In this solo episode, Nicole gets personal! She digs into the roller coaster of healing after divorce, and confronting what she had to overcome in order to date again.
In this episode, she shares the TOP learnings she had along the way, including the things she will NEVER compromise on again in relationships.
If you are going through a divorce, separation, or heartbreak, or are dating, this episode is for you. A change in relationship status might feel like the hardest thing you’ve ever experienced, and it’s also possible for it to be the catalyst for true growth.
So grab your headphones and get ready for an episode filled with personal stories and expansion.
And HEADS UP! Nicole is hosting her dating coach, Andi Forness, on the podcast next week, where they talk about what it looks like to put it ALL into practice. Hit subscribe so you don’t miss out!
“Divorce was a massive reckoning about identity, about what I wanted in my life, and what my future would look like.”
“I had to reflect so I could truly have the super magnificent relationship of my dreams and to be able to create that. A lot of this reflection showed up by me examining patterns in dating and then patterns that showed up ultimately in my beta marriage.”
“Emotional availability is not just the facts or the challenges or the things that you have gone through. I am talking about the things that scare you to say out loud, the things that you are worried about, the fears that you might have when it comes to your partner, and especially a life partner.”
“The only way to heal from old relationships is to be in a new one. We cannot heal by ourselves on the couch. We can only heal by actually participating in a relationship and then learning to break and shatter those old patterns and blocks that are keeping you from creating the relationship of your dreams.”
“I stopped compromising on holding back on my preferences.”
“If you’re holding back on your preferences, you’re holding back on the expression of who you are. You’re holding back on the amazing and true nature of yourself in the world.”
“If you’re not stating preferences, there is something happening where you are actually giving your power away to other people. You’re giving away your value and worth of what you think about, what you care about, what you want, what matters in this world. This is something I see so often with high achieving women. Everything else comes before you.”
“I see all the time in [my marriage] so many things that we have been intentional about, that we have built together and we have chosen to create. From the very beginning, we’ve been very clear on that and we get to be in the joy of having created that relationship.”
Hello and welcome back to the School of Self-Worth. Today I’m doing things differently with a solo episode about the three things I stopped compromising on post-divorce. Next week, I’ll be interviewing my dating coach, Andi Forness, and I wanted to get you all good and ready for the mic drops that she has in store for you, by sharing today about what I did to get ready to date again after divorce. This is the goodness I love to share, so hold on to your seats. So much greatness is coming in this episode. I cannot wait to share it with all of you. And if you are a high-achieving woman who wants to uncover your worth and value so you can step into your most courageous life in 2 hours or less per week, DM me worthy on Instagram. I have got something for you. Okay, let’s get started.
Hi, everyone. Today is a much more personal episode. I’m going to take you into the time machine back to the moment and the time in my life when I was going through divorce. And divorce will cause the most massive self-reflection you can possibly imagine on literally every level of your life. As the kids would say, ‘I was in it’.
I was in deep during that time, and I will say I am really grateful for that period of my life. I learned so much about myself. I transformed truly from the inside out through that experience, and I would not take it back for anything. Truly, it really transformed and changed so much. And during that time, I will say it was really difficult, and more difficult than anything I had encountered up to that point. So if you’re listening and you are going through a divorce, you are separating from someone you love. Know that this episode is for you, and I created it for you because I want you to know that you are seen, you are heard, you are loved, and that will never change, no matter what is going on in the circumstances of your life. I know that for myself, sometimes I felt very frustrated or challenged when people would tell me that it was better once I had gotten through it, that I would be happier, and really it would be a gift. Ultimately, I also sometimes liked it.
If that’s what you need to hear, I also promise you that that is true. Okay, so let’s get into what I want to share with you today around the three things I stopped compromising on post-divorce, especially around dating. And this is particularly focused on dating. Before I get into that, I want to say this: I don’t know anybody who gets married thinking they’re going to get divorced. It’s kind of the antithesis of what marriage is actually about. I will say for myself, I was definitely not that person. I got married because that was what I wanted. I expected a future life till death do us part in that relationship.
So divorce, when it came to me, was not expected. I really was not expecting it. And I did not have this in my life plan. When I was faced with it, it was a really massive reckoning about identity, about what I wanted in my life, what my future would look like. The one thing I was super, super clear on is that I wanted to be married again. I knew that for sure. That meant I was going to have to date, and that meant I was going to have to look at dating in my 40s in a totally different way. And it also actually meant I had to reflect, so I could truly have the super magnificent relationship of my dreams and be able to create that.
