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Life After Divorce: Please don’t Blame me for being Single

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The number one article on this blog is simply titled “Dating After Divorce: Why it’s so Difficult in your late Thirties” It’s been read nearly 30,000 times.  Nothing else I’ve written comes close to the amount of hits that article gets.  It’s certainly not my best or most entertaining piece. It gets a lot of hits because there are so many frustrated people searching for answers.

My younger friends try to empathize, but they have no idea what I go through.   When a person is in his or her early twenties, they’re constantly meeting other single people.   When they get together their friends a few strangers might end up making out on a couch in the corner.  When I go to a social event with folks my age, it’s mostly married couples.  While the pairs huddle together to discuss co-op boards, school districts and home renovations, I’m in the corner with the other single gals and gay men swapping sex stories and dick pics.  I’m not sure why, but straight single men are rare at such soirees.  At the last barbeque a unattached heterosexual man showed up alone, then bragged about his multiple girlfriends.

My married friends really don’t get it.  I love them dearly, but they just have no idea what I go through.  They wake up next to the same person every day of their lives.  They pay bills, worry about the future and plan vacations.  They might fight often, they might be at the brink of divorce, they might even romanticize their single years, but they’re still one half of a couple.  They know nothing of going to every social gathering alone, buying solo movie tickets, or being set up on horrible dates by well-meaning friends.

One married friend suggested that I change my attitude about dating.  He then listed three people who had all gotten remarried after a divorce.  I had to point out to him that all three examples were men who had married much younger women. Being single past 35 is difficult for both genders, but the challenges men and women face are different.  In two of the examples he gave, the men went on to have more children.  My age definitely makes me less attractive to a man who wants kids.  When I asked my friend for some examples of women who had remarried in my age range, he had none.  He just couldn’t see that my problems with dating are real and not imagined.  A simple attitude change was not going to produce age appropriate single men from the sky.

When I go out of my social network most of the interest I get is from men half my age.  I try to tell the young ones they won’t understand my sarcasm, my world-weary outlook and my complete lack of shame or social filter.  Usually they realize they’d rather be with someone with more of a spark of hope in her eyes rather than the jaded cougar. I don’t blame them.

I want my counterpart.  A man who’s had a few of his dreams and aspirations crushed.  At least he’ll understand my point of view and understand that life is mostly improvisation.  The young ones don’t always get that, and how could they?  The roller coasters of romance have knocked people my age around so much they’ve gotten skittish and scared.  They’ll pine away for a love they can’t have, complain bitterly about the one who broke their heart and avoid making any type of commitment with a new partner.  I do empathize as I’m not much different, but with so much hesitation and apathy it’s hard to get excited about anyone.

So I’ve tried, and I have other things to do with my life than spend all of my free time looking for “the one.”.  I’ve accepted that this could be my reality for some years to come.  It gets lonely, and there are days when I just want to scream at the top of my lungs and make it stop.  Then there are times when I’m so thankful that I’m not responsible for anyone else, I’m in charge of all of my finances and I can paint my bedroom whatever color I want.  When I walk by a couple fighting, or listen to a friend rant about their marital problems, I think – I’m free.

When did being in a relationship become the only path to contentment and happiness?  Don’t we all know couples who are miserable?  Don’t we all have friends and family members who remain in a marriage that is a toxic hell?  Don’t we all know men and women who will be with nearly any partner rather than be alone?  It’s not the years you’ve put in, but the quality of the partnership.  Right now after everything I’ve been through, I can honestly say I know more about myself then I ever did when I was someone’s girlfriend or wife.  I’ve discovered more about my strengths and weaknesses in the past 5 years than I did in the first 36.  I might not have someone to hold my hand when things get rough, but I also don’t have anyone to pull me down or hold me back.  I am responsible for my demise or my success.

I’m single and I might remain so for the rest of my life.  I probably won’t have kids.  I’ll have no first day of school photos, handmade cards with the word “Mom” scribbled in crayon, or pools of vomit to clean up after an underage drinking binge.  I won’t go through the highs and lows of parenthood, and none of this means I am less of a person.  A partner and a child do not validate my existence on this planet.

I’m not broken because I’ve been alone for an extended period of time.  I am single.  This is my life, and there is nothing wrong with me because I choose to live alone, rather than stay in a bad partnership. If two people are happy in a long-term committed relationship it’s a beautiful, wonderful, magical thing, but so is building a future by myself, on my terms and without a toxic partner.

