After my separation at age 52, I thought I'd simply revert to the lively dating life I'd had in my twenties. It didn't work that way. Most men my age seemed to have an eye only for women whose necks were long and smooth like a Chardonnay bottle.
- I thought cosmetic surgery would help. Then I looked around and, though I saw some women who'd benefitted, I decided the possibility of looking worse was too real. And who wants to have their head stapled anyway?
- I threw my self a divorce party, which was a great way to meet people. Plus it gave me a celebratory Auntie Mame aura.
- At every opportunity, I cultivated new friendships with interesting men to go to dinner with. I never hesitated to call a guy to join me for an outing.
- Everyone said you have to lie about your age. But lying about my age on my online dating profile backfired. If you decide to lie about your age, I suggest preserving the deception. Thinking I was being up front, I'd fess up right away and that was the end before there was even a beginning.
- One friend told me he was fixed up with a woman he liked, but he thought she was too young, 48 to his 56. He wanted to age together with someone. Then he learned she had lied about her age, but he never asked her out again.
- Avoid using the C-word or references to accelerating a relationship too soon. Some men are terrified of commitment, which everyone knows, but after divorce that kind of memory can dim.
- On the other hand, men seem to get scooped up within months of becoming divorced or widowed, so timing is tricky.
- I spent several years with Mr. Wrong and it was a wonderful time. I learned to give up notions I had when I was younger of how someone needed to look or act for me to be attracted. I learned to broaden the narrow universe of available men.
- I weighed the odds. It took going to around 10 singles events to meet one guy I wanted to go out with. Finally I decided I'd rather spend the time going to a movie alone.
- Swing dancing saved me. Just knowing I could go dancing any night of the week gave me a boost. Maybe I'd go once or twice a week. The music, the exercise, the human contact was exhilirating. People were there to dance, so not much for dating opportunities, but doing something I loved was more fun than a mediocre date!
- Every summer I try to take a bike trip. Exercise always elevates the mood. Yoga adds yet another dimension. Being kind to your body helps your soul.
- Going out with couples can be twice the fun.
- Reframing helps. In my case, rather than feeling sorry for myself, I thought about the positives of being able to spend more time with my aging parents. Also I have some treasured friendships that divorce allowed me time to cultivate.
- I compensated for the time my children spent with their dad. For example, I began getting up early so we could all have breakfast together before they went to school (which felt like the 50's, when I was a kid).
- I learned from others. One night I heard Paula Allende on C-Span talking about her daughter Paula, who had died. She referred to the remarkable ability of the human spirit to rise above adversity. Wow, if she could, then so could I. Though of course, the loss of a child is something you never recover from the way you can from a divorce.
- Divorced with kids means "married for life." So if your ex is as devoted to the kids as mine is, then it improves both your and your kids' lives to strive for harmony. We have been taking "family" vacations every summer for around 8 years now. We all look forward to that week.
- Finally, I learned I don't need a man to make me whole, in fact, my newest worry is What if I meet a guy I like? Then what?
What post-divorce lessons have you learned?
For a poignant tale of post-divorce dating, read my article,
"One Woman's Story of Divorce, Downsizing, Dating and Death." and share your thoughts and advice.