Post Breakup Email: Don’t do it!

Don’t do it! Don’t answer that text! (That’s what everyone tells you.)

But you do it anyway. And you pay, big time.

Here’s what happens: You’ve said goodbye to your lover. You’ve finally done the godawful, painful, gut wrenching break-up talk. Maybe there were tears. Or a stun gun that made you emotionless. Or you screamed at each other. Or you had breakup sex (it happens a lot). Or you set a date to “revisit” the relationship. Perhaps you said, “It’s not you, it’s me”. Or, “I will carry you in my heart forever, no matter what”. Or, “Get the hell out of here, you lousy (son of a) bitch!” Whatever, it’s awful. But it’s done. You leave.

Then, the pain lives in your body for weeks. You truly understand the meaning of “broken heart”. You can hardly talk to other people. At work, you do nothing more than push papers around. Your friends want you to get out of the house, but you don’t want to. You’re too angry, hurt, lonely, decimated, sad, despondent, and damn it, you miss him/her. No matter what your reason for the break up, you f)&(&*^^ miss him/her.

You ache to connect, though you know it’s a mistake. You’d be simply checking in. After all, you shared so much. He/she had become a part of your soul.

At the same time, there’s a little small voice inside saying, “I’m taking baby steps to heal. Please don’t talk to him/her. Not yet.”

Then the text arrives. It’s a simple “Hi. How are you?”. Isn’t it amazing the amount of meanings you can read into those four words? He misses me! She’s lonely! He still cares! Maybe we do need to talk! He/she thinks I’ve moved on and I still love him/her! Ad infinitum.

Senior man sending text message

Stop. Pause. Breathe. This is your evil twin sending those thoughts to your brain. Whatever it means, it doesn’t matter. You need to heal. If you respond, you will rip wide open the scab that has delicately filmed over the wound. Instead, grit your teeth. Swear, cuss, cry, beat your fists on the wall. Do whatever you have to do NOT to respond.

You do all that, but then…

The justification. “I can’t be cruel. I owe him/her a short reply, at least.” You answer the text by saying, “see email”. Bingo! The sold out performance has begun, and the curtain rises on the tragic, pathetic, self-punishing and all too common first act of “Post Break Up Email Drama”.

Act one: you confess how hard it’s been, how much you miss her, but it’s the right thing . She writes back confessing the same, but that it has to be this way for now. Act two: You both rehash all the reasons it won’t work. This could take weeks. Act three: At some point, you have to say good bye again. You request: please don’t write back. He writes back to say he won’t write back. You respond with thank you. He replies: No worries, I understand. This, too, could go on for weeks.

At some point, it ends. Then, there you are. The play is over. The theater is empty. The drama has ended. You’re alone, sad, heartbroken, despondent, and lost – all over again.

With a few scene changes, most of us have done this scenario, sadly. What do we have to do to learn that it takes time to heal emotionally? Connecting within 6 months of a break-up is fodder for agony. The second time around, however, our friends aren’t as patient. Our support system isn’t as solid. We have to handle it ourselves. It’s pretty much mental torture. You’re right back at square one. And it aches worse than the first goodbye.

Why? When we break up, we’re ending an addiction to this person. Not exactly heroin, but our brain has become accustomed to the habit of this person, good or bad. Even our sense of smell is addicted. You simply can’t go back to the habit – at least not for awhile. I tell my clients it has to be at least 6 months. Every time you make contact, you can consider yourself back on day one, with a fresh six months to go.

Furthermore, we have to get the 30,000 foot perspective. At six months, you can rationally look at that person and objectively see if the fit is right. Right now, you’re too close to it. You hurt too much, and you’ll do anything to stop the hurt. That includes create stories in your mind of how you wanted it to be, and maybe it can work after all. From the six month distance, you can make up your mind with less distractions. If he/she finds someone else in that time, you can deal with it, then. The blinding flash of the obvious is that perhaps he/she didn’t care as much as you thought. Or, they couldn’t take the loneliness. Or, here’s a concept: maybe the breakup was the right thing to do, and this will free you to move on. Then, there’s always the possibility that you might find someone new. So be it. All’s fair in love and war.

