Police Psychology | Divorce Part 4: Starting a New Life

by Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D.  ABPP


So, it’s done!  The lawyers are gone, the courts are played out, the property and kids are separated and one of you is living in the house or it has been sold.  You are situated in a comfortable but “not exactly home” place of your own without a spouse living with you.  What do you do now?

The last time you dated you were really young, in fact in your twenties, if not your teens.  There has been a lot of life since then.  Internet dating has taken off, but we all have heard the horror stories of that.  There is no college bar anymore, at least for middle age people.  Perhaps you already have a girl or guy lined up, maybe even dated them while you were still with your ex.  What problems happen now?  Could this ever work?  The good news is you are free again to remake your life.  The bad news is this is the time people make huge mistakes.  We are all going to deal with this in ourselves, a colleague or a friend, so you might as well read below.

First place, don’t buy into the theory that someone has the answer for you.  “If you go and get hooked up again I am going to shoot you on the spot?”  “You don’t need anyone else in your life, you need a break from men.”  “You should wait three years before you date.”  “Maybe you should play for the other side for a while.”  I have heard well-meaning friends say everything to a guy or girl getting divorced.  Turn the hearing aids off, turn the noise way off.  Advice is easy to give and hard to live with if you take it.  You are in pain, and you will be in pain for a while.  If in the divorce, you are the one left or you are not the one to make the divorce decision, your spouse is emotionally way ahead of you.  Don’t try to catch up quickly.  The advice about when to start dating can’t be determined for each person with an overall phrase.  But you do have to make some sense of it. 

You should start dating after you have other parts of your life re-established.  Meaning, don’t be looking until you have a lived a few months on the new amount of money you are getting, you have established healthy relationships with your kids, and you and everyone important to you has adjusted to you being a single man or woman again.  You must know who you are now before you start letting someone else in.  You must avoid emotional pinballing.  Before that, you are asking for trouble.  Get yourself stabilized.  If you are living in a refrigerator box, don’t bring  person home until you can afford an apartment (or perhaps a refrigerator box in a better neighborhood).  What about using people for sex in the meantime?  Use the sexual energy to motivate you to getting yourself setup.  Emotions get involved when you start cheating on these principles, so don’t cheat.  Okay reality, sometimes it is just too tempting, but really moderate the attachment.

Remember, if you stopped dating when you were sixteen, you will have the same confused 16-year old mentality when you pick it up again.  If you stopped dating when you were twenty-five, you’re going to go back to 25.  Don’t expect progress in your psychology when you have been in the storage bin of marriage.  You will pick up quickly, but don’t expect to start somewhere else. 

Where the hell do you meet people when you are single again and haven’t been on a date in years?  We have all heard horror stories about online dating, finding a woman from a communist country, finding a man from work, etc.  And most of them are true.  But not all are horror stories.  You need to get rid of your urgency to hook up or else you won’t make good decisions.  This time is about expanding your social networks and finding other single people.   Go to parties, go to social events, fund raisers, clubs, just expand whatever it is you enjoy doing and meet a lot of people.  When you get someplace leave at least a quarter of the time to meet new people, not just hang with the people that you came with.  Just do it.  Meet waiters and waitresses, and people who are running the show and people who are shy.  Just be sure to get your name out there.  It’s not sales; it is not bravery; hell it can’t be worse than what you have been through getting a divorce.  People are mostly receptive to meet you. 

I make a logical rule with men and women alike.  If you date the first girl or guy you meet, you are limited to the one guy.  If you meet the first person’s friends, you have five, ten or maybe more people to choose to date.  Make lots of friends during the pre-dating time and meet their networks.

Now what are you looking for?   The old advice was “don’t fall for the first pretty face you see.”  I would expand that and say, don’t fall for any pretty face.  Find someone that likes to do things you like to do.  You are going into a different part of your life than before, so look at what it is you will do at your age.  If you are fifty, you want someone different than if you are twenty.  You might want someone more travel-oriented or more exploring that can expand your horizon.  Or someone to eventually be a homebody with.  If you’re thirty, then you might be looking for someone that will be a good partner to raise kids with.  You don’t go picking the party animal who is focused on their friends, and look to change him, even if he says he’s willing to change.  Look for their lifestyle and get a sense of what they like to do.  And finally, don’t ask them.  People present their ideal self when they are single.  So you may hear their ideal, but it is not what they are doing.  Don’t ask, observe.

Now for the worst news.  The first thing you should look for is character.  And character is hard to determine.  The girl or guy that is criticizing waitresses or clerks is not who you want to be with unless you want your life to be criticizing a lot.  A guy or girl who is always looking at the positive might not be attractive to you, or it may be.  A guy or girl that doesn’t handle money well, or has a ton of credit card debt, may take a different kind of person to be connected to them.  Be sure you want to spend you life rescuing someone because that is what you will do.  Look at the subtler signs.  Don’t be impressed that they serve meals to the poor if everything else is not in place.  Remember, the bad patterns get emphasized in relationships, so be wary.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt if they have a pretty face, a rockin’ hard body and you fit together really well behind closed doors, but that should be your strongest measure. 

