While children of divorce are equally capable of love and successful relationships as anyone else, dating one can present challenges if you are not familiar with our unique experiences. Our approach to love may seem like a double-edged sword - some days we excel at it, while other days we struggle. If you are in a relationship with someone whose parents divorced during their childhood, there are 8 key things you should be aware of:
1. We're not damaged, we're just cautious
We're not damaged or incapable of loving someone; we're simply practical when it comes to love and marriage. Recognizing that relationships can end is part of the equation, and approaching them with caution and careful consideration is not a flaw but a wise move. We reject the myths about love and see no downside to being thorough in evaluating our options and protecting ourselves. While some may view us as dysfunctional, we believe those who plunge into serious romances without considering the risks to their emotional and financial well-being are the ones with a problem.
2. We don't respond well to fighting
We despise arguing, especially when it escalates to yelling. In such situations, we may shut down, overreact, or resort to reckless behavior like going on a whiskey-fueled rampage around town. Having experienced a lot of conflict, we reject the idea that "fighting is healthy." Although we acknowledge its logical value, the thought of a potential argument triggers high anxiety levels in us. Consequently, we prefer having intellectual conversations where we can calmly discuss and resolve our differences without any emotional outbursts or shouting.
3. We always have a backup plan
We always have a backup plan in case the relationship doesn't work out, but this doesn't mean we're expecting or wanting it to fail. It's merely a precautionary measure to ensure that we're not caught off guard and are financially stable if things don't work out. We've seen our parents suffer because they didn't prepare for this eventuality, and we don't want to make the same mistake. If you were to end things abruptly, we would not be left destitute or financially vulnerable. Having a safety net and a plan in place gives us peace of mind and a sense of security if we end up alone again.
4. The idea of marriage terrifies us
The mere thought of divorce terrifies us immensely, to the point where we may act irrationally. We're afraid of ending up trapped in a miserable marriage because we're too scared to consider divorce as an option. Despite our desire to get married, we may still be plagued by doubts and fears. Engagements may even trigger some panic, but if we're sure that it's the right thing to do, we'll manage to get through it and make it to our big day.
5. We're sensitive to warning signs in the relationship
We may be slightly hypervigilant about any indications that the relationship is deteriorating. So, don't be surprised if we sometimes assume that a minor disagreement will lead to a breakup, or if we try to end things with you preemptively, seemingly for no apparent reason. Regardless of how stable our relationship appears, we carry the weight of knowing that even the strongest relationships can crumble into disasters. Therefore, we can't help but be watchful for potential issues and the possibility of impending doom.
6. We have a strange relationship with compromise
Growing up, we witnessed our parents argue relentlessly over trivial matters, and we were often dragged into the middle of it to mediate and avoid the situation escalating. Consequently, we became adept at compromising on minor things, like choosing a restaurant for dinner. You'll likely never find yourself in a disagreement with us over trivial matters, such as what to watch on Netflix or which lamps to purchase for the guest bedroom.
However, when it comes to significant decisions, we draw a line and refuse to compromise. We've seen our mothers suffer from delaying getting an advanced degree, waiting for a "better time" that never came. We've watched our fathers struggle when they were coerced into buying houses they couldn't afford. We've witnessed individuals win arguments about how many children to have, and the other party feeling resentful.
We're not willing to make substantial compromises when it comes to significant matters. If the relationship ends, all of those enormous compromises were for nothing, and the individual who made them is left bitter and resentful. We're determined not to become angry and full of regret if the relationship ends or place all of our faith in this relationship lasting forever for future happiness.
7. We might have a couple of relationship handicaps
Depending on how the divorce unfolded, we might still be grappling with a few issues. It's tough not to have trust issues if there was infidelity, anxiety if the divorce was particularly traumatic, or a general pessimism about relationships if our parents' marriage began with great promise. We understand that we are not our parents and that our lives can be different, but these problems may resurface from time to time. Please be patient with us as we work through them.
8. When we commit to someone, we're in it 100%
If you manage to get one of us to commit to you, you're in for a passionate ride. We don't take commitment or serious relationships lightly. We'll invest everything we have into the relationship because if we've gotten this far, we believe you're incredibly special. Having seen the pain, trauma, financial struggles, and devastation that comes with divorce, we're taking a big risk by putting our trust and happiness in someone else. It's a huge deal for us to be willing to take that leap of faith, so you need to recognize the significance of that risk and not let us down. We don't want to experience that level of heartbreak again.