Affairs of the human heart make work problems look like a walk in the park. When you’re tempted to text, email, or call, say, “STOP!”. Listen to that little voice trying to heal. Do everything you can to resist. Wait 6 months.

However, if you give in and call, know you’re in good company with the rest of us. But if you can be wise, and wait 6 months (it’s not that long, really), you will give your emotional health a big boost and that unbearable heartbreak will mend much faster.

When that first text comes in, hang tough. You’re giving up instant sugar gratification that will only cause you to crash harder. Instead, you’ll be rewarded with healing and that horrid knot in your stomach will disappear faster. Delayed gratification is always harder, but guaranteed worth the effort. You can do this!

Divorced And Dating? 10 Tips To Survive His (Or Her) Family Over The Holidays

Three weeks before Christmas, I met my new boyfriend’s family in Sonoma. At the time, I was 61 and he was 66 years old.

As we approached the café, I saw his sister. She sat rigid on a stool, arms and legs crossed, scrutinizing me. Right before we walked up to her, my date warned, “My sister can be a little abrupt.”

Read more on Huffington Post

Divorce: Here’s Your Holiday Survival Kit

The season of over-indulgence, glitter, unrealistic expectations and fantasy has arrived. But I refuse to buy in.

On Black Friday, I wrote a letter to several people on my annual gift list.

I told them: “My gift this year won’t come in Priority Mail, by FedEx, or UPS. It’s coming from my heart, right here in this letter. I want you to know how much your friendship means to me. Thank you for being there for me this year. I treasure you!”

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Reinvention After Divorce: 5 Steps to Avoid the Sunday Evening Blues

It’s late afternoon on Sunday. The weekend hourglass is trickling down to its last bit of sand and you feel a pervasive sadness cascading over you.

As the afternoon wanes into evening, the intensity of the “Sunday blues” gets worse: job worries, angst and anxiety over undone weekend projects, and financial responsibilities.

You’re not alone. Most people get gloomy on Sunday evening. Research shows that most people are saddest on Sunday and happiest on Friday. But do we need an expensive study to tell us that?!

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Re-Inventing Yourself After Divorce: 5 Tips To Dump A Bad Habit For A Good Habit In 20 Days!

I’ll admit it: After my divorce, I checked my former spouse’s Facebook page every morning.

It was downright self-destructive to my recovery. The self-pity party it wrought for the entire day didn’t help. Why did I do it? Because prior to the divorce, my then-husband and I wrote messages to each other on Facebook every morning.

It was a habit that needed to stop. Now.

We all have annoying old habits that hold us back. Some need to stop because we’re starting over after colossal change, like divorce. Some should end simply because they’ve outlived their usefulness.

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Divorce Blues? The 6-Stop Gratitude Positioning System

After my divorce, it seemed like every one of my loyal supporters told me to adopt an “attitude of gratitude.”

I understood the concept and appreciated their help, but I just wasn’t feelin’ it.
Nonetheless, in spite of big doubts, I wrote my “gratitude list” every morning.

For a while, it worked. I got out of bed when a dive under my pillow was really what I wanted.

Then boredom hit. The usual five suspects were appearing every day on my list: my daughters, good health, a trusted therapist, supportive friends, and a roof over my head. I was thankful for all of them, but it appreciating them over and over was getting old.

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As Seen On Huffington Post: 7 Ways To Use Fear To Your Advantage

A hard bright light dawned on moving day. Dozens of brown, cardboard boxes filled with my belongings were stacked everywhere in my otherwise empty house. My entire history was packed up, ready to be hauled off to San Francisco where I would reinvent myself. My 33-year marriage was over. I was single again.

And I was terrified. Even though I’m a strong woman, a leader, a person who normally doesn’t break down, I cried tears of desolation. With red, swollen eyes, I looked at my friend and whispered, “Oh, Michael, I’m so scared.”

He grabbed my shoulders, placed me squarely in front of him and said, “Look at me, Kat. If you’re not scared, you’re not doing it right.”

