Before Dating, single Moms Should Embrace a Spiritual Outlook

An interview with Dr. Ellie Zarrabian, Founder of Centerpeace Foundation


Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I am a Transpersonal psychologist and a shamanic healer. I also have an extensive background in body work and mindfulness meditation.  Currently, I teach psychology at Santa Monica College and have a private practice in Westwood, CA. In my private practice I mainly work with women who want to explore their spirituality as a way to heal or deepen their relationships or find a career that is more in alignment with their spiritual ideals and values.

In my own life, since I was very young I had many experiences that would be considered spiritual in nature. These experiences saved my life by helping me over come abuse, war, and immigration into two different countries.  These experiences have shaped who I am today and the work I do as a healer, teacher, writer and body worker.

Embracing a more spiritual outlook on life can also help individuals live their life more fully and authentically. It also gives them the inner power and passion to live their life according to their spiritual ideals while letting go of limiting thoughts, beliefs, behaviors (and sometimes even people).

In many spiritual traditions of the world there is a belief that essentially holds, “as above, so below; as within, so without.” Basically the belief is that our external reality is a reflection of what is happening inside of us. If we do not like what we see on the outside, then we need to take a look at what is happing on the inside. For example, when we look at divorce from a spiritual perspective, we can see our ex partner as a teacher who came into our life to reflect for us what we have needed to look at within our self. If we embrace this perspective then instead of focusing our energy on the shortcomings of our ex partner and all that went wrong in the marriage, we can focus that same energy towards healing the self. We shift our focus by turning our attention inward and asking the following question: “What aspect of myself was I divorcing in my relationship?” or “What qualities or characteristics did my partner mirror or reflect in me that I did not want to look at or deal with in myself?” When you ask this question, you can see that there is a great deal of work that needs to be done.

Of course blame is easy and often helps people feel justified for the divorce. But taking a look at our own actions, judgments and limiting thoughts that contributed to the divorce is not as easy. My point here is not to say that divorce is wrong or unwarranted. In fact in many situations divorce is exactly what is needed to happen. However, the trap that we want to avoid is finding another person with similar characteristic as our ex partner but in a different body. Avoiding this trap means having to take a good look at one self or take ‘self-inventory.”

Taking self-inventory gives you the chance to understand what initially drew you to a person like your ex partner. You will understand your own triggers, past wounding and limiting thoughts and behaviors that adversely affected your relationship.  Once you have an understanding and awareness of these inner workings then you have the power to change them. When you change yourself, then the people you draw to yourself or find an attraction towards will be different.

So to become truly free from the entanglements of past relationships, we need to take time out to look within and take an honest inventory, and heal the missing pieces.

How long after a divorce or a loss of her husband is it a good time for a single mom to start dating?

If you take a more spiritual approach to finding your true partner, then learning how to trust your intuition is an important part of the process. Once you learn to trust your intuition, it will guide you and tell you when it is the right time to stay put and when it is time to go out into the world and start dating.

For some women, they need to take a long break after a loss in order to re evaluate their life, their past history, and to heal old wounds. For other women who may have been doing their own inner work while still married, dating soon after a divorce may feel very natural. So, it is different for every person. You have to assess where you are at internally and trust your intuition to lead you. What you don’t want to do is to jump from a marriage that didn’t work and you didn’t do much healing from to another relationship. That is usually a recipe for disaster.

What are some challenges that single mom's face in the dating world?

Again, it depends on many variables. If you are older (40s and above), it could be difficult to get into the mindset of being single and dating again. If you have young children, it may be difficult to go out and date different partners. If you work full time and have children, it may be difficult to find the time and energy to go out and meet new people. It can also depend on what ethnic and religious background you may be from. In some cultures and religions, it is still quite a taboo to be a divorced woman, so fighting that stigma could be very challenging. 

But all these barriers are limitations that are placed on us from the outside. If we believe them, then we live them. But if we choose to look at who we are from a more expansive point of view, then we can embrace the knowingness that our soul has no limitations or that our heart has no boundary for the capacity to love and our mind has no end for the capacity to learn and experience life. Once we tap into and embrace this limitless nature of our being, and not the limited person our culture, religion, age or life circumstances dictate, then doors will open up in ways that presently we cannot even begin to imagine.  

Part of the work I do with my clients, is to confront these limiting thought forms that are usually culture bound to embracing a  more whole, and powerful vision of the self and then opening up to the greater good of the universe and its endless possibilities that await us. It’s a much livelier and more exciting place to hang out.   

What are some tips you can give for a single mom who wants to enter the dating scene?

  1. Before entering the dating scene, take time for self-inventory.
  2. Create a list of all the negative and positive qualities you disliked and liked about your ex partner and see how those qualities are reflected in you.
  3. With the help of a trusted professional learn to release the limiting thoughts, images and behavior patterns in yourself so that you may embrace a more whole, loving and powerful vision of yourself.  Remember that on a spiritual/ emotional plane, “like attracts like” so focus on becoming the person you want to attract.
  4. Then create a “wish” and a “need” list. Write down 10 qualities that you wish to find in your new partner. The top 3 qualities on your list will be values that you “need” in yoru partner. These three needs are qualities that cannot be compromised or negotiated in your ideal mate, while the rest can be. For example, number one need on your list may be “has to be a non smoker” while your 8th wish is “to be interested in nature walks.” You will not compromise on him/ her not being a non smoker but you can compromise if he/she is not that fond of nature. If your “needs” are not met in the person you date, then move on right away. Don’t waste your time trying to compromise on values that are needs for you.
  5. I suggest signing up for online dating services with sites that are targeted towards your interests. I find that writing your own profile and the profile of your ideal mate is a direct way to communicate to the universe about what you want and what you are open to receiving.
  6. Release your intention into the universe (or cyberspace) and let it go. Don’t dwell on it.
  7. Remain open to receiving abundance of love from the universe.  

When should a single mom inform her date that she has children?

Walking a spiritual path requires complete integrity and honesty. If your children are an important part of your life, then they need to be spiritually present with you as you begin dating.  So disclose this information either in your profile or soon after you start talking or meeting. Think again of what you would like in an ideal partner; do you want a person who would embrace and love your children as his/her own, or one that doesn’t want to have anything to do with them? If you want the former, then put out that energy. If the person is not interested, then right away you have your answer…you can move on to better and bigger love.

I like to end with a beautiful quote by Rumi, the 13th century Persian mystic who basically summarizes this interview in one sentence. He writes: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”