Divorce is one of the most challenging things a person can go through in their adult life. When you think about getting divorced, it's easy to imagine a middle-aged couple deciding to go their separate ways. Or if you're a child of divorced parents, you might think of the pain you felt when your parents decided to separate. In your early 20s, we don't often think about how difficult divorce can be for people our own age unless you've gone through it yourself.
I've recently made two girlfriends in their early 20s who are newly divorced. Speaking with them about their experiences has opened my eyes to the different ways people cope with trauma, grief, and grow out of toxic or emotionally unstable relationships. Everyone takes their own path to healing, but here are a few suggestions for moving forward from divorce under 25.
Stand Up for Yourself in Legal Proceedings
Often in young relationships that fail, people fall into more traditional gender roles. This could mean being financially or emotionally dependent upon their husbands (or wives). San Diego divorce lawyers say in divorce proceedings, it is important to ensure you get what you are owed. Discuss the idea of spousal support with your divorce lawyer. If children are involved in the separation, make sure your bases are covered with regard to child support and child custody.
That said, don't expect your ex to compensate you for everything you may have given up in the relationship. Maintain your independence and strength throughout the relationship and throughout the split. If you had been dependent on your ex before divorce, use the separation as a boost to pick yourself back up and find a little stability on your own. Putting on a brave face may seem difficult in the moment, but there's truth behind the phrase "fake it until you make it".
Find Someone to Confide In
In the process of any significant life change, it can be helpful to share your thoughts and feelings with supportive people around you and friends who have been through the same thing. Unfortunately for young divorcees, it's less common to have peers going through the same experiences. Many people have reported feeling isolated as a young ex. Some are afraid to tell the people they're close to, fearing they'll be seen as a failure.
It's important to find someone you can talk to about what you're going through. For some that may be a close friend or relative, but it may also be a good idea to seek out the help of a therapist or psychologist if it's within your means. Experts can provide unbiased support with a variety of tools and tactics to help you get through challenging times. This could also mean finding a community in which you feel supported, like a women's club or fitness group.
Give Yourself Time to Process
No matter the circumstances, divorce isn't easy. There's a lot of grief, sadness, and hopefully acceptance that comes into play. But through the experience, there's a lot of opportunity for personal growth and transformation. Being single may seem like the worst thing in the world, but it gives you the opportunity to learn about yourself. The experience may have given you a new perspective on what love means, what kind of relationship you want, and how to feel wholly independent. The most important relationship you will ever have is your relationship with yourself, and separation will give you the space to cultivate it.
Take the time you need to process your emotions about your divorce. As with most breakups, it's common for people to bounce into a rebound relationship or try to get over someone by finding someone else. If you want to become better as a result of your experience rather than falling into the same pattern again, give yourself space to listen to your own thoughts and recover.
Don't Lose Hope
Don't think of yourself as a failure. One failed relationship, no matter how serious it was, will ever mean the end of it all. If you feel like your world has fallen apart, remember that it's just a feeling. You will be OK, and you are strong enough to make it through this tough time. It can be important to mourn your old life, but it's also important to view the change as a fresh start with a happier outcome. Once you've taken the time to process, you'll be better equipped to know what you're looking for in a new relationship. Family law experts have noticed a trend in millennial divorcees, noting that these days newly separated people are more optimistic about new relationships due to the prevalence of online dating and apps. Divorce may be the end of this chapter, but it's not the end of your story.
If you are going through a divorce in your early 20s, be proud of yourself for making an active choice to live your life the way you want. Settling for an unhappy or unhealthy relationship is soooooo 1950s. It may be challenging, but take a nod from Lizzo and be your own soulmate for a while. See how far you can grow.