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Dating After Divorce: Mr. or Ms. Angry

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Raiva-Ager-Icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am adding the following disclaimer to all of my dating related blog posts.  I change details, and create composite characters when I write about dating archetypes such as “Mr. Houdini, Mr. Angry, etc.  I would hate it if someone wrote about a high energy blonde comedian negatively in a blog, so because of that I never include a person’s occupation or anything about their physical description.  I also change enough details that I doubt anyone I am referring to would even recognize themselves if they read one of my articles.   I have split one person into three, or taken several people and put them all into one example.  So simply put, I am very ethical on this blog.

We have all been out with someone like this, and I will freely admit that I have been this exact person.  I am writing this in part, because I need to remind myself of this bad dating habit.  🙂  And as always all of my examples will remain confidential and I will change certain details to protect the not-so-innocent.

Mr.or Ms. Angry

  • Usually over 35 (Or any age)
  • Any occupation
  • Any socioeconomic background
  • Any level of physical attractiveness from gorgeous to hideous

Bad behavior

  • Immediately starts complaining about something on a date
  • Bitches about their ex
  • Goes on and on about something negative
  • Gets angry with you over nothing
  • Shows disrespect to a server or another service based employee
  • Says horrible things about their family members
  • Plays the Victim with no shades of gray

I will openly admit that I have been extremely guilty of being a “Negative Nellie” while on dates.  In my case I am more of a Ms. Morbid or Ms. Negative than Angry but they are really just different shades of the same color.  A date with a “Mr. Angry” will usually go something like this…

You meet somewhere for a quick bite or drink and your date immediately starts into a rant about something horrible in his or her life.  It could be one of any of the following, divorce, breakup, finances, politics, mortgage, lease, problems at work, hatred of something, even a former lover.

Mr. or Ms. Angry starts his or her first conversation with a virtual stranger with a complaint of some sort.  Are they justified?  They very well might have plenty of reason to rant, but doing so on a first date is a terrible idea.  I know I have a bad habit of talking about my divorce but it is difficult for me to avoid this topic since I am currently writing a book about it, I blog for the Huffington Post in the Divorce section and has been the single most traumatic and transformative event in my life.  It is difficult to not speak of the elephant in the room.  But try I must, because when I’m meeting a person for the first time and I find myself  just ranting about some injustice the red flags are blowing in the wind and sirens are going off, Danger, Danger…RUN!

One man insisted on calling me before our date.  I hate calling men on the phone I haven’t met, but we had a mutual friends so I agreed to it.  He started our conversation with a 20 minute rant on how much he hated living in Los Angeles.  He then went on about an illegal sublet and an unfair landlord, and spoke at length about his complicated realtionship with his ex-wife.  Which he said and I quote “Any woman is just going to have to DEAL with it, but I still love her!”  Why I didn’t get off the phone is beyond me, but he topped off the conversation by referring to  Kermit the Frog as a “Pig F*cker”.   And he said as much with pure venom.  I won’t get into what this man did for a living to protect his privacy, but his job was sort of related to children’s entertainment.   Most examples of Mr. and Ms. Angry will complain about a former partner, as complaining about an ex seems to make sense to a new potential mate.  I’ve done it myself, but I wish I hadn’t.  As I have said many times on this blog and in my stand-up.

Any man who trashes his ex in front of a new woman, don’t be surprised if you are next on his list.

And of course this goes for women as well.  We have all dated psychos and some of us have experienced extremely bad behavior – cheating, deception, physical violence, disrespect, obsessiveness, controlling or manipulative behavior .  We may feel completely justified in our rants, but listing our grievances presents us in the absolute worst light to a new suitor.  It is also a huge red flag is EVERY former partner of a Ms. or Mr. Angry is:

  • Crazy
  • Psycho
  • Abusive
  • Addict or Alcoholic

You have to ask yourself, what is the other side of the story?  And why does this person keep picking unstable or cruel people as partners? Some are real victims as bad relationships happen to nearly everyone, but if literally EVERY former lover is pure evil…chances are these situations have far more shades of gray then Mr. or Ms. Angry will let you in on.

When Mr. or Ms Angry starts off with a bitch fest, they are also letting you know that any new person in their life is a dumping ground for emotional baggage.  If you end up dating that person, you will become the new rubbish bin.  Of course we all complain about our lives to our friends and lovers but it should only be part of the relationship, not the main part.  Ideally you go on dates to get to know a new person, find things you share in common and if you are really lucky discover the intangible and elusive connection.  Your date is not your therapist, and you shouldn’t let someone treat you like one either.  I outta know, I know of where I speak on this one. 🙂  I have been both accidental therapist AND the ranting lunatic.

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