English: Lower Manhattan at late dusk.

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I wish I could write snappy little sentences on this topic, compile a top ten list of things to combat the sense of being utterly alone.  I could give obvious tips like surround yourself with friends, or don’t hide up in your apartment by yourself.  But it would be disingenuous of me to give advice because I don’t have any answers.  I didn’t sign up for being alone in my late thirties: no children, no spouse and very little hope of change.  Someone from my distant past who I don’t know well, put the following on my facebook wall

“Why don’t you just learn to be happy without a man?”

He couldn’t understand that this ridiculously dismissive statement upset me.  Needless to say we are no longer friends. His declaration just seemed like a death sentence.  I should just resign myself to being alone the rest of my life, that somehow wanting a relationship is a weakness.  I can’t imagine someone going up to a man who had ended his marriage and telling him

Who needs a woman?  You should be happy on your own!

I guess some might, but it seems socially more acceptable to espouse this sentiment to a woman instead of a man.  Up until recently women had fewer choices in life than men, it was either get married or struggle on your own.  Now we have a myriad of variations of a healthy adult life.  I am not searching for a partner for a sense of financial stability or cultural acceptance.  I just prefer to live in a committed relationship and not have a series of short-lived affairs.  Not everyone likes the same flavor ice cream and not everyone likes the same lifestyle.  I don’t know how it is a weakness on my part to want to share my life with another.

There is some truth in his statement:  I should learn to love living on my own and I shouldn’t need a partner in my life.  But I am hardly 80 years old.  I don’t think I should accept my fate of a permanently single woman bereft of any romantic endeavors.  Some people tell me I am trying too hard, and I should just let nature take its course.  Well even though I keep trying to convince people otherwise; I really don’t meet anyone in my daily routine.  I work with children in my day job so I meet a lot of married dads, and at night I host burlesque and comedy shows.  Any men that I seem to attract from my performances are not attracted to me in a healthy way, in fact some of them have acted more like stalkers.  They aren’t seeing me, but a fragment of my personality heightened for the stage. These men tend to put me on such a high pedestal; I would have no way to go but down, if I actually tried to have a relationship with any of them.  I have no desire to end up with another comic and further complicate any professional ambitions in that field.  Online dating has been a bit of a fiasco for me, yet I still keep trying with no luck.  I feel entirely stuck.

I also get the criticism that I am not trying hard enough.  I should force myself to go out with nearly any man within reason, including men I have no attraction towards or are much older or younger than me.  I don’t know why I should have to put myself through that hell.  Even going out with age appropriate men I am reasonably attracted to is difficult enough.  Occasionally I will get my hopes up on someone only to quickly give up as they don’t feel the same way towards me, or I discover huge compatibility problems.  As I watch nearly everyone in my social group “couple up” at least temporarily I wonder –  What is it about me that is preventing this from happening?  Is that the trauma of my divorce and subsequent depression too glaring to hide?  Is it due to my lack of trust in other people I read as suspicious?  Do I just seem desperate?  Is it this blog? (So far at least one man has blamed it for changing his mind about a second date).  I don’t know.  I go through periods of not caring at all and then waves of feeling like it is never going to change.

The loneliness is stifling.  I am envious of women with children because at least they have someone in their life who is a part of them forever.  My marriage was little more than lies and deception, but at least I had someone to come home to every night.   My spouse was someone I thought was supporting me and with whom I could share my life.  Now it is just endless nights wondering if this is just the new normal.  I didn’t sign up for this when I committed my life to my husband.   As I watch my fellow single friends start dating people they care about, I know I won’t get to talk to them as often or see them as much.  I am happy for them, but it just makes me feel that much more alone.  I wish I had some sort of pep talk for myself and for readers of this blog.  I don’t.  I continue to hang out with friends who love and support me and reach out to loving family members, but the elusive romantic partnership seems lost to me forever.  The most searched for phrase for this blog is the following.

Why is it so difficult to date in your late thirties?

Although I might be lonely, I am definitely not alone.

