Single Mom Life

Dating After Divorce

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Last year, when my ex-husband told me he was done with our marriage, a tiny voice in my head whispered, “Might as well join a convent until the girls are in college.”

In the months leading up to the end of my marriage, I thought a lot about old relationships. I dissected what is was about them which made me feel alive and loved – first loves, one night stands, old lovers, flirtations, and even the blossoming of my relationship with my ex-husband. I dreamed of what it would be like to be a woman in love and lust again. Despite repeated attempts, I wasn’t getting there with my husband. Bound by my values to vows of loyalty, the only thing left to do was stick it out.

I  was married, emotionally exhausted, and profoundly lonely.

Here he was, breaking it off and setting us both free. You’d imagine some small part of me would have been excited at the prospect of finding romance again. A convent, however, is neither exciting nor romantic.

It does provide tremendous comedic relief, though. I told friends about my holy thoughts and we had ourselves some good laughs imagining my life as a dating single mother. Humor was good medicine during those first days of raw emotions and trying to keep it together. Once the laughter died down, my separation and divorce became a fact of life not this grand tragic moment, and the reality set in – I’m single.

The last time I was single was over a decade ago when I was living on a college campus in the middle of Boston. I didn’t know tragedy or pain, just possibility. My heart was ripe for the taking, my breasts were perky, and my options for love or a lover were limitless. Whatever my desire, all I had to do was look in any direction and strike up a conversation. People, familiar and new, swarmed all around me, every minute of every day.

Now I’m a mother of two daughters living in the suburbs of Rhode Island. I know pain intimately; and I’m mending a wounded spirit and heart. New people rarely enter my life and I spend more than 50% of my time at places and events geared at the under 10 crowd. Options for love and lust are few and far between.

I tell friends this and they all point me to online dating.

“Everyone’s doing it.”
“People get married after meeting through online dating sites.”
“It’s just how it’s done now. I mean, what else are you going to do? Go clubbing?”
“At the very least you could get laid.”

I gave in. I set up a blank account on Match to lurk around and see if there was hope out there. I made two major discoveries. First, men take horrible pictures of themselves (my advice: step away from the mirror, lose the wife beater, make absolutely no face which you imagine looks sexy or handsome – you will look like Zoolander, hand the camera to someone else). Second, every man within a 50 mile radius of my zip code is incredibly creepy. I searched maybe a dozen times over the course of a few months, and while I saw a handful who seemed not creepy and interesting, I walked away from Match.com with my assumptions confirmed – there’s no way in hell I want anyone on that site knowing who I am or how to contact me. The convent looks more attractive everyday. Even a blind date looks more appealing.

I report back to my friends, those hopeful fools I love so much, they say I can’t give up. I can’t be single for the rest of my life, they tell me. Only until they’re eighteen, I correct them. That’s not so long, right? Aren’t humans living much longer lives these days?

“Use it or lose it” and “You have to get under someone to get over someone”, my newly divorced friends who are dating remind me. Did I mention my divorced friends? Like attracts like and once I got separated, I found myself in this wonderful community of other newly single mothers. These women are supportive, encouraging, and inspiring. They are also very clearly divided down the middle – the dating and the not dating.

The dating crowd tells me you’ve just got to jump back in and have fun (wink-wink-Tinder-Tinder). The not dating ladies remind me to take my time, wait until I’m good and ready, what’s the rush (wink-wink-failed-marriage)? I believe them both.

Have I gone on any dates since my separation? Nope. Do I want to? Yesnomaybe. Do I want to be in a relationship? Yikes, slow down. Do I want to get married again? I don’t know.

I do know –

I want to love again. I want to kiss and hold hands and be caressed. I want to sit and talk about everything and nothing until forever. I want tenderness and a hand on the small of my back. I want to put my head on someone’s lap when I need to cry, when I need to close my eyes, when my favorite show is on. I want someone to hold, to stand by. I want someone willing to put in the work. I want someone to go through the best and worst of it with me and be willing to come out on the other side. I want to trust again, myself included.

