A couple of years ago while watching a documentary I discovered a house cat can revert to its natural state under the right circumstances. I imagined my obese ginger male going from his prescription canned cat food to hunting and feasting on rodents and birds. His once silky coat now matted with dirt and leaves. His fat haunches transformed into lean muscle.  Instead of dramatically crying for his supper twice a day, he’d hide in alleys and beneath parked cars avoiding contact with humans while ruling the night. As I stroked Otto’s fur I decided I’d was no longer single, I’d turned feral instead.

When I  went through a difficult divorce nine years ago I suspected my dating life would be difficult.  I had no idea it would become a soul-crushing, near impossible endeavor.  Right out of the gate, I had two fairly tragic rebound relationships that imploded almost as soon as they’d started. Online dating felt more like an exercise in attrition and increasingly lowered expectations.  I’d get the obligatory emails from men involved with BDSM – twice as many submissives than dominants. Couples would email me hoping I want to join in some three-way play. My inbox would overflow with email from men in other countries and far away states. Traveling business men would contact me late at night, expecting me to drop everything to run to their hotel room and be their unpaid prostitute.  Dates rarely materialized and if they did they were often two awkward people sitting across from each other with nothing in common but judgmental stares.  Men openly criticized me for my profession, the circumstances around my divorce, and pretty much every lifestyle choice I had made up until the point of meeting them. When I met men offline it seemed like the only interested parties were either married or so young they could easily be mistaken for my son. I’d also met guys who expected me to go home with them five minutes after meeting them. If I showed any hesitation at all I was quickly forgotten for the next random woman who would say yes.

When I showed interest in anyone I was usually treated like a completely crazy person. I realize I’m not every man’s dream woman.  I have a big personality.  I talk a lot.  I’m so nerdy that I can blather for hours about the rise of fascism or the madness of Kaiser Wilhelm II. I won’t know anything about the latest movie that came out but I could tell you more than you’d ever want to know about the life of Nikola Tesla or how mutations take hold in a genome.  I’m opinionated and stubborn.  I will disagree and challenge men often and openly.  For amusement I get onstage and yell at total strangers in darkened basements that are masquerading as makeshift comedy clubs.  I’m a sledgehammer of truth.  Some folks find my qualities charming while others, find them incredibly annoying. My natural nemesis seems to be the classic khaki wearing, boat shoed finance bro alpha male. On multiple occasions I’ve found myself in screaming matches with a half drunk, angry day trader minutes after meeting them.

I’m also not all that interested in finding my dream man.  I have massive trust issues and pretty much assume every man is lying to me from the moment they open their mouth.  Because my ex-husband was a closeted gay man I pretty much assume all men are gay until proven otherwise.  Any nurturing qualities left in me were stamped out by my dysfunctional and broken marriage.  I don’t want to fix a man, pay his rent, make him forget his last girlfriend or guide him through rehab.  If he’s not ready to wear I’ll just toss him back on the pile.  I have zero interest in being an unpaid and untrained psychotherapist. There’s no part of me that longs to hang out with people I can’t stand because they’re friends with my partner.  I don’t want to sit through plates of hot wings and beer when I’d rather have vegetarian Chinese takeout. If he’s wounded and broken, I’ll leave him for someone who can handle wounded and broken.  I’ve got a freight train worth of emotional baggage and a hair-trigger that will cause me to bolt the second I sense danger.  If a man blanks me on a text, I will delete them from my phone.
I’ll leave my apartment with glasses, messy hair, ball caps and dirty jeans.  No fucks are given.  I watch my weight like a hawk because I have to for my industry but I honestly don’t care if someone finds me “pretty.”

I’ve got no online dating profiles. I waste no glances as men walk by. I pose no questions about a man’s dating status.

I live in an apartment the size of an average single car garage. My 450 square foot space is so small that no man would look at it and see an inch for his belongings. There’s no spare drawer or extra closet space. If I was actually trying to date I’d issue parking rules on my front door. – Four hour minimum or mandatory tow.

I look forward to my future as I grow increasingly strange and eccentric.  I’ll become the 60-year-old with blue hair who still wears Doc Martens and has birthday parties for my cats.  The lack of companionship has caused entire sections of my personality to atrophy and die.  I encourage others now to eschew the label of single and embrace the feral mindset.  We are no longer waiting for our Mr. or Mrs. Right, we are hunting proverbial birds and mice in the night and loving every second of it.

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5 comments on “Dating After Divorce: On Turning Feral…

  1. Megan

    I was single for about 5 years, but have been in a monogamous relationship for about four months now. Things seem to be going well. I have ALWAYS held men to a high standard especially if I was truly interested in them. And it was easy because I watched women give their all to all the wrong men. They would let these men wear on their health, exploit their womb with out of wedlock and “oops” babies, use them up sexually, and spend them emotionally. Red flags are almost always there, but some simply ignore them. Anyway, while I was single, I prayed a lot and simply took care of me until I found someone that I deemed worthy of me. And then I met him…he literally had to PROVE to me why I should give him a chance because of the low quality men I observed just completely destroy once-in tact women. Juliet, I have been following your blog for awhile now (about six years) and I’m going to repeat what I advised you to do at least two years ago: Put the Lord first. You may not be “religious”, but it seems Jesus is the only think you need to bring you out of your feral state. Pray sincerely and ask the Lord why you can’t find love in a healthy, functioning relationship with a heterosexual man. And He will answer you. I prayed also. Before that, I wondered around in the forest aimlessly trying to get what I wanted on my terms which is why I was single for so long. Pray, Juliet, and you will eventually find peace.

    1. julietjeske Post author

      I’m not religious at all. I won’t really get into it as that’s a separate topic but thanks.

  2. georgialynnpine

    Boyfriend and I were both feral when we met. We spent months saying, “I don’t need you.” “Good, because I don’t need YOU, either.” Everything was optional, each of us was replaceable, neither of us was going to put up with shit from anyone for more than two seconds, and we were just as likely to eat standing at the stove as at a table. Being able to dump-and-run was crucial to both of us, if we needed to, in those first years. We still have some pretty feral aspects, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Being feral is powerful, after a damaging domestication. Coming out of a mixed-orientation marriage is a mindfuck of epic proportions, but surviving it has also made me completely unable to tolerate bullshit, and equally aware that I can handle anything I need to handle. You’re right. Lean and free is glorious, even with the parts that make much of society uncomfortable.

    1. julietjeske Post author

      I love the term damaging domestication that’s great.

  3. Peggy Vlismas

    OH MY LORD, how did you get in my brain and read my thoughts!!!! I have been divorced now for 2 yrs, but post gay husband about 7 and you just described my life!!!! the only men I waste a look on are the ones that are so out of reach for me (read TV and Movie people) that way I can still drool, but not even get close as getting close means opening up my heart to get get destroyed again After 20 yrs of VERY HAPPY marriage I might say (I found out accidentally he was batting for the other side and had done for the whole 9 yards) it took me so long to put my heart back together that I just wont risk it! I wouldn’t say I was feral if feral means going out looking messy, as I am a bit OCD about that, but so many other things you say are just me to a T and you know what??? I am not changing for anything. I say to people who suggest I get a new partner, If the Universe thinks I need a partner, it better get its shit together and plonk him right in front of me! cause I aint looking for him! – keep writing Juliet, I love your blogs!

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