14 comments on “Life After Divorce: Dealing with Loneliness

  1. Sherril Stewart

    I enjoy reading all of your blogs. This one compelled me to write and let you know that you are sooooo not alone in feeling lonely after divorce and wondering “is that all there is?”
    I hear that song in my head at various times during the week, who sang it, was it Peggy Lee?
    I wonder if all the happiness if behind me now and if my present situation will ever change, much like you. My divorce came through 6 years ago, and I am 57 now. I am on 2 of the more popular dating websites with not much luck. I met an alcoholic for “dinner” and he got drunk at the bar before dinner. Then there was the high paid professional government official that dressed impeccably and took me anywhere I wanted to go. The problem is his ex wife still stalks him and keyed his car recently. She repeatedly called his cell one evening while we were out trying to have a good time. He refused to call the police or his lawyer about her behavior because he fears her wrath. I have stopped seeing him.
    Thus ends my dating experiences for the last year.
    I do not have any loving family for support. Both of my parents are deceased. My brother was killed in a crash at age 24. I am totally alone in the world. I work, but when work ends I am in my small apartment wondering what bad deeds I did in my last lifetime to deserve this kind of karma.
    Yes, I should be happy without a man. I have been told that by many. Like you I have been told that by people that are not alone like me, or like us. I don’t meet people at my job because I work from home as an independent contractor.
    I wonder if our standards are too high, perhaps I need to be open to dating someone that looks like my grandfather and be done with it. What is the purpose of my life anyway? When I said my vows I meant every word. Like you, I thought it would be forever. I did not sign up for this.
    Last Saturday I was alone in the apartment and Whitney’s funeral came on. So that is how I spent my Saturday, watching a funeral for 4 hours & crying my eyes out. My time would have been better spent working out at the gym or hanging in a bar hoping Mr. Right will happen to be there.
    I have almost given up hope, but the little voice inside me says, “hope is all you have left”. I look in the mirror every morning and say “I am beautiful and lovable and doggone it, people like me”.
    My birthday is coming up March 9th. I will be 58 and still looking for that special person. I would love to be married again. Your blog contained most of my thoughts in a nutshell. Am I too needy, do I seem desperate, do men have radar, can they see inside my head? Perhaps I really need to give up hope, then they might come running.
    You have a lot more years than me to find love. I wish you the best of luck and I somehow know deep in my heart that the most special man is right around the corner for you.
    Thanks for your sharing your innermost thoughts and keep on writing.
    – S

  2. tropicaltheartist

    There was a period of my life when I felt lonely. It was one of the worst feelings in the world. I totally sympathize. My exit from loneliness was so unexpected, sudden and miraculous, I would never have believed that I would have been so lucky. All I started doing was trying to love the life I had rather than pining for one I didn’t. That’s not to say that this is the magic secret. It isn’t. There is no magic answer. It just made the wait bearable.

  3. Matthew C

    Wow Juliet….I just happened to stumble upon your blog and i absolutely loved it…I am a 36 year old man who has now been single for a year after 10 years of marriage…my ex decided she needed a change in life and marriage wasn’t going to fit her new lifestyle so she split…well, i got to tell u it was so great reading your blog and being able to know and connect with someone else out there going through the same hardships…u r right it is extremely difficult to be our age and single…just wanted to let u know how great i thought this was to read…good luck w everything, u sound like an amazing woman…keep up the good work!
    -Matthew

  4. Joe

    Is it insensitive to say just let your life go on without searching mightily for a partner? It will probably be that finding someone to share your life with will happen when you least expect it. And think of all the good you are sending out in the world by writing about your experience which, if statistics are accurate, mirror those of millions of your fellow Americans.

    Just keep writing. You are a joy to read and I’m learning a lot.

    1. julietjeske

      In my typical schedule I really don’t meet anyone new. I just see the same people or married dads with young children. Don’t really want to mess with a married guy with children…DISASTER!

      1. Joe

        Do you have a time where you might do something different giving you opportunity to meet new, unmarried people? Any way to alter your schedule? Try out some new activity? Hobby? Event?