So I haven’t dated since my separation. Instead of meeting new guys, I’ve spent the last year making new friends and nurturing old friendships. They’re reminding me of the kind of friend I want to be and the kind of friend I’m looking for in whoever comes next. Slow and steady, this is the road I’m taking towards love.

If you’ve dated after divorce, found love after divorce, and maybe even, yikes, gotten married after divorce, I’d love to hear your story. Every story encourages the romantic in me.

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14 Comments

  1. Carla, you are awesome and you have the perfect attitude and direction for this new life! I wish you only the best and I look forward to hearing more as you discover more on this new journey! xoxo

  2. wow Carla, I wasn’t aware, but you sure are one strong woman! I say just go with it and “do you.” You won’t be disappointed.

    Good luck with everything! Xxx

  3. I met my husband when his son was 2 years old. He’d been divorced just over a year. We fell in love and were married and pregnant less than a year later. His ex wife also found a nice handsome guy of her own who sure does seem like her perfect match. He is a devoted stepdad to the son we all share. There is hope, my friend!
    Lucy´s last blog post ..My New Years wishes for you

  4. We weren’t married, however after 8 years she told me that she didn’t need me anymore. I am a single parent raising an 11 year old daughter and I am not sure I want to introduce someone else into her life at this point. In fact, I spend almost all of my free time with my daughter. She is a good investment! I guess my life is on hold until I raise my little girl?

    1. I get where you’re coming from, not wanting to introduce anyone into her life. I’m equally torn between that and the desire to have my daughters witness healthy relationships and healthy dating. Our lives are models for them on how they will make choices and live so that’s always in the back of my mind as well. When someone worthy of your love and her love comes along, you’ll know =)

      1. She is at a very impressionable age. I want her to to grow up with good values. I miss the emotional and physical connection of an enduring relationship, but I feel her future is my primary focus. It’s hard to just put your personal life on hold at age 50, but time will tell. Just keep smiling!

      2. Well my names Dave also my kids are all grown now I’ve been divorced & raised my 3 sons by myself, my gf of 14 yrs just left me fora so called friend, some friend, I know that ther is a woman out ther for me cause I have a lot to offer them, I just know my heart can’t take much more of being broken

  5. OK, so I call the summer after my first husband left The Summer of Love.

    Once I got out of the fetal position and started going out, I repeated this mantra to myself: I am beautiful. I am strong. I will not be bitter. I will love again. I let myself have a date with the dentist who approached me at the grocery store. I accepted an invitation for a 2AM rendez-vous with a bartender in Bermuda. I had a friend with benefits. I dated men that were a whole decade younger than I.

    And finally, I accepted an invitation to visit my now-husband in Phoenix for the first time, and we dated cross-country. He called me every night and proved that he was going to be there for me, and he has made me believe in love again for sure.

    It will happen for you too, gorgeous girl.
    Kristin Shaw´s last blog post ..Arrivederci, 2014

    1. I love this. It’s such a roller coaster & like you did, you’ve got to get through the thick of it then just brush yourself off and put on your big girl pants 😉

  6. Kristin Shaw sent me over, and I’m so glad she did. I’ve been divorced for six years (holy crap). It took me a year to think of dating. Then I went online, and I dated some nice (and some not-so-nice) guys. I haven’t dated anyone in two years, because I did fall in love again, but it didn’t work out. So I find myself back at the beginning…right where you are, though maybe a bit more jaded. All that to say– and I know of what I speak–you’ll know when you’re ready. There is no perfect time. There’s no perfect scenario except for the scenario that works for you. I love what Kristin says–be open. I’m going to take that advice, too. xo
    Lisa´s last blog post ..The House Where Merry Died

    1. Lisa, thank you so much for sharing your experience. I believe in love fiercely, always have, always will. And it inspires me every time I read a story about love after divorce.

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