Photo of cinderella fairy tale in Efteling

Photo of cinderella fairy tale in Efteling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So that might seem like a overly negative title to a blog entry…”The Fairy Tale is Over”.   But as I tell my mother almost every time we speak.

“Mom, dating is just a different game when you are divorced and over 35″

I left my husband because after a total of nine years together, seven of which were as a married couple, he came out as a homosexual.  I really had no choice but to end the marriage, and one of the worst things since leaving him has been what feels like a life sentence of being alone.  Again, I know that sounds bleak, but dating in New York is difficult, dating in New York after being divorced and over the prime years of your life is next to impossible.

The real differences that I see are in my friends that are about a decade or so younger than myself.  Many of which are now getting engaged, married or moving in together.  They have that youthful giddiness and excitement that is rare in people past a certain age.  Not to say that being 38 is old, because it is not, but it isn’t the same as being 28.  My friends who are approaching marriage all believe that they will beat the odds.  They look at their partners with that look of pure love and adoration in which all of their problems will be solved through this perfect mate.  Both men and women get like this and it is a sweet thing to see.   But the same quality is rare in those of us who have lived a little bit longer, and had what we thought was the relationship to last forever, crumble before our eyes.

Even though I don’t look my age, I openly admit that I am 38 to anyone who cares to know.  I know as a performer I should try to keep this secret, but since my career consists mainly of performing in bars, I don’t really worry about the public knowing the year of my birth.  It’s not like I am losing jobs because of my age, as I am not getting much of anything offered to me to begin with.  And I look at it this way; I have lived a life, I am not a young kid and I don’t hide it.

My problem with dating, is that at first I had the expectation that it would be just like when I was in my twenties.  Men would be more excited and enthusiastic about wanting to date me, they would have higher expectations about the relationship and once committed it might last at least a few months.  But what I have found is men that are too wrapped up in their own divorce dramas, too busy raising children from a previous marriage, too involved in their jobs, or just too jaded to feel vulnerable enough to commit to another person.   I can only speak of my own experience, but I hear the same thing from men about divorced single mothers, or divorced women.

And then of course there are those that I have written about before on this blog.  The men and women who are just not the committed relationship partner type, and never will be.   They are in their early forties and have never lived with a partner much less been married or engaged.  For multiple reasons such as, personal preference, demanding jobs, lifestyle habits, personality problems, or simply the love of being single they will never marry or commit to one partner for any length of time.  Then there are all of those age appropriate men that are married or in a committed long-term relationship and aren’t going to be single any time soon, if ever again.

So given this, I have had to readjust my expectations of dating.  It is an extremely difficult adjustment for me but now when trying to date I have come to expect the following

  • Expect to see the person less, than I would like.
  • Expect the relationship to fall apart with very little warning – It seems the older people get, the quicker they will abandon a relationship they don’t think is working.  At least that has been my observation from my own experience and my friends.
  • Realize that a potential partner might be overwhelmed with caring for children, so much so that I don’t get the attention I used to getting in a relationship
  • Have to help the partner deal with their own sense of loss from a divorce
  • Help the partner deal with anger or an ongoing war with their former spouse or girlfriend.
  • Learn not to rely on a partner for as much emotional support as I was used to in my marriage
  • Expect more guarded, and wounded people in the dating pool

With all of these obstacles it just comes down to a position of how much can a person deal with, and what is worth it for the bigger picture.  So a new guy may not call me every day, but is that so horrible?  And I may only get to see him once a week or even less, but as I am a busy person myself, do I need to see them more?  I have to take every man on a case by case basis, what is tolerable and what is unacceptable.

And honestly when I look around at my circle of friends I tend to see this pattern over and over again.  The younger couples have the excitement I remember from my early to mid-twenties.  While the older couples seem more practical and subdued, they also seem to date less.

It is as if as a divorced person we don’t believe in fairy tales anymore because our own fairy tale for whatever reason was destroyed.  So a partner may not consume our lives and hearts and minds as they did when we were younger.  I no longer expect a man to fall “head over heels” in love with me anymore.  And I don’t know if I necessarily want that anyway, because at one point in my life it is how I felt about my husband.  And that enthusiasm is exactly what blinded me to reality that he kept so carefully guarded.

I know there are exceptions, and some people really do get amazing romances the second or third or even forth time around.  I haven’t seen a lot of evidence that it is going to happen for me and I am not expecting it anymore.  But I can’t completely give up hope, at least I am not looking at the situation with rose-colored glasses.   And as I say all the time

Dating in your late thirties after a divorce is just a different game”

I just have to learn how to play it.

