Mourn first. You gotta face your feelings head-on. It’s easy to take girls trips, go on drinking binges, or even jump into a new relationship. But these distractions are just delaying your healing process.
As part of our series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Survive And Thrive After A Divorce Or Breakup” I had the pleasure of interviewing (Yue Xu and Julie Krafchick from the Dateable Podcast).
Recently featured on CNN and KQED, Dateable is one of the top podcasts about dating, love, and sex. More importantly, the show dives into the ‘why’ of people’s behavior. They’ve interviewed thousands of daters and world-renowned love experts and have discussed everything from sex parties to sex droughts, date fails to diaper fetishes, and first moves to first loves. Through the podcast, they answer the big questions like ‘Is monogamy dead?’ ‘How will dating change from COVID-19’ and ‘Do Millennials even want to find love?’ By hearing others’ stories and perspectives, Dateable empowers listeners to throw out the rules and challenge the way they date in a world that continues to change every day.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to ‘get to know you’. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
Yue: I was born in Beijing and moved to Michigan with my family when I was 8. This move really set the tone for how I would see life and adapt to change. My dad was pursuing his Ph.D. at Michigan State University while my mom, a former college professor and published writer in China, took any job she could find. She worked as a waitress, housekeeper, babysitter, assembly line worker. And believe it or not, she would eventually get her Masters in Computer Science and land a job at a major tech company. Watching my parents fight for the American dream through grit and resilience inspired me to not only embrace change, but to look for change.
Julie: I’m originally from Massachusetts in a suburb outside of Boston. I was raised Jewish, bat mitzvah and all. Even as someone more reformed, the culture of Judaism was a very big part of my upbringing as my town was about 70% Jewish. My social life consisted of Jewish youth groups, going to camp in the summer, and even doing a cross-country trip where we prayed 3x a day including a time when tourists took photos of us praying at the Grand Canyon. Being relatively sheltered made me more socially conservative in what I wanted in life and what I thought could happen. Over the years especially after moving to San Francisco, my world views have expanded dramatically. My upbringing gave me an appreciation for tradition but also inspired me to question the norm, value diversity, and expand my way of thinking.
Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Despite being a dating coach, Yue was utterly confused by the dating scene when she moved to San Francisco in her mid-30’s. She’d been hanging with one of her friends in the city, a matchmaker she knew from SoCal, who invited her along to an event which happened to be from Julie’s platform, 500 Brunches, that facilitated IRL connections through brunch. Julie & Yue become fast friends as Yue was single in a new city and Julie was getting out of an on-again-off-again serious relationship. They’d talk for hours about everything from why guys send d*ck pics to what love truly means. They shared a similar sense of humor, curiosity for the word, and creative energy that allowed them to bounce ideas off of one another. With Yue’s background as a dating coach and Julie’s as a technologist / researcher, they had many thoughts and questions about the current dating landscape. So one night over drinks, we decided we should try this whole podcast thing by documenting what was really happening in modern dating…and also find solace in other people’s stories.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Yue went on a couple blind dates in earlier seasons when she was single and Julie recently did an episode with a guy where she was his first date in 12 years. Through these experiments, we have learned so much about how people interpret dates and actions differently. Yue was called out for her “daterview” persona where she would “perform” on dates instead of just being herself. Julie saw first-hand that perception is not always reality. The guy she went on a date with had her order her own drink at the bar. Her perception was that he was treating her more as a friend than a date. The reality was, he wanted her to feel safe that she could see her drink being made and not passed through his hands!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
We used to offer our guests some sort of alcohol during recordings. It seemed like a good idea until several of our earlier guests drank a little too much. Words were being slurred and drinks were being spilled. Needless to say, we no longer offer alcoholic beverages of any kind to our guests until AFTER the recording.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
We love the quote “we’re all each other’s consequences.” After 10 seasons of our podcast, it is so clear to see how we’re all intertwined. Your actions truly affect another person, and that person’s actions then trigger another person’s emotions. It’s a domino effect that we need to be aware of. Many of the stories we’ve heard are about the baggage that people carry from previous relationships, childhood interactions, or media portrayals. If you can think about the compounding effect of your actions, it will help you take a pause before you act or speak.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We’ve just launched Season 11! Most of our Season 10 helped people navigate dating during Covid. However, Season 11 focuses on forward-thinking. While we have to embrace the “new normal” we’re in, we can get ahead of it and find ways to make it work in our favor. Season 11 is about perseverance and we know it’ll empower daters to take control of their love lives! We also recently updated our website and youtube channel, and our private FB group called Love in the Time of Corona has grown exponentially after being featured on CNN.com.
