You can find lasting love after divorce-and the secret is simpler than you think.

Imagine you are out with your best girlfriends and tonight there are plenty of eligible men present. You are inconspicuously browsing the room, but disappointed to realize that there are no men here who seem to be what you are looking for. It may seem hopeless in the moment.  But you can find lasting love after divorce, you just need this one simple secret.

Subconsciously, you are referring to the “dream” list you have compiled concerning the traits your ideal mate should possess—what you want in a man. While it is good to be aware of what you are looking for, perhaps the list you should be referring to is the one that illustrates the type of man you need. In other words, what you think you want is not always what you need.

Ladies, our ‘pickers’ are often broken, and it’s not our fault.  Biology, parental attachment, and media messaging have a big impact. Even after divorce very often we continue to search for the wrong qualities in our future partners. We have been conditioned to look for the tall, handsome, smart, financially sound, and confident man who will make our families happy and friends swoon.  Here is what I have found: instead of focusing only on charming, tall and high IQ men, start looking for “High GHQ” men, men who are high in Good Husband Qualities. It works. I figured out the GHQ thing in my early 20s, after I had dated one too many charming, high voltage, heartbreaker types – and really thought about what I needed to be happy. I made a two columned list, which I credit for helping me figure out what I needed versus what I just wanted.

Whether this is their first rodeo or if they’re coming off a divorce, I do this today with all of my clients. In the first meeting, we start off with some fun dreaming (and sometimes a little bit of wine!). I take out a sheet of paper divided into two columns. I say, “Jenny, describe in detail your dream man—no holds barred. Everything.” She looks at me incredulously, thinking, “Oh, this is awesome!” Then she smiles, sits back, takes a sip and fires off a list so quickly that my pen can barely keep up. I write “Dream Guy List” in the left column:

Jenny’s Dream Guy

  • Tall

  • Intelligent

  • Spontaneous

  • Blonde

  • Financially secure

  • Funny

  • Classy

For the next column, we switch gears completely. I tell Jenny to think about the people in her life who make her the happiest. These are our “elevator” people – because they lift us up and elevator us (and keep us grounded and safe like an ‘elevator.” She sits back, deliberates for a few minutes, and says, “I have five elevator people: my dad, Diana, Sophie, Matthew, and Bennett.”

On the right side of the list, I begin jotting down why they make her so happy – and come up with the following themes:

Jenny’s Elevator People List (and why they make her so happy):

  • Support my dreams no matter what

  • Always honest with me, good or bad

  • Always see the good in me, and get me

  • Keep me humble

  • Encourage me

I tell Jenny that my goal is to help her to start dating (and ultimately settle down with) a man with one purpose; a man that makes her HAPPY.  To illustrate my point, I write word “WANTS” over the dream guy column, and “NEEDS” over the ‘happy people’ side. And watch Jenny’s expression change to one of surprise and tears. “Oh, this makes sense. I need to look for deeper traits in a man—supportive instead of funny and honest instead of spontaneous.” She wasn’t looking for love in all the wrong places—she was looking at the left column versus the right.

It’s happened to all of us at some point. We bounce from guy to guy or disregard others completely, chasing more and more of those wants without considering what really makes us happy. It’s usually not his spontaneity, looks, or job that does it. We chase the left side, and are left lacking every time—with a heart that needs mending.

As our sessions progressed, we formalize Jenny’s “High GHQ” list—in writing, typed, single spaced! She found her exceptionally high GHQ man and is getting married in November! By chasing the right side, she got everything she needed. Like most happily married people will tell you, our partners came in a different package than we expected—but we couldn’t be happier.


bela drink black and white
​Bela Gandhi is a dating/relationship expert, founder of Smart Dating Academy and a weekly media correspondent. She is a relationship expert and has been featured on most national/local media outlets.

After she graduated (with dual degrees in Finance and German from the University of Illinois in Urbana/Champaign), Gandhi worked in mergers and acquisitions for Arthur Andersen in Chicago for a year before joining her family’s chemical and manufacturing company (CCC) as the, where she divided her time between Chicago and Europe helping to expand the business. When the Gandhi family sold its business to Akzo Nobel, she was asked to remain its leader, and became Akzo Nobel Non-Stick Coating’s Global Vice President of Housewares. But even as she quickly climbed the corporate ladder, Gandhi had a feeling that her career would one day be taking a sharp turn in a different direction – because she discovered her love of matchmaking and providing dating advice.  She launched her Smart Dating Academy in 2009.

Smart Dating Academy has quickly become one of the nation’s top date coaching firms – and teaches busy, successful professionals to jump start their dating lives successfully.  Smart Dating Academy is described by its clients “like going to Harvard Business School, but for dating and relationships”.  SDA’s coaches become personal trainers for their clients’ love lives.  The SDA coaching program is results-oriented and fun – which helps you to clarify who is right for you, stop old dating patterns, and use technology the RIGHT way. You become positive and enthusiastic about dating / relationships again! Its clients receive personalized dating plans, and essential training in how to meet high caliber singles, personal style, conversation, and online success.

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P.S. Want more tools and resources to stay positive during a divorce? Download my Free Divorce Survive & Thrive Kit below!


The Radically Positive Way to Separate
Gabrielle Hartley with Elena Brower
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DISCLAIMER: The commentary, advice, and opinions from Gabrielle Hartley are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice or mental health services. You should contact an attorney and/or mental health professional in your state to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.


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