A lot of this reflection showed up by me examining patterns in dating and then patterns that showed up ultimately in my beta marriage. And while it would have been very easy to blame him, my beta husband, for all of these things, the truth is what I’m about to share with you are the qualities that I was missing, that showed up in the marriage. And I really showed up in that marriage without the awareness that I now have. We had a beautiful relationship for much of the time we were together, so I still feel very grateful for the time we spent together and grateful for the ultimate experience of growth that I went through with the divorce.
Let’s get into it. Let’s talk about the first and most important thing that I had to reckon with post-divorce – and that was lack of emotional availability. Now, you might be thinking, was he lacking emotional availability? I would say that we were both lacking that. I of course, thought that perhaps he was the one who really was lacking emotional availability. But when I started to reflect upon the relationship, I realized how much I had not done that. So let’s talk first about what emotional availability is. And emotional availability is truly not necessarily vulnerability. Vulnerability is like sharing about what is going on in general in your life. Emotional availability is really sharing about what is happening on that deeper emotional level. So it’s not just the facts or the challenges or the things that you have gone through. Also not to say that being vulnerable in that way isn’t valuable.
I am talking about the things that scare you to say out loud, the things that you are worried about, the fears that you might have when it comes to your partner, and especially a life partner. Studies have shown that emotional availability is one of the three most important components of a relationship that can go the distance. So when I look back at that relationship, I realize that what happened is I stopped being emotionally available. And this was something that I learned. It was a pattern that I learned, and it was a pattern I didn’t understand that I had. And while I will say there was obviously enough emotional availability between us for us to get married, it requires that to start to contemplate a future together. It really disappeared after we were married.
A lot of it was me. I assumed things were fine, I assumed everything was good. Even though we were going through some pretty massive challenges, like life situations where really there was so much happening for us, from personal health challenges to moving my parents to Seattle, to financial challenges. Like everything you could think of really was occurring in our marriage and I was not sharing about it, I was not sharing where I felt nervous, where I felt scared, and asking him how he might feel about it. And it really never occurred to me to check in on it. And it’s sort of funny now to look back on it because I would never run. Not run. I would never live a relationship that way anymore.
But back then I really didn’t know better and I had never really been taught better. I will say I have done an immense amount of personal development work in the relationship arena since my divorce, and I really recommend it, because I didn’t have any of that before my beta marriage and it really would have helped me on many different levels. And so if you’re thinking about that, there are so many books to read, and there are so many coaches who really support people in this arena. And I really took a lot of time to look at it, and I will be sharing even more about that in the episode next week with Andi.
Getting back to what was happening in my marriage, I really thought we were on the same page. I never thought to do anything different. I thought everything was going well, and that because we had gotten married, it kind of was done. Like, things were clicked into place and things were fine.
I never shared what I was scared of or what made me nervous or worried about our relationship. I never even bothered to ask, how are you feeling about our relationship? So when I started dating, or I was considering dating, I really had to look at my lack of emotional availability and to understand more deeply that this was a learned behavior. And I had to also start to learn to practice it. Now, practicing emotional availability is terrifying, especially if you have never done it. And the reason I didn’t do it is because I was afraid of it. I was afraid of what the other person would say. I was afraid that they would tell me something I didn’t want to hear, and so I didn’t really want to do it. And I had to learn to practice it to become better at it, and I also had to learn to practice it in my current relationship, so that it was built into the fabric and the foundation of what we have together.
And I’ll say, I’m still figuring it out. I am still working on it. I am so fortunate to have a really incredible husband who is very open to what I share, and it’s because it was built into the fabric of our relationship. Again, I share more about this and how I did that in the episode with Andi, where we talk about that and I have to constantly monitor myself, where I start to get afraid or feel like I don’t want to tell him something or feel nervous about telling him something. Those are always a sign that it is time to tell him what’s happening on the inside. When you’re starting to heal from a relationship, you’ll notice these old patterns come up. Andi gets into this in our episode where she talks about the only way to heal from old relationships, is to be in a new one.