Ok. Thank you for that. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell us a bit about your experience going through a divorce, or helping someone who was going through a divorce? What did you learn about yourself during and after the experience? Do you feel comfortable sharing a story?
We’ve had several divorced guests on our show but one in particular stands out. On Season 10, Episode 2, we interviewed Yue’s friend Tommy Danger Kim (yes, that’s his real name!). The episode is called “Moving on After Divorce.” Tommy’s wife brought up divorce 2 months after they got married. They spent their honeymoon platonically. And 4 years later, Tommy is still navigating the repercussions of that traumatic experience. We learned about the heaviness of divorce that people don’t tend to talk about. Often, people highlight the fighting, bitterness, and pettiness of divorve. However, we forget that at some point these two people were so in love, they thought they wanted to spend a lifetime together. We forget couples spend the most time together, more than their own relatives. So a divorce is a death. Tommy was still in mourning and did not realize it.
In your opinion, what are the most common mistakes people make after they go through a divorce? What can be done to avoid that?
The biggest mistake people make is that they don’t properly mourn. They want to skip that process and move on. However, as seen in Tommy’s case, if you don’t properly mourn, you’re stuck in purgatory even years later. The full mourning process comes with sadness, grief, and loneliness. It’s understandable why people don’t want to go through it. However, jumping on distractions just so you don’t FEEL these feelings can be more detrimental down the line. As wild as it sounds, treat divorce like a death in the family. Honor this person, honor your relationship, honor your own feelings. Take your time for self-care, whether that’s therapy or a support group. Learn what it is that you need. Do you need space? Or do you need a shoulder to cry on? Instead of putting on a front that you’re strong and you’re getting through it, show your vulnerability. Be honest with the people in your life about how you feel. And most importantly, be honest with yourself.
People generally label “divorce” as being “negative”. And yes, while there are downsides, there can also be a lot of positive that comes out of it as well. What would you say that they are? Can you share an example or share a story?
Again, in Tommy’s case, his divorce lit a fire under him to find purpose in life. He started his own podcast (The Tommy Danger Experiment) as an outlet for his feelings. He took some risks with his career. And he opened himself up more. We’ve seen with many divorcees, there’s an urge to redefine themselves. That redefinition process is very exciting because the world is your oyster, who do you want to be?
Some people are scared to ‘get back out there’ and date again after being with their former spouse for many years and hearing dating horror stories. What would you say to motivate someone to get back out there and start a new beginning?
Let’s just start by saying it is scary to get back out there anytime, whether it’s after a divorce or after a 2 month relationship. From the guests we’ve interviewed, what has really worked is to make dating a part of your personal development journey. It’s very similar to if you had a wellness plan, working out is a part of that plan. Dating is like working out. And when you treat it as part of a bigger picture, you can start to see what serves you and what doesn’t. Maybe connecting with new people invigorates you…awesome, that serves you! But maybe dealing with flaky people drains your energy. That does not serve you and now you can filter for those people. When you can parse out the dating experience, it is much more manageable and exciting.
What is the one thing people going through a divorce should be open to changing?
Your views on marriage. It is very understandable that people fresh out of divorce have a bitter stance on marriage. We often hear many divorcees saying they don’t want to get married again. However, you have to be aware of the fact that your failed marriage is not representative of all marriages. In fact, the lessons you learn from your failed marriage can make your next relationship that much better. So if you’re on a date you’re asked, “would you ever get married again?” Instead of saying a strong yes or no, try saying “I’m open to it.”
