I was woefully emotionally dependent in my first marriage. My ex-husband recently got engaged, and I was devastated as I had a ray of hope of reconciliation.
Now, I recognize my need for affirmation from others, and how my abuse history contributed to my tendency to become dependent. I believe that I am much more balanced. How do I know if I am ready to date? How can I find someone who truly wants Christ at the center? And how can I make sure that I won’t be attracted to someone who is unknowingly seeking a caretaker?
Am I Ready for Marriage
Dear Am I Ready for Marriage,
You have taken a very important first step: you have insight. This means that you are aware of potential issues from the past and how they affect your current relationships. Insight is not something that just happens, it has to be earned. I can see that you’ve done some good work into your own contributions to your dependency cycle.
Being ready to date after a divorce, or the loss of any significant relationship, has a lot to do with your process of grieving. It must have been very painful to see your ex move into another marriage when you still had hope of reconciling. Are you able now to look back on your marriage with less pain and more appreciation of the time you did have? Do you feel as if you have allowed yourself to go through the steps of mourning?
Identifying someone who keeps Christ at the center of his life should be very self-evident. Does your date feel comfortable talking about his faith? How does he live his faith? How well does he know Christ? Does he pray? Go to Mass? And finally, can he share his faith journey? Most of these indicators should come up in a very natural way, by spending time talking during the first few weeks of dating.
So here’s the good news about changing who you date: you can change who you are attracted to. If you are attracted to someone who wants a caretaker, then you have more work to do. If you start to hear the experience the same thoughts, emotions, or behaviors from your past, and if you want to break your dependency cycle, then hopefully you will simply not want to continue seeing that person. Protect your own sense of peace above anything else. If you are attracted but know you should walk away, then walk away. Take care of yourself in this situation. Don’t let your desire for a relationship undo all the hard work you’ve done.
I’m glad your asking the question, it means you are serious about making some good choices. Be sure to take not only your petitions, but also your questions to God. Ask for discernment, or another gift of the Holy Spirit. Allow Him to be your center, and it is more likely that you will meet someone who is doing the same.
Michele Fleming, M.A.