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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

From an Introvert's Perspective: WebMD's Health News, Divorced Men

You can read the actual article HERE.

By way of preface, my employer provides WedMD health updates (and an actual WebMD account) to employees.  Most of the time it provides some pretty useful information.  In fact, even this time it provides some useful information, but after reading this particular piece over lunch I just had to provide some commentary.

Also, I'm going to go into quasi-uncharted territory here, by way of even talking about divorce.  As a general rule this isn't something I, as a divorced parent, necessarily like or want to talk about, but I'm going to move just a tad bit out of my own comfort zone for this particular exercise.  Besides, the primary focus here isn't my thoughts about divorce, but rather this particular set of advice from the lens of a divorced man who is also a strong introvert.


The points I'm listing below correspond to those in the WebMD article.

Point 1 - "Dating Too Soon"
This is one where I am somewhat conflicted.  Yes, I see the underlying wisdom, but think about it for a moment:  so what is a divorced man supposed to do?  I guess the advice here is to be in a series of "non-committed" relationships.  Maybe this means "sleep around" or something...I really don't know.  Again, I get it, and I've read all about how "vulnerable" someone can be when they are on the "rebound", but for some of us introverts, having multiple casual relationships just isn't all that easy or desirable.  I personally don't have that many different levels of relationships...if I like you I want to get to know you well; if I don't like you well then we will not be spending any time together.  It's this notion of "casual relationships" that I have the biggest problem processing through my introverted lens.

So yes, by all means be guarded, but simply waiting two years before even considering a more serious relationship sounds, well, silly to me.  How about this instead:  if it feels rushed, it is.  If it feels right, then take it slow and try to remember all the reasons why you got divorced in the first place (a.k.a. going from one mistake to another is simply pretty damn stupid).

Point 2 - Isolating Yourself
I agree wholeheartedly with the point being made, that is up until the following comment...

"Buser's advice: Connect with other guys. Call up old friends, join a softball team, a club, or a professional association."

Drinking oneself into a bitter stupor is bad.  I get it.  However, thinking that I am all of a sudden going to become "Mr Social" and start joining all these group activities isn't all that realistic for someone who actually doesn't like social activities all that much. I've heard this advice before (from my own Therapist), and it almost always comes from extroverts who think nothing of "joining".  That's never worked for me.  Throwing me into social situations makes me more stressed, not less.  I need alternatives that make me comfortable, not force me to pretend to be something I am not.  Those commercials for "the stir" at clearly aren't made with introverts in mind.

Side note:  how about "Christian", where they find you "God's match"?  Call me crazy but I'm thinking that an all-powerful Creator of the Universe probably doesn't need you to pay money to a for-profit company in order to find "His match".  And so I digress...

Point 3 - Introducing Your New Partner to Your Kids Too Soon
I get this one, and by and large it makes sense.  It's also, however, personality neutral.  People in relationships that involve kids should always keep the interests of the kids in the forefront.

Point 4 -Giving In To Hostility
I agree 1000%.  My home county requires that divorcing parents attend a class run by a Therapist, the intent of which is to provide them with tips on how to best navigate the process and the resulting feelings in ways that are not harmful.  I found it (the class) to be extremely helpful when I attended.  Well worth my time, and the Therapist made some of the same points noted in the WebMD article.  Even if your ex-spouse is not cooperative, learning how to respond without hostility pays real dividends.

Point 5 - Backing Off From Parenting
Done right, I am convinced that divorce can help make you a better parent.  I know this sounds almost pathetic, but I think it is especially true for introverts.  Why?  Well it gives us an opportunity to introspectively think about what kind of parent we actually want to be when faced with the changes that divorce force upon us.   It is a kind of second chance at parenting, and generally speaking it's foolish to not take advantage of the second chances that life give us.

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