disease, there’s reduced risk of cancer, and the immune system strengthens. When in a loving relationship, the area of the brain that controls emotional processing and selflessness becomes stimulated, and memory becomes stronger, too. While it is essential to take time for intentional self-work and care, an encore love can improve overall physical and mental health at a rate that’s difficult to achieve on your own.


How to Add Love Back Into Your Life


Balancing new dynamics and your day-to-day life while returning to dating can be challenging to manage. Keep the following principles in mind for a smooth transition:


1. You deserve to be happy and in love.

In case you need to hear it again: YOU deserve love. Your personal happiness and desire to be loved are just as important as anyone else’s. Being a successful professional, parent, caretaker, volunteer, and everything-else-you-do is a lot to juggle. So be sure you make time for your happiness as well. When you’re happy, you’re able to be a better parent, colleague, and sibling and show up more for your loved ones and friends. Prioritize your time, and designate an ample amount for finding your next loving relationship.


While this might look different for everyone, you should take a moment for self-care and occasionally put yourself first. This might mean spending time doing the things you love or seeking out childcare to make time for a date. If you have younger children, don’t be shy or feel like you’re imposing when making plans for childcare so you can focus on yourself. Getting a new relationship off the ground can be challenging, so don’t hesitate to call in the reinforcements. I relied on my mother quite often when I began dating again. It can help to remind yourself that, whether they realize it or not, your children and the people in your support system want nothing more than to see you in a loving relationship. They want you to feel love and be loved.


2. Enlist expert assistance.

If you haven’t been in the dating scene in a while, you should know this: Dating has changed. A lot. New dating apps seem to pop up every day. Expectations rapidly change. And who can keep up with all the swiping, messaging, and due diligence that go into meeting someone on an app? If you’re serious about finding lasting love, put the right support system in place for yourself. That could be a therapist to help you through the highs and lows. It could be a trainer or nutritionist to help you look and feel your best. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend that you consider a professional matchmaker who can guide you through the modern dating landscape, do the screening and vetting for you, and provide expert advice along the way.


3. Carefully consider the timing of important introductions.

When you do find a partner, there will come a time when you’ll want to introduce them to your family. Slow and steady wins this race, so don’t feel pressured to rush into introductions. Be certain the relationship has had time to develop and is on solid ground. While you are entitled to your privacy, try to be mindful of timing as well. Rushing an introduction might catch people off guard; however, waiting too long could cause loved ones to feel left out of an important aspect of your life.


Every family is different, but in my case, our kids were older when I started dating again, so I was able to navigate the process a bit more easily. For us, with older children and six of them between us, it made sense to make introductions within a month or two. Our kids shared the same sentiment: They wanted nothing more than to see their parents in a loving relationship. When the time is right in your relationship, the first meeting should take place in a casual atmosphere, and everyone should be prepared for it. Casual is less intimidating for your family members, and it provides a more comfortable environment to get to know this important new person in your life.


4. Give yourself and the new relationship the benefit of the doubt.

Everyone has a relationship history. After all, that’s what makes encore love special. Try to favor the benefit of the doubt over preconceived notions about a potential partner or your idea of what relationships should look like. Envision your ideal, know your deal breakers, and explore the space between. You might surprise yourself as you open your mind to new people and experiences and discover different passions and interests. I was fortunate to meet the true love of my life within a year of my divorce through the world of matchmaking. After dating for over seven years, we recently married and are thrilled to share this next chapter of our lives with each other. There’s a lot that goes into it, but it is truly fulfilling to meet someone new and special in encore love.


Making your comeback after a big breakup or divorce can seem daunting, but you can choose to embrace the opportunity. While there might be new dynamics to navigate, you’re better equipped than ever to find lasting love. The past has taught you how to make the most out of your future, and remember: You deserve love.




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