        1. julietjeske

          I doubt you live in NYC. It is hard here. Words can’t describe dating in NYC. Everyone is super busy and people just clump into tiny little tribes it is hard to describe. I wasted months on one guy who just wanted to email me more than anything, as he never had time to see me. I kept trying but eventually just gave up. I go on a lot of bad first dates and a few awkward second ones…and have next to no success. When I was in my twenties it wasn’t like this at all. Since my divorce it has just been a horror show. I signed up for a bunch of “meet up” groups but I don’t have enough time to go to the Meet-ups or they conflict with performances or gigs. I can’t get a “real” job as I tried that for months with absolutely no success. I am just focused on my book and making money as I have made it for the past several years. I know a lot of other people my age in the same predicament and I think it worse for women because men tend to date younger women. But it is hard for both genders…

          1. Joe

            You are absolutely right that NYC is hard and I do no longer live there. Now I Live in LA. And if the recent book, Going Solo, is any indication we have an unprecedented number of people living singly in the US. And I suspect that lots of people either enjoy this lifestyle or, like you, find it difficult to alter their current trajectory. You may offer them a way based upon your own experience.

            Your focus on your book must consume a fair amount of time, but since that’s something you want then “go for it.” Forget meeting someone. There is time for only so much. And that book may open undreamed of windows or segues into meeting new people.

            Do you think that your desire to enter a relationship comes across to those men you do meet? Would it scare them as we, men, are after all the truly weaker sex despite the bravado to the contrary! If nothing you’ll have a repertoire of dating experiences for a book or “help” column.

            One day at a time still works. You are probably getting closer even if it may not seem like it. And when it does, you’ll wonder what you were so worried about! Keep going. Nothing is going to hold you down despite this transient layover!

  5. gg

    I came across this amazing blog when looking for getting support when divorced at 40. Reading this I thought it was a support blog. Hard to believe a woman like Juliet has difficulty with that charisma.

    1. julietjeske

      This blog has all been one happy accident. I had no idea anyone would respond to it as they have. I am just a performer in New York and a totally unknown one at that! So thanks. Divorce is hell, and anyone who has been through it knows that all too well!

  6. Janet

    Mu husband left on Valentine’s Day this year. No warning, no indication that he was unhappy, nothing. He just blurted out that he was so unhappy and needed to move out. I was shocked beyond belief. I found out later he had another relationship that he had already set up, ready to step into as soon as he walked out the door, which he did. A girl from work. He even pulled money out against our house without telling me and went and bought a brand new place for them to live in! We were married 16 years! To help appease his guilt over what he did, he started to rewrite our history together, saying horrible things about me to anyone that would listen, including me – he sent numerous emails. It somehow justified in his eyes that what he was doing was okay. That’s what those types of men do, I am told.

    It was bad enough being hurt in such a horrible way with how he left, but then to be criticized and betrayed – that just about did me in. I was the most loving, loyal wife – I am like a loyal dog – I will stay forever with someone.

    He had issues – lost a lot of money on a bad investment, was soon turning 50 years old, was not happy with himself, but was blaming me.

    Anyway, I was lonely before I married and my mother always said to me, “That feeling never really goes away until you get married.” She was right. Once married, I was never lonely again, until that day my husband “ran away”.

    It’s been six months and I accept that I will be alone for the rest of my life. I don’t have to like it, but I accept it. I have a degenerative hearing condition, which makes socializing difficult. I’m 47 years old. I don’t meet many people on my job – I work from home. Plus, what my husband did has destroyed my faith in marriage and men. I didn’t sign up for this. I always believed in marriage and sharing my life with someone. I committed to this man and put a lot of years into our relationship. We were best friends and joked around and talked so much.

    He did say to me at one point, “I wasn’t really that unhappy. I just think I can be happier.” What a selfish attitude! His girlfriend also left her husband at the same time. I wonder how successful they will be together.

