Fear of Dating After Divorce

By Amy Dickinson | February 10th, 2023

Plus the ‘proper’ people to invite to a baby shower

A worried woman with her head in her hands. The woman feels she's moved on after ending a long, terrible marriage, but now that she’s in love again, she fears dating after divorce.

A woman feels she has moved on after ending a long and terrible marriage, but now that she’s fallen for another man, she has discovered new fears in dating after divorce. Plus a woman is offended she was invited to a baby shower. See what advice columnist Amy Dickinson advises in this edition of “Ask Amy.”

Dear Amy:

I ended a long and terrible marriage with an addict a couple of years ago. The marriage was over for a long time but because of debt and the pandemic, it took us a lot longer than I wanted for the marriage to finally be done.

By the end, it was like a prison sentence.

Throughout that process and for a couple years after, I spent time working on being a stronger, independent person – both for myself and for my daughters.

Recently I started trying to date again.

I met a few very nice men, but I didn’t really connect. I was sure that I was good and happy being single.

But then I met a man who really got to me. We’ve been seeing each other for about a month. Now I’m smitten.

My problem now is that I’m so attracted to him and so scared of being hurt that I just want to break up before that happens. I know he likes me too, but I don’t think he likes me as much as I do him.

It’s a very scary place to be.

I have a therapist who advises me to just have fun, but I’m getting more and more scared as time goes on – and I just want to run and hide.

I’m too old for this silliness! Please help me to see this more clearly.

– Burned

Dear Burned:

First of all, this is not “silliness.” For you, fully engaging in a sexual and emotional relationship reveals your extreme vulnerability. This is the ongoing consequence of your previous experience, which you describe as a “prison sentence.”

Yes – your therapist’s advice to “just have fun” is positive and logical. But if you are becoming more afraid of moving forward in a relationship, then your therapist should encourage you to confront and explore your fear. And in my opinion, your fear is also completely logical. If you’ve been in prison, it seems smart to try to avoid incarceration in the future.

Being smitten is such a great feeling to have, but the feeling brings forth a realization of what a great risk it can be to fall for someone. The last time this happened for you, look at what happened!

My advice is to do your best to move forward in this relationship, but to try to view it as part of your process, rather than the terminus of your search for happiness with a new partner. The lack of balance you perceive between you two is a red flag. You already have awareness of that, and so pay attention to your instincts.

The right partner for you will hear your story, accept your challenges, and move forward at a pace that still feels thrilling, but is more comfortable for you.

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Dear Amy:

I have a friend who is hosting a baby shower for her pregnant daughter.

Her daughter lives out of state, and I have only met her once. It was a quick and short introduction with no other interaction.

I am invited to the baby shower, but I feel uncomfortable with this as I do not know the daughter and will not know anyone at the shower except my friend.

I believe invites to the shower should be for family and friends of the expectant mother. Is it proper to be invited to a shower where you do not know the person?

– Uncomfortable

Dear Uncomfortable:

It sounds to me as if the prospective grandmother is trying to spread out her own joy by including at least one of her own friends in the shower guest list. Baby showers seem to have grown from being modest affairs hosted in someone’s living room to full-blown “events.”

I can’t comment on whether it is “proper” for you to be invited to this shower. It is, however, proper to respond promptly to an invitation, expressing your appreciation for the invitation, as well as your polite regrets: “Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it, but congratulations, Grandma! I hope everyone has a great and joyful time.”

Want to get even more life tips from Amy? Read more of her advice columns here!

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from dating after divorce to DNA surprises. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2023 by Amy Dickinson

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