11 comments on “Dating after Divorce – The Fairy Tale is Over

  1. skc

    As a 45 y.o. single guy who has never been married and has no kids, but who really wants both of those things and is emotionally available to be a great partner (Imago therapy), I refuse to give up on the fairy tale.

    1. Aziz

      Perfectly said in one sentence. I think you may have just sparked her interest in you, Smart!

      1. julietjeske

        You commented on my “About” section. I really don’t want comments over there, it sort of strange. I can’t have people asking me questions on my bio. I think it should just speak for itself. If you want to see my comedy, just google my name, I am all over the net. I have a youtube channel, I have dozens of videos some with thousands of views. My blog is my blog and I don’t think it has to be knee slapping funny.

  2. James

    Ok, it DOES happen again. You just have to remain open to whatever each situation is worth.

    Some might be short lived. Some might be glaringly wrong within the first 5 minutes. Some might end up almost right, but (painfully) not quite.

    Then, when you’re just open and honest and genuine, not putting too much weight on any big chance or stupid detail; not looking at dates as interviews for potential life partners, there will come one that you discover something in. While there will be history’s baggage and other difficulties or inconveniences, those will seem less insurmountable.

    There will be something more important that’s very, very right. The thing is, you can’t find that thing when you think you already know what you’re looking for.

    Take THAT lesson from how 25yr olds do it (who are engaged by 28.)

    Marriage/long term relationships are freaking TOUGH sometimes… you can’t go into that with someone when you don’t have some damn good reasons to stay in it when things get messy.

    1. boba

      Or look for someone who doesn’t view it as a game at all

  3. Surtr

    Julie, you’re over 30 – you’ve hit the wall. Your best years are behind you. you’re going to have to lower your standards or date an older(45-50ish) man. a man your age is either going after younger women (under 30) or pumping and dumping women your age. the older man might pump and dump you as well if you’re not long term relationship material.

    It’s not fair, but that’s the way it is.

  4. Josh

    Julie – I realize you probably wouldn’t be enthused to correspond with a stranger in the rectum of the west, but I have to say that I’ve often felt precisely the same as a male who is a hopeless romantic and a complete sap. I’m screwed because my models are my paternal and maternal grandparents who I probably spent more time with growing up than I did my own parents, and they both had the Notebook kind of love. I mean I know for a fact love exists. To our generation, love, like God, is dead (note: not that I’m a theist exactly).

    But it has continued to elude me my entire life, and I’ve had a hard time finding women worth their salt these days in any respect. I mean finding a woman who doesn’t want to bed me on the first date has proven a real challenge. My female friends tell me not to be repulsed but to take the same as a compliment because society tells women that’s what they have to do if they really like a guy. But I can’t help feeling like such behavior exudes a complete lack of self respect or telegraphs major intimacy and avoidance problems, and wondering how many other guys she’s bedded as near complete strangers. And when I kvetch to my friends and loved ones, many consider me a complete eccentric oddity for not embracing their lifestyle and for considering it unhealthy and deleterious to mental, emotional, and even physical health–a bit of a “traditionalist” or a Puritanical prude.

    As a divorcee and single parent, I want to marry my best friend one day. And I truly want to be friends first as I find dating to be surreal, disingenuous and generally disrespectful of the humanity of other human beings, and truly *just friends* not as code for I want to be friends with benefits or code for I’m not looking for a relationship because I’m commitment-phobic, but because I want to marry my best friend and to have established a firm foundation for the rest of my life with her in radical friendship that cannot be denied.

    I just wanted to tell you that although we may be the last living souls on planet earth, you are not alone. We aren’t hunting unicorns, and I was grateful to stumble upon your article today in the Huff Post because it reminded me that although there is a relative dearth of women such as yourself here in the bawdy, raunchy sausage factory that is Wyoming, that you do somehow exist. And, being true to myself, I have just got to leave here (unfortunately, single parenthood makes that difficult when coupled with a worthless college degree and mountain of debt) because of what really matters to me in this life and what I really want from it. You’ve encouraged me to leave, and to regain my focus upon my writing in hopes that it might provide the means.

    If ever you wish to talk more about this or simply just to kvetch, your kvetching and commiseration would be quite welcome. Feel free to drop a PM.

  5. Ohio

    It could be you are simply venting in your blog or looking for answers to relationship success. In the mean time get the book “The way of the superior man” by David Deida. It gives a lot of insight about men and women in the relationship dance.

  6. James

    As a man in a similar situation, I’d just hope you don’t put us all in the same category. Plenty of guys, myself included, would love to who where grounded, intelligent, funny women hang out!

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