We cannot heal by ourselves on the couch. We can only heal by actually participating in a relationship and then learning to break and shatter those old patterns and blocks that are keeping you from creating the relationship of your dreams. So some of you may also need one more piece of emotional availability. Some of you might be more emotionally available to your friends than you are to your partner. It’s the truth. I did it. I would tell my friends how I felt. I would talk about things from that place. And some of you might be talking about your partner or things you’re frustrated with, or you’re feeling challenged by, and not sharing it directly with the person that you’re actually partnered with.
This again is a really big practice and emotional availability is again the number one thing that people who are dating really want. What I also see, is that people expect it from the other person, without doing it themselves. So, if you’re not actually practicing it, it will be challenging for you to call in a partner who also practices it. Ultimately, it has to start with you.
Okay, so let me move on to the second thing that I stopped compromising on. And this one was learning. I stopped compromising on holding back on my preferences. So what does that mean? I was a people pleaser. I’m a recovering people pleaser where I really like people to be happy, I want other people to feel good, I want them to be eating food that they like, I want them to be enjoying themselves. I always deferred and then this pattern gets particularly bad for me with a relationship and with a family. I always was in the pattern of asking everybody else what they wanted before asking myself.
Not only did I not state it, but I often also did not even know I had a preference. I didn’t even know what I wanted because I never asked myself. I would always check in to see, ‘What do you want to do this weekend? What kind of food do you want to eat? Where do you want to go out?’ And I did this in my beta marriage, I did it with my stepkids and then I also did it with friends and family. And the result was I didn’t even recognize or understand that I actually had some preferences, and I actually had some strong ones. And this is not about you getting your way, this is not about that at all, and please do not look at it that way.
I want you to see though, that some of you are holding back what it is you do prefer and that by stating it, you might actually get it. Like it might actually come true. And so if you’re holding back on your preferences, you’re holding back on the expression of who you are. You’re holding back on the amazing and true nature of yourself in the world. This pattern of holding back was something that was really evident for me when I got out of the marriage because I now had to make decisions for only myself. And then I would have to ask myself like, ‘What do you want to eat? What kind of vacation do you want to take? What exercise do you like? How do you want to spend your time?’ And I’m not saying that you don’t have to compromise on some things in marriage, because of course, you do. Do you know what your preferences are like now? I laugh because I really would hike every single weekend. But I identified that during the time I was single and had to ask myself my preferences.
And that’s not always Michael’s preference, but I at least state that preference and then we can talk about what our lives look like, what does our weekend look like? So I know how to state it even if I don’t always get my actual preference. I do get into more about how I started to practice this in the episodes with Andi, so check that out and just know that if you’re not stating preferences, there is something happening where you are actually giving your power away to other people. You’re giving away your value and worth of what I think about, what I care about, what I want, matters in this world. And this is something I see so often with high-achieving women. Everything else comes before you. Your boss, your team, your coworkers, your friends, your mom, your sister, your brother, your nieces, your nephews. I mean, literally, the list is endless.
Like what do they need, what do they want? Rather than you actually tuning into the preferences that you have and then putting that into the pot, checking it out, saying actually this is my preference, this is what I would really like for myself in my life. If you’re not doing it, this is also a place to look for yourself – regardless of whether you’re going through separation or divorce, understanding your own preferences is in itself a practice.
Okay, so this leads me to my third thing I stopped compromising on, and this one is a doozy. I was compromising on my self-worth and value in that last relationship, and I stopped doing that in dating after divorce. What do I mean by that? What was I doing? So during the divorce, I was starting to get really curious about places where I gave away my power, and I realized it came very early in dating. I’ll just say this, don’t get me wrong, my ex was actually a really wonderful human and we had a wonderful relationship and I really believed that I had to be chosen first. Like that was the big piece. I had learned that that’s something we learn in our culture, especially if you’re in a heteronormative relationship, that the men choose the women.
I was in this place where I wanted to be chosen. And then there was also the second layer of this, of me feeling like there are not many people to choose me. There was a lot of scarcity for me around being chosen. I thought that there were not that many guys who would actually choose me. And on the surface, I seemed so successful and smart. I had a really good career. I had pivoted from journalism into yoga. I was really strong physically. I had my fitness column in the Seattle Times. On the surface, so much success. But I was insecure about whether they think I’m attractive? Do they think I’m pretty? Will they be attracted to my body? Do I have a good body for what they like? All of those pieces come into play. I was really in the scarcity of, like, it’s hard to find someone who will choose me. And then when I was dating, I was like, oh, it’s really hard to find someone where you get along and you laugh and it’s so fun, and there’s just so much chemistry between the two of you. So when I met my ex, I was in that mode of like, well, it’s okay because he is worth it. We have such connection and such chemistry, and our relationship is so fun that I am willing to give up some things that matter to me, or I am willing to overlook some things that matter to me, for the sake of this relationship.