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. If you had a close friend come to you for advice after a divorce, what are 5 things you would advise in order to survive and thrive after the divorce? Can you please give a story or example for each?
- Mourn first. You gotta face your feelings head-on. It’s easy to take girls trips, go on drinking binges, or even jump into a new relationship. But these distractions are just delaying your healing process. As what we saw with Tommy, he is now, 4 years later, just going through that process.
- Honor the end of your relationship. If we have ceremonies of matrimony, why can’t we have ceremonies of dissolution? Set some time aside to ceremoniously end your marriage, your way. That could be saging the space, locking away photos, or even writing out an end-of-marriage certificate. This is for you to close this chapter your way. We once had a guest who held a divorce ceremony for her marriage. She and her ex walked backwards down the aisle and parted ways at the end. This takes a little bit more planning and cooperation on your ex’s side, but you can symbolically do this as well!
- Seek therapy. We can’t say this enough. On our podcast, we love featuring “journey” stories, and the one consistent learning is people seek therapy. A therapist is different than your friends and family, who already come with bias. A therapist can objectively look at your situation and reflect back what he/she hears. This is essential to self-awareness and growth.
- Answer this: what is the one thing you can do now that you couldn’t do in your marriage? We’ve asked a few of our guests this and the answers vary. Some say travel because their partner didn’t like to plan trips. Some say they now have time to take up a new skill. We’ve also heard people say they can move to the city they’ve always longed for. Use this opportunity to do that ONE THING you’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t.
- Change up your space. It is so important to be in a new environment after a divorce. If you’re the one who moved out, that’s an easy one. But if your partner moved out, your space is a constant reminder of your time together. The best solution is to rearrange the furniture. Change up the decorations. Use aromatherapy. Make the space yours again. The stress of a divorce can take a toll on both one’s mental and emotional health. In your opinion or experience, what are a few things people going through a divorce can do to alleviate this pain and anguish? If you already love yoga or meditation, that’s an obvious choice. But if you’ve never tried, don’t force yourself. Some of our guests started listening to our podcast as a way to heal. This is not self-promotion, but we’ve had many people tell us that! But it is helpful to find a consistent experience, so you always have something to look forward to. So if it’s not our podcast, it could be a TV series (How I Met Your Mother is a popular choice), it could be a book club, weekly tennis lessons, a cooking challenge…anything that draws you back on a regular basis. This will establish stability and consistently, which is imperative for mental health.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources related to this topic that you would recommend to our readers?
Our podcast, definitely. Here are a few episodes we would recommend:
Season 10 Episode 20: I Date Me First
Seasons 10 Episode 12: Love is Not Enough w/ Mark Manson
Seasons 10, Episode 2: Moving on After Divorce
Seasons 9, Episode 6: Deeper Dating w/ Ken Page
Season 8, Episode 19: Quest for Love with Ryan Van Duzer
Season 7, Episode 17: Mental Health & Dating
Season 6, Episode 15: Meeting Your Half Orange w/ Amy Spencer
We also love the Love is like a Plant podcast, which is all about navigating heartbreak.
And we recommend these fabulous books:
Meeting your Half-Orange by Amy Spencer
Love is Not Enough by Mark Manson (audio book)
Loving bravely by Alexandra Solomon
All of which have been guests on our show!
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
We truly believe the idea that you have to go through the trenches to get to what you want. There are no shortcuts. We can’t hack our way through life. If you feel like you’re stuck in the trenches right now, know that every step you take brings you closer to where you want to be. You may be in the mud right now with no end in sight, but you will eventually look back and see it was just a patch of mud.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
We always say this and we will say it again. We would LOVE to have Iliza Shlesinger on our show! As a fellow elder millennial, we think she takes a very insightful (and comical) look at modern love and can help so many of our listeners navigate through these uncertain times!
Thank you for these great insights and for the time you spent with this interview. We wish you only continued success!
Photo Credit: Larry Wong