  7. Suzanne Parr

    No-one really talks about how lonely it is after divorce… I’ve been ploughing through the internet searching for blogs and writings from people like yourself, to try and make some sense out of my own feelings and my own divorce experience… although reading these words and experiences doesn’t change how I feel, reading other people’s experiences makes me feel less like a freak for feeling exactly how I do right now.

    I am 41 years old and was married for 13 years. 8 years into our marriage I found out that my ex husband has always known he is bipolar… his bipolar was revealed to me when my husband and I were a week away from moving to New York from England… via the US Immigration people… so he was only going to tell me when circumstances meant he had to.

    I joined every bipolar outreach that exists to understand this condition and I pleaded with my ex husband to seek help… he did seek help and I spent the next 5 years helping him… and then after all of my emotional support, he’s all sorted out and feeling fantastic and then he withdrew from me and I left him… I left because I didn’t ever want to hear from his lips why he withdrew from me, because I already knew and I felt sick in my stomach.. I stood as a reminder to him of his bipolar and he wanted to pretend it never happened and to do that… he would have to leave me… he got a new job and a new set of friends and colleagues, he dumped everyone around him, apart from me…. so I ran first.

    And guess what… he was living with someone within the year of me leaving.

    At one point, it was last year (year 2 after the divorce) I considered taking my life because I had lost something I never really had…. a man I thought I knew ?

    All of us out there that have truly loved and have opened their hearts to love know exactly what that pain feels like… when you wake up to what you thought was reality… and it turns out to have been an horrific dream.

    Panic attacks… why the hell was I having panic attacks, I was never someone who was ill or suffered anything before this divorce…. I screamed out the name of my dog (she was a victim of our divorce and she was mine) in the middle of a supermarket and fell to my knees, screaming and rocking… screaming and rocking… I’d turned into some deeply disturbed and grieving ball of pain… it even hurt if someone touched me… I didn’t want anyone to come near me ever… I just wanted Foxy, my dog and even she couldn’t be there for me to cry into.

    There is no magic pill you can take to cure all those feelings and the pain. Not even killing yourself is going to help.

    What you can do is accept…. accept where you are with this… allow yourself to say its ok to hate, it’s ok to feel all that pain and anger… because it is.

    And dating ? Do not date… if you still feel angry and cry you are not ready for a relationship… the vulnerable state you are in will lay you open for more of the same…

    I haven’t given up on myself or life, but I know I still hurt inside – so I accept I still hurt and then I distract myself through work, through renovating my new house and through my art… but I allow myself to grieve when that pain hits me, I cry and scream… and I think that one, small, kind thing is what has saved me.

    Suzanne Parr
    A Human Being.

  8. isabelle g

    Thank you all of you, this blog and its answers are so… true and so beautiful.
    I wish I could have you… all of you in my home for the holidays, just to let you know how
    much we mean for each other.
    Please try to meet if you live in the same city… even if you are not the same age…I am in Seattle, and if any of you is around I will be more than happy to meet you!
    Please find a place to help others, just for a few hours and see if you can relate to your fellow volunteers…
    More than anything know in your heart that you are loved… and already perfect… but any improvement is better than none…
    I am very lonely too, but knowing that I am not alone to be lonely … is helping me… Thanks!!

    1. Terrismith

      I’m 35 years old. Divorce will be final in January. I’m a mother of two kids. 16 and 3. My husband, who decided he was unhappy and was tired of fighting moved in with his girlfriend( 12 years older) no offence. 1month after he left our house. Every thing you said hit home. I didn’t want to do this again. It was really suppose to be forever. I miss cooking dinner. Even if we fought after word. Every man that has asked me out in the last 6mts has been married. ( which makes me sick). Really, I have overcome so many things in my life but loneliness is one of the harder ones. Besides the fact that me and my children had Christmas by ourselves. While he was with his girlfriend. ( at least he got me a card with a $25 khols cash) so I’m sitting inmy bathtub in tears. Writing a blog to you cause at least you get it. By the way, I believe that God is going to send my prince charming and I refuse to let down my values or give uP hope , even if I have to wait forever. :'(

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