There are four things everyone will tell you about divorce: 1) It's a descent into hell; 2) it's better than a bad marriage; 3) you need to put the kids first, and 4) it's less costly if you use a mediator.
But here are five things no one mentions:
- Other marriages aren't that great, either. A friend who recently ended a 30-year marriage said wonderingly, "One cousin offered a quick 'I'm sorry' before starting to quiz me on the logistics. Which spouse was moving out? Was my lawyer a hardass? How did we tell the kids? It turned out he was only a month or two behind me."
Some unions are on shaky ground even though no one's admitting it. I have a friend whose husband asked her not to have dinner with me after my marriage failed -- he thought my issues "might be catching."
- Everyone's a therapist. Many of your loved ones truly believe that your problem has a simple solution; that they know it; and that you want to hear it. "By the time I announce I'm getting divorced, I've already spent years trying not to get divorced," another friend pointed out. "At this point, telling my wife 'I love you' is not going to fix it."
- Everyone will become obsessed with your sex life. Your mother, your dry cleaner and the stranger in the next office will all want to know if you're getting laid, or getting laid more often. As if that wasn't weird enough, a surprising number of people will assure you that you're going to get laid more often. This may be great news, but it's not a discussion you want to have with the UPS man.
- Finding new sexual partners will not be a problem. As it happens, the UPS man is right: sex is easier to come by than ever. Most divorced folks are fleeing relationships that, in later years at least, were sadly lacking in physical activity. We're not desperate -- we've learned to live happily without sex if needed -- but we're certainly willing to entertain attractive offers.
- Finding new sexual partners will not solve your problems. "I had a spreadsheet full of phone numbers and a pocket full of Viagra," recalled one 60-year-old man. "My friends thought I had it made, but I'm too old to bullshit myself that sex can replace intimacy."
The good news is, there is life after divorce. The bad news is, you need to figure out what you want in order to get it.
Find out whether the dating service does any background checks or fraud scans before a person's profile is posted.
Be cautious if the person claims to be recently widowed or says they're an American stationed overseas, possibly in the military.
Watch out if the person immediately asks you to communicate on an email or messaging system outside the dating site. Some dating sites monitor exchanges for signs of fraud, and a fraudster may be anxious to lure you away from the site.
Do a Google search on the person. You can even paste the text of the email, profile description, or pictures into Google and search to see if similar text, pictures or descriptions are used by others. Some criminals create multiple profiles and use the same information over and over.
Run the other way if the person hints that they are in financial trouble or have another sudden need for money. (This can occur after months of online chatting.) If the person asks you to wire money--such as by Western Union, MoneyGram or Green Dot MoneyPak--it more than likely is a scam.
Check the person's name in online databases of sex offenders, which are available in many states.
If you decide to meet the person, go to a place where there are large numbers of people and where you feel safe. Consider taking someone along with you.
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