I always say to people let four seasons pass before you look for results.  That goes for any type of stress.  There is no greater stress in the world than a divorce.  People don’t kill themselves over anything else as much as a divorce or relationship problem.  Death of a loved one, especially with a terminal illness, comes close, but as far as what it does to your life and after, divorce tops the mountain of psychological effects.  I would say give it four seasons until you are acclimated before you dive into the dating game.  You may be alright if you don’t, but I’d still give it four seasons.  If a year is too long, you will need a lot of luck because you won’t have enough information about yourself to date seriously.


Site Administrator:  Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D. ABPP

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Police Psychology | MS-13

by Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D.  ABPP

Last week four young men were murdered on Long Island, brutally murdered with machetes.  Rumors say their tongue were cut out and they were castrated.  It is obvious some sociopathic pleasure was derived from their mutilation.  Could it be an initiation for a gang, an attempt to leave a gang, or perhaps some kids who denied an invitation to join a gang?  It was a message killing.  You see, it was the MO of a few of gang killings in the last year when they hacked up a couple of teenage girls with machetes one town over, so they figured it was the same gang.  Long Island, home of the uppity Hamptons, the Gold Coast, the Great Gatsby and New York City’s billionaires.  And it is happening more than just on Long Island.

Yes, MS-13 is everywhere and lately in the news.  It is rumored that gang initiation means you must be beaten up by four or five gang members or you must brutally beat someone else, or kill them.  For girls, it means you must allow yourself to be gang raped by at least six members.  “Jumping in” is what undergoing the initiation is called, but some gang members are spared the dramatic beat downs.  All must have someone in the gang recommend them, unless they don’t.  The rules are just not clear from group to group.  Why would someone join such a gang? Read the rest of this entry »

Police Psychology | Opioids and Opiates

by Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D.  ABPP


I live on Long Island, NY.  Last year 493 people died on Long Island from opioid and opiate overdose with Fentanyl being the worse drug for deaths.  That’s more than were killed in car accidents in one of the most heavily trafficked areas of the country.  More than gang related deaths, more than murders in general (although one could argue that a person selling opioids to another is actually committing murder).  Yes, 493 people died last year and the trend so far this year suggests we may actually be ready to beat that number.   So, I called Geisinger-Marworth Treatment Center, an awesome facility in the woods of Pennsylvania, that I refer almost any police officers from anywhere.  I asked them what is the deal with the opioid problem on Long Island and do I have anything to worry about with the nation’s cops.  Some of what I found out is a little disturbing.

Let get the vocabulary right first.  “Opiate” is a word that covers naturally occurring derivatives from the opium plant like Heroin, Morphine and Codeine.  They are the original addictive drugs and really what it was all about when the guys came back from Vietnam addicted to Heroin and Opium.  Opioids are synthetic versions of the opiates like Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Dilaudid, Percocet, Vicodin, Percodan, and Fentanyl.  Both sets are addictive, but the synthetic drugs have become a bigger problem recently and it’s not just what is being sold on the streets.  Read the rest of this entry »

Police Psychology | Parkinson’s Law

by Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D.  ABPP


In 1955, a year before my birth, an English historian who had worked in civil service was written up in the magazine “The Economist” about a law of nature that would control my life, in fact, controls many of us.  He said “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”   “Data expands to fill the storage available” is a corollary to the initial observation and finally “if you spend 10 hours on a project you will be twice as far behind than if you only spend five hours on the project.”  I think these were meant to be humorous, but I am not exactly laughing about them.  In fact, it may have been true back then, but now it is more like work expands to fill any time in the day, including the time set aside for relaxation and comfort, and sometimes even dinner.   

Why does this happen?  Why does it seem we are always running out of time?  Why do deadlines appear even when they are not apparent at first?  Of course, there is the obvious, that people’s natural tendency to procrastinate work causes deadlines to appear that didn’t exist before.  People want to do non-work things more than work things.  Deadlines are unnatural and imposed on us usually from outside.  Everybody gets that.  But what are the other reasons that works expands to fill the time allotted or usually more than the time allotted?  How is it that we always seem to underestimate the time needed to complete a project? Read the rest of this entry »

Police Psychology:  Divorce Part 3

by Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D.  ABPP


“At first I was afraid, I was petrified.  Kept thinking I could never live without you by my side.”

So starts the 70’s anthem song about the breakup.  Gloria Gaynor in 1978 found silver, gold and platinum, and became the singer of the only song to ever win a Grammy in the Best Disco Song of the Year category (it was only given one year before disco died in the charts).  It spoke to every woman “thinking how he did me wrong” and she “grew strong” and learned she had to survive.  It was excitement, passion, and most of all, something a large part of the record buying population could relate to.  And it was for men too.  Not too shabby for the “B” side of a small record by a Newark “New Joisy” girl.

Why did so many people relate to it?  It was a theme of recovery from a bad breakup and the mantra “I Will Survive” rang out for anyone who has had the experience of the severe wrenching pain when love turns into despair.  Survival is the most important thing through divorce.  Survival through terrible emotional ups and downs, through some severe depression, through grief.  What happens when you don’t survive?  You become bitter towards others.  You check out at work or overemphasize the role of work in your life, and you may not be ready for another relationship in your whole life.  Most suicides, especially in police populations, are stimulated by relationship breakups or relationship problems.  So, surviving a divorce is very important, in fact it is paramount to your future as a healthy individual.  How do you survive and how do you help your friends or a person that works for you survive during this most critical time in their life?  Let me give just a couple of principles of survival during divorce. Read the rest of this entry »