He was right, of course. Not only is it OK to be terrified, it’s necessary. It was a lesson that helped change my life.

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Starting Over After 50: Getting into bed with the dating game

You’re alone again… starting over.  You’ve taken that big step forward… you’ve decided to date. here you come!  You feel vulnerable, slightly insecure, and a tad off balance.  Welcome to the world of dating after midlife: it’s a weird combo of fun, surprise, great laughs – and downright intimidating at the same time.

I’ll bet you can identify with this: the first 3 dates with Bernie went really well.  A lot in common, mixed with giggling, profound discussions, hand holding, and a few little quick kisses.  This is the fourth date and he’s delivered you to your doorstep.

You’ve got a lifetime of wisdom and savoir-faire, and yet, here you are standing on your own front doorstep, seeing yourself like an awkward teenager in a movie scene.  Do I invite him in?  He’s intriguing.  Should I?  Shouldn’t I?  Believe me, he’s asking himself the same questions!

In any case, the question is: is intimacy with this man in the cards for you tonight?  The answer is different for every woman (and man) depending on your personal comfort level with this person and your background.  Rule #1 has not changed in the 40 years since you were a teen: Say no if you don’t want to!  It’s ok, and it honors your self-respect.   Wait until you both are ready.

On the other hand, if you feel a little tingly, and it sounds like an intimate romp might be fun, go for it!  From my years as a human sexuality educator, let me tell you: sex can be just as enjoyable and, in many cases, even more fulfilling than when you are younger.

Some crucial rules have changed, however, and you need to be aware of them so that the passion payoff for you is pleasure, not pain.  Here are the issues you really need to know about – and other dating sites don’t address.  Going in with eyes wide open will make for a sexier, more fulfilling, and safer evening for both of you.

How to Get Ready for Bed

Here are the top 8 non-negotiable tips for a safe and sexy evening.

Be flexible and keep your sense of humor:

  1. Your intimate routine and his won’t match at all, at first, I guarantee. You’ll fumble around comically. Expect it. Like you, he’s doing the best he can with what he’s learned. Expect surprises and create your own new intimate dance. Be patient.
  2. Remember, he has no idea what your preferences are. Communication is key. After your initial intimate interludes, open the conversation. Tell him what you liked and what you would rather sidestep. Ask him what he liked and what changes he’d like you to make.
  3. Keep your sense of humor: Bonnie, 69, had checked her make-up and decided she looked younger without her glasses, so off they came. Tonight would be their third date, and first real intimacy. Where’s the lube? She grabbed the sample in the foil packet, then went off to Glen’s. Hours later, sheets move, hands wander, mouths connect, breath comes fast. Bonnie grabs the lube, rips open the packet, and lowers it under the sheets. Suddenly Glen stops. What’s that smell? Nail polish remover! Oops. Wrong foil product! Bonnie’s note to self: Keep glasses on when locating lube! By the way, Bonnie and Glen are still together – and still chortling over the foil packet episode.

On the serious side…

  1. Carry condoms with you. Our generation tends to rebel against using condoms, mostly because of being in long-term relationships and skipping over the AIDS epidemic. Today, the threat of getting infected is alive and well. The 55+ population has one of the fastest growing HIV diagnosis rates.
  2. Learn to ask if your new sex partner is clean, meaning clear of any STIs (sexually transmitted infections). Most women shy away from asking. It’s tough to do, but it can literally save your life. Here’s the question to ask: “Are you clean from STIs?” or “Do you have any STI’s?” It takes 2 seconds to ask. A STI lasts a lifetime – and you have to tell every man you ever have intimacy with, about it. I vote for the 2 second investment of asking. If you don’t know him well enough to ask, it’s not time for intimacy, yet. He’s most likely free and healthy. Nonetheless, please ask.
  3. Carry lubricant. Women’s natural lubrication lessens after menopause. Use lots of lube. It makes all kinds of intimacy  possible—and pleasurable. No lube? Use saliva. Yes, it’s ok.
  4. Understand about men at our age. They’re worried about performance. Be considerate and patient. Things happen more slowly for them, too. (Men—ladies are worried about body changes. Things have shifted in the last 30 years. Be complimentary.)
  5. Think pleasure, not performance. Let go of the orgasm- mania you felt in your 20s and 30s. You can be just as happy (and so can he) without an orgasm. Yes, you can.