And when I look back on it, the mindset really was like, there were no other men available. There were no other people for me to choose from, to have the relationship and the marriage, in particular. And I will say, at that time in my life, I really wanted to be married. I was in my mid-30s when I met him, and I was in a mode of like, please, I’m ready for this. And so I let some things slide, and I let things slide that I would not let slide today. And again, he is a wonderful human. We had a really great relationship while it lasted. And there were signs early on that I was giving up my worth and value for the sake of the relationship, for the sake of being chosen.
It’s just so helpful to look back and see that, because once you can see and identify those places where you compromised yourself, where you actually were out of integrity with yourself, there was information I didn’t know from him early on that I would never have let go. Now, there wasn’t a lot of openness in certain areas of his life, and I just was like, that’s okay. We get along so well. Things are really great. And now looking back, that, for me, wouldn’t be a conversation that I was as open to. Like us really, ultimately getting into a relationship. So when we look back at those things and we take out any judgment by the way of ourselves or of the other person, this is really, truly, truly, truly about self-reflection. It is really, truly about growth.
It is really about what you want for that next piece of your life. Because I will say this – nobody is perfect. Nobody is perfect, myself included. We are not about finding people who are air, quote, ‘perfect’. It’s more about what you getting to choose and learn from the relationships you’ve had, so that you can move on to the relationships that are the next level for you, that truly take it to the place of joy and creation and connection and emotional availability, and worth and value that you really get to have in this lifetime. I spent a lot of time looking back at that time and saying, ‘Wow, it’s really interesting how I gave my power away.’ And I did it quite a few times and I didn’t see it that way. I didn’t think of it that way. I thought of it as compromising. I thought of it as it’s okay because it’s so great.
Like, things are so great here. And really what was happening is those were simply signs that there could be trouble down the road. I say this obviously from the perspective of we did ultimately get divorced. So the point of this is going back, and looking at all of those things, is what allowed me to say, ‘Okay, how do I want to date differently? How do I want to go into a relationship differently? How do I want to stand in my worth and my power, to state my preferences, to be emotionally available?’ And these are all things that took me time and practice to get into because these were really long-standing old patterns that I had to change, to break, to shift, to ultimately meet my husband Michael, and to marry him and to be in the relationship that we have now. And it was absolutely worth. Like, I see all the time in our relationship so many things that we have been intentional about, that we have built together, and we have chosen to create. And I really credit again, teachers and coaches and people who worked with me to support me, to be in that reflection without any judgment, just reflection, to say, okay, what is it time for me to do next? What can I do? What can I create? To be patient, to wait for the perfect timing for the person to show up, and then to be on the other side, where I really met someone who is in the relationship in the way that works for me. From the very beginning, we’ve been very clear on that, and we get to be in the joy of having created that relationship.
I am so grateful to all of you for listening and hearing this. I would love to hear any insights you’re getting from what I’m sharing, and what you might be learning in this practice, or even if you’re in a current relationship, there is always something to learn, there is always expansion. And I will say that that is one of my top personal values. That was something I really looked for in the relationship I’m in right now, for us to continuously be in growth and expansion. And it came from me looking back, it came from me reflecting. And even in current relationships, if you’re like, ‘I don’t know if that’s happening’, you are making the choice that for yourself is going to shift your relationship. I promise you, I see it over and over and over again. So if you are seeing any insights for yourself, please DM me on Instagram and share a screenshot of the podcast, and put it up and let everyone know about this.
Most importantly, stay tuned for next week when my dating coach, Andi Forness, will be on here to get even deeper into the nitty gritty of what it looks like to date in midlife. And I would say, in general, what does it look like to date with intention, with your power intact, and from this evolved developmental perspective? And there’s so much power in what she shares, I cannot wait for you all to hear it. So stay tuned for next week, and I’ll see you all there. Bye.