“This I know for sure … I am not interested in dating anyone who has been divorced.”
I will never forget having lunch with a colleague several years ago who had recently wrapped up a painful divorce. We were talking about re-entering the dating scene, and she was sharing with me some of the things she was looking for in an ideal man. She wanted someone who was between 45-55 years old, and then listed a few other qualities and traits that were important to her … then she dropped this requirement on me, “This I know for sure … I am not interested in dating anyone who has been divorced.”
My initial response was one of shock, and I asked, “Why would you want to date a man who has never been married before? Wouldn’t you wonder why he hadn’t married by age 45 or 55?” Now, I recognize that is very narrow thinking, but in honesty, that was my first reaction. What followed was a really great discussion about the perceived pros and cons of dating (or potentially marrying) someone who had never been married before, versus someone who had gone through a divorce.
Was it “better” to have someone who understood what marriage was all about and was familiar with all of the compromises, the peaks and the valleys? Was it “better” to have someone who may likely already have children? Was it “better” to have someone who had lived as part of a couple before? Or, was it “better” to have someone who hadn’t been through the negative parts of marriage and divorce, someone who might not potentially be coming in with lots of baggage and chips on his shoulder? Would someone who had never been married be able to adjust to sharing his life with someone else? People are pretty set in their ways, especially by age 50. Would it be difficult to adapt and compromise? We didn’t have any answers, but we had a great dialogue about the perceived pros and cons.
At the same time, I think we were both astute enough to recognize that we were making complete assumptions based on stereotypes. Of course, we realized that every situation is unique, and every individual brings their own perspective to a relationship regardless of whether they are previously divorced or perpetually single!
I had a similar conversation with a new friend last weekend. She just turned 50, has never married, and we were talking about the dating scene. I asked her if she had a preference for dating someone who had been divorced, or had never married. Her response was interesting. She said she has absolutely no preference one way or the other. But, she did say as someone who has never been married, she wonders if men might assume that she is too set in her ways to change much if a partnership were to develop. She wonders if they question why she has never married. She even admitted that she likes certain aspects of her independent life. She laughed and said, “I like that I can decide to have a bowl of cereal for dinner if I feel like it without worrying about having to cook or eat a ‘real’ dinner.”
At the end of the day, she said, she doesn’t have any preconceived notions about what kind of man she would most like to date. She said divorced or never married doesn’t matter to her. She said ethnicity doesn’t matter. She said age doesn’t matter. What is important is sharing a common religion and having someone who can keep up with her active lifestyle! She pointed out that one’s prior marital status is completely irrelevant to the things she deems most important. I told her I would keep my ears open for someone who might be a great match for her!
Going back to the colleague I mentioned earlier — oh the irony! She met a wonderful man a couple of years later who swept her off her feet! They have since married … and guess what? He was divorced when they met!
What’s the moral of this story? While we may have an idea of what is important to us, the reality is we that have to be flexible and open to having our preconceived notions change or we might miss out on meeting, dating, or even marrying, a really fabulous person! I’m glad my husband didn’t have blinders on when we met. If he had said he wasn’t interested in dating an older woman with two kids, we wouldn’t have just celebrated four fabulous years of marriage!
What constraints are you putting on your dating? Are they the really important factors, or just some preconceived notion based on stereotypes? At the end of the day, what’s really important to you? Are you flexible to thinking outside your “usual” specs? You might be pleasantly surprised!
Author Monique A. Honaman wrote “The High Road Has Less Traffic: honest advice on the path through love and divorce” in response to a need for a book that provided honest, real, and raw advice about how to survive and thrive through one of life’s toughest journeys.