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.
- Top 10 Worst Things to Say to a Newly Divorced Person (julietjeske.wordpress.com)
- Why Do Men Prefer to Stay Single? (horoscopes.typepad.com)
- Divorce.us.org Shares Their New Website and the Symptoms of Divorce in the Technological Age (prweb.com)
- Stop Your Divorce And Save Your Marriage Part 5 (church4u2.wordpress.com)
- Guest post: Why is divorce a dirty word? (confessionsofamediocremom.wordpress.com)
- Lessons for a Good Marriage, from the Divorced Who Finally Got It Right (healthland.time.com)