Intimacy after midlife is a wonderful relief after the pressures to perform of youth. Take your time, don’t take yourself too seriously, and enjoy your evening under the sheets. Don’t take health risks, however. Conjure up the courage to ask what you need to know. For more information about sexuality and intimacy after midlife, take a look at my book Sexperienced: Guide for the Seasoned Woman Seeking New Possibilities. Funny, poignant, and practical. Men love it, too!

Please join our conversation about this article, add your comments below.


3 Non-Negotiable Steps to Starting Over at 50, 60, 70, 80

One of my favorite expressions is: Yougottawannawanna. When life throws you a curve ball, you’re tempted to shout “foul” – but the truth is that the curve ball is as much a part of the game as the perfect center pitch. Your best bet is to step up to the plate, take a deep breath, and shout out loud, “Play ball! I’m in it to win it. Let’s go!” You’ve got to want to play and win. It sure isn’t easy after midlife, particularly when your self-esteem muscles are out of shape, and you’re starting over once again.

Starting over? Starting again? This is nothing new.

You’ve spent your life learning to start over. As women, we were thrust into a world where we had to learn to maneuver. Our little girl roles weren’t as well defined as our little brothers. We had to learn how to communicate our needs without being a “cry baby.” We had to figure out how to interact socially and walk the line between flirting and aggressiveness. If we “developed” earlier than other girls, we were “fast” – as opposed to our brothers who were “big for their age.” The result: we were on our own to figure out where we fit. As teens, we tested our roles. In our 20’s we began to perfect our natural talents. New jobs, new partners, new responsibilities led us to the “arrogant 30’s.” Many of us felt as if we had a whole myriad of strengths – we were invincible in our 30’s.

As the years went by, we were slammed with a tsunami of change. Some of us settled into a comfortable life and were able to dodge the tough stuff. Others had head-on challenges that called her inner strength to task. In any case, whatever your former situation, now is the moment to revisit the determination and focus of your childhood, the assertiveness and confidence of your 30’s, and the wisdom that life has handed you – giving you more power and definition than you realize. The power within you needs to resurface.

Step One: As a little girl, you communicated in no uncertain terms. Do it again, now!

Communicate Your Needs – to yourself and to others. Another favorite phrase of mine: “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” No one will do it for you. Say what you need. You might get it, you might not. The point is not to get what you want, but to be heard and get that knot out of your stomach that comes from holding back. There’s a whole support system that wants to help you grow, but you have to ask.


Step Two: Find new friends creatively. Here’s how:

A few years ago, meeting new people was easier – jobs, hobbies, children – all provided easy inroads to new friends. Accepting the reality of your new life means understanding it’s more difficult to meet new friends, now. Don’t listen to the internet naysayers. While you have to be careful (lots of crazies out there), I know many women who have met the love of her life on (or any of the other sites). Check out and type in an activity you love and your age. Dust off your computer and hunt around.However, most people still meet new friends through existing friends. Make a list of your closest friends – both men and women. Call them and ask to “hang out.” Don’t wait for them to call you. They love you, but you aren’t top of mind with them. Call them! Don’t get discouraged – people react slowly. Keep at it! If your friends know you’re looking for evenings out with new friends, they’ll rise to the occasion. You have to speak up, first.

Step 3: Feel the fear. So what?

I remember after my divorce, I felt like a deer in the headlights. Scared, discombobulated, and terrified to move. Of course you feel lost after a giant life change! Who wouldn’t – especially when the old familiar roles from the last 25 years are evaporating before your eyes. Your next step into the unknown is darn scary.

Another favorite phrase of mine, given to me after my divorce: “If you’re not scared, you’re not doing it right!” You’re going to feel fear. Fear is a sign that you need to take action. Think in positive terms – You’re not getting older, you’re getting started! What you tell yourself is critical. If you step back and look fear in the face, it can actually help you.

