The emotional burden that one faces after divorce can be absolutely debilitating. Not only do you have to contend with the legal and financial aspects of the divorce process itself, but you also have to cope with the reality that your marriage is ending and “life as you know it” is changing in every possible way.
After being married, it might seem unnatural to be single again, but the fact of the matter is, divorce should never be a reason to put a full stop on your life. Tamsen Fadal’s book The New Single isn’t a post-divorce dating guide. Rather, it’s a manual for those coming out of a marriage who need help navigating the road back to a relationship with one’s self.
Here, Amanda Steinberg, DailyWorth CEO and an expert contributor to The New Single, takes a moment to speak with Tamsen about her book.
What is The New Single?
The New Single is a lifestyle manual about starting over again after divorce, except it focuses on starting with yourself. To me, the new single is a person who has been through a tough breakup and/or divorce, and is realizing that they have to fall back in love with themselves before entering into another relationship. When my marriage ended, I felt like a failure. I realized that, in order to start over again, I needed a step-by-step process to begin the journey, and that’s what this book is about — but the journey’s first step is with yourself. There are so many other women out there going through a divorce or a breakup, just like I was, and that’s why I wrote this book.
Why do you think women in particular see it as failure? Why is it in our culture that “being together” is somehow better than being separated, when so many of us were miserable in our marriages in the first place?
Perhaps it’s because many of us grew up in a home where our parents were married and stayed married. The divorce rate was very different for our generation. Maybe it’s what we were used to hearing as girls, that you’re going to go to school, you’re going to get a job, and you’re going to get married and have children. I’m not against marriage in any way. I would love to have an absolutely fully balanced life that includes marriage, but the fact of the matter is, my marriage did not work out. Maybe it’s just a perception of what we think it’s supposed to be.
What’s your advice to someone who is alone, who really wants to be with someone special and have a partner in life? How do you help them fall in love with being single when it’s not what most people really want in the long run?
I don’t think my goal in any of this is to [have you] fall in love with being single, rather than to fall back in love with who you are. A lot of us, men and women, change who we are to accommodate someone else, so much that it is a detriment to ourselves. I don’t want readers to feel this is about loving being single. I want readers to fall in love with themselves and remember who they are to the very core.
Let’s say you’re talking to someone and they’ve been divorced for a year or two. If they’re really depressed because it’s just not how they expected their life to work out, and the idea of falling back in love with yourself feels so remote to someone who is under such a dark cloud, what do you say to them?
Make yourself a to-do list, even for the most mundane things. When I was going through it, my list was comprised of every facet of my day: “get out of bed,” “get dressed,” “walk down the street,” “go to the gym,” “get your coffee at Starbucks.” I literally had to map out every aspect of my life so it became more of something that I followed until I settled back into a routine.
Do you address finances at all in the book?
This is a huge topic when it comes to divorce. I, myself was financially broke after my divorce. These topics are addressed in the book with experts who have been chosen because they have been through it. It’s not just happenstance. They are not only experts in their field; they also have been through the process.
When we become single again, suddenly we’re “independent,” and it almost seems like an undesirable quality for women. Do you help women adjust to the positive side — reshaping that independence — that it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re unwanted, it’s just a way of being in the world?
Independence can sound very scary. I’ve heard this over and over again: Men don’t like women who are too self-confident, too much into their careers, but I don’t buy that. Independence doesn’t have to mean offensive. Independence means you can handle yourself. Nobody wants someone that’s leaning on them all the time. You want someone that comes to the relationship with something to give so that you can build together. A relationship should make you happy. You don’t hang around friends that make you unhappy all the time just to have someone there. You should apply the same rules to your romantic relationship.
What would you like the readers of DailyWorth to come away from this interview with?
I see so many people giving this advice after a divorce: Get back out there and find someone else. The problem with this is, if you get right back out there, you’re going to find yourself in the same toxic relationship you were in before. That’s why it was so important to me to write more of a lifestyle manual, a book that’s a recipe for building yourself up again and healing from the inside out.
Tamsen Fadal is an Emmy award-winning journalist, producer, and author. Her most recent book, The New Single (get your copy here), is a self-help guide of empowerment after a breakup or divorce. She shares her own experiences and advice for how to find, fix, and fall back in love with yourself.
Tamsen Fadal is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.