That did it. On that day in 2005 I knew I needed to get divorced. Well, obviously my primary goal was marriage, but if I couldn't get and stay successfully married, my second goal was to be divorced so I'd be a better dating prospect. It was the reasoning of someone who expected to be single for most of her life. I needed to lose my never-married virginity.
I achieved the goal of getting married in 2008. After my husband ended things, we achieved the goal of being legally divorced in 2014. At first being divorced felt like a hell of a consolation prize: I liked being married and hadn't expected to call it quits after just five years. But I had to face the fact that our marriage hadn't been what I had wanted for a while, so my husband was right: it was best to part (I'm skipping over all the work I did trying to improve our marriage. I did try). Now I know he did me a favor: my parents' marriage had given me a model of sticking it out no matter how painful and I was falling into that same behavior. It really was time to move on.
So here I am, back online, looking for first dates that might turn into second dates. But here are the differences:
- In my late 40's, I know much better who I am and what I need.
- My confidence has increased 100% since the last time I did this, so I'm better able to weather disappointments and rejection.
- Having been a wife, I have none of my former desperation to get married, gotta get married, please someone marry me.
- Comfortable with who I am, it's much easier to be myself with strangers.
- I can now select the "Divorced" option in the self-description! YAY!
Of course, there's a big logical flaw in thinking that someone's being divorced shows that they're capable of commitment. I suspect what's really going on is a subconscious preference for a person who follows societal expectations. If you get married and have children by around the age of 45, then you're aligned with two of the biggest values that exist: marriage and procreation. That alignment - whether active or just going along with what others expect of you - is part of the core of who you are. People who get married and have kids are more comfortable with others who get married and have kids. That's completely natural, so why wouldn't that also apply to dating?
I wonder how that affects my online dating experience. Even though I fit the expectation of being a middle-aged woman who's divorced, I'm still unusual because I didn't have children and don't want them. Could this be part of why I'm having more trouble finding dates these days than 15 years ago? I probably need a middle-aged man's input on this. It could just be that I'm less physically attractive, or that there are fewer eligible men in my age group, or that men in my age group are pickier than men in their 30s. Who knows? But I've gone as far as I'm going to go. I've achieved my coveted divorced status, but I'm not adopting children just to fit the usual profile.
|I love this ring.|
Nevertheless, I know I'd probably get no responses at all if I couldn't call myself divorced. Sure, I could have lied when I was in my 30's and said I was divorced, but I hate trying to be dishonest. It feels wonderful to be able to cleanly and truthfully say that I used to be married, but it didn't work out and the divorce was final over a year ago. My divorce has given me gravitas, pain credentials, a point of common ground with other divorced people, wisdom and perspective. And one of the biggest gifts I've gotten from being divorced is that I've completely lost my former belief that I'm worthless without a man. This allows me contentment with my life as it is and patience as I consider finding a new relationship. I'm no longer rampaging around on the man-hunt. That feels so good! I love being divorced.