Let fear guide you back to yourself. Identify your fear. Tell yourself it’s normal and necessary. Then ask yourself, “What can I do to distract me from this fear?” Go do that! Take a hike? Go to a movie? Cook a fabulous recipe? Listen to mind blowing music? Go ride your bike? Go to your “arsenal list” of friends to call when you need to reach out?

Always know that the fear will pass. It always does. It’s up to you to change the energy with something you love, and allow the fear to pass.

By the way, if the fear becomes incapacitating, anti-depressants may help you. See a psychiatrist who understands the subtleties of the medications. If you take natural remedies, do it on recommendation of a professional who understands the herbs.

Divorce, death of a spouse, retirement or an empty house does not mean the end of your purpose in life. It’s really a chance to live again, on your own terms. Use this opportunity to invest in yourself and your new adventures in life, one step at a time.

How to Rebuild your Life After Divorce

Going through divorce is one of the most difficult challenges a woman can face at midlife and beyond — comparable in grief to the death of a loved one. But divorce has its own particularly haunting sting. Divorce often fosters additional feelings of hurt, loss of self esteem, fear, betrayal and resentment.

Though these feelings are normal – and an important part of the grieving process, if you hang on to them for too long, they’re guaranteed to stop you from finding your happiness, and put a plug in your ability to love life. You become defined by your divorce rather than the fresh start you long for.

If you really want to experience a new life after divorce, it’s vital that you finish the grieving process and move on. Easy? Hardly. Necessary? Absolutely.

Today, rearrange your mindset and start telling yourself, “I can do this. Yes, I can!”

Build your support system: Humans are not intended to go through life alone.

After divorce, it’s critical that you have loving friends to fall back on. If your support system is too small, enlarge it. Start with your closest friends. What clubs, sports, or associations are they in? Can you tag along? It’s easier to start when you walk in with a buddy. Check out book clubs at the library. Go back to your spiritual/religious roots – attend weekday activities when people tend to interact more, rather than expecting camaraderie at the formal service. For some, divorce recovery groups are helpful – check online for a group near you. The bottom line: it’s up to you to insure that you aren’t alone during the healing process.

Find your purpose: Make a new road map for your life.

When I work with clients  who are starting over after divorce, I see women fragmented and questioning their self worth. If the “X” left them for another woman, the loss of self esteem can be devastating. One tip: write one page in a journal every morning. Scribble notes about a new goal or dream. Then, take one very small step towards your dream  that very day. You’d like a new car? Go online for 10 minutes reading about it or be bold and visit a car dealership. No need to buy. Just look! Avoid the vicious cycle of work-eat-sleep-repeat by moving yourself forward with one small positive action every day, no exceptions. Write it in your morning journal, then do it! At night, jot a brief note about your experience. Keep it small and easy to do.

Enjoy your freedom to be by yourself: Reframe your newfound oneness.

You’re free to live the life you choose! Embrace it. Start enjoying yourself! Your own company can be lovely. Take yourself on dates. Take up dance. Find an intriguing destination and go solo – whether it’s 10 miles away or halfway around the globe. You don’t need permission, so whatever it is that you have always to do, step out solo and go do it.

Stay positive: Pity parties come early and often to divorcees.

To avoid them: remember that your brain believes everything you tell it. It’s all about shouting down the gremlins and taking control of your own thinking. When the sadness sets in, be ready to pull yourself out. Keep a running list of literal phrases to say to yourself (“I’m safe and I can do this!”, etc.). Know the music that lifts your spirits and put it on. Put the old pictures away. Know that there is an amazing new life beckoning you. Don’t miss out. Be prepared. Kick out the demons of doubt. You are a beautiful, zesty, talented, confident woman. Don’t let those nasty self-defeating thoughts hold you back.

Make yourself a pact: divorce will not hold you back! A new start, a new life awaits.  Press the refresh button in your journey toward greatness. There’s a world out there waiting for you, but you have to get out of bed, first, and take that first step. You’re not getting older, you’re getting started!