Young divorce

Joey Garcia

I’m 20 and met a guy on Tinder who is divorced. We actually go to the same college, although I’ve never seen him at school. He’s sarcastic, fun and cute. I like him. We’ve been texting and getting to know each other for a while. We’re going to dinner next week. Here’s my question: Is being so young and already being divorced a red flag?

Being divorced is not a red flag. The reason(s) why a person is divorced might be cause for caution or concern. A divorce is just the end of a legally binding contract affecting the assets and financial liabilities of two people. In some cases, ending the contract is a brilliant idea. If the marriage cracked because of a betrayal, there’s bound to be some trauma and, with it, the opportunity to become a better version of oneself. Other times, meh. Two people confused infatuation with love, married, realized they’re not a forever couple and got divorced. Isn’t it better to end a union that has no joy? So don’t judge this guy for having what some pundits call a “starter marriage.” Give him a chance to talk with you about why his marriage ended, and what he learned from that brief commitment. Don’t fill in the blanks for him. Stay woke. Ask questions. Listen for his answers. Notice the emotions riding beneath each of his responses. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and him in the process.

And, texting—it’s definitely possible to get to know someone via the written word. Old-school snail mail proved that. But spending time with someone reveals subtleties that texting can’t: tone of voice, emotion, energy, tension levels and attitude. If you like this man better by text than in person, that’s a red flag. Don’t ignore those feelings. You don’t have to nix a second date, though. If you choose to see him again after your upcoming dinner date, don’t text much between date one and two. If your second date leaves you longing for a text exchange, you know for certain that he’s not the man for you.

So I’ve been faking it with my boyfriend for the last two years. Not orgasms. My personality. I pretend that I’m the cool girl, the easy, agreeable girlfriend. Inside, I’m often fuming, but I smile and laugh and pretend that I’d do anything for him. It’s just that it’s so damn hard to find a guy worth staying with, and he is a keeper. His last girlfriend was so extra that he made it clear he can’t deal with that. I know that my story sounds bad, believe me. I can’t keep this smile up much longer. What should I do?

Embrace your superpower: acting chill when you’re not feeling it. It’s incredibly difficult to be aware of anger yet not unleash it on anyone. But you’ve managed that for two years. Be proud of your self-discipline. But don’t settle for tolerating attitudes or behaviors that harm you or your relationship. That may not be what’s happening, but if it is, speak up and take care of yourself. Let yourself enjoy being an equal partner in your relationship by engaging in honest conversations with your man. Work together to learn how to disagree with respect. In the end, your relationship will be stronger and so will your integrity.

Meditation of the week
“There is no health without mental health; mental health is too important to be left to the professionals alone, and mental health is everyone’s business,” says Vikram Patel. How developed are your listening skills?

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