I am thrilled to introduce our newest blogger, author Monique A. Honaman, who wrote “The High Road Has Less Traffic: honest advice on the path through love and divorce.” She will be contributing her insights here regularly — and starts today with interesting observations about what baggage (risks!) we bring to the relationship table.
“I’m not cynical about marriage or romance. I enjoyed being married. And although being single was fun for a while, there was always the risk of dating someone who’d owned a lunch box with my picture on it.” Shaun Cassidy
I saw this quote, and I laughed out loud. I think it hit too close to home. While I never owned a Shaun Cassidy lunch box (my mom made me carry my lunch in those little brown bags!), I did have posters of him hanging all over my room. His album was the first one I ever bought! The year was 1977. I paid $4.97, and I thought “Da Doo Ron Ron” was the best song ever! What was I thinking?
Dating someone who used to own a lunch box with your picture on it is something that most of us can’t relate to. That’s a 1970’s Shaun Cassidy, BeeGees, or Osmond brother kind of problem. The rest of us never have to worry about dating someone who carried their PB&J’s and Hostess Twinkies to school each day in a metal box bearing our likeness. But, that doesn’t mean the rest of us don’t have other risks associated with dating!
As I was flying back from Miami a few weeks ago, I got into a conversation with the woman sitting next to me. As the conversation progressed, I mentioned that I had been divorced, and was now remarried. That opened the floodgates of conversation. She immediately opened up and started talking a mile a minute. Like me, she was also divorced (and had been for nearly 5 years). She was in her mid-40’s, and she was incredibly frustrated with the dating scene and never finding “Mr. Right.”
As she and I began to talk, I got an earful of not only how bad so many of her previous dates had been, but also how horrible her ex-husband was. I got a play-by-play of negativity and sarcasm. It seemed nobody could do anything right, and yet she seemed genuinely surprised when she told me that she wasn’t frequently asked to go out on a second date or third date. Seriously?
This presented a dilemma for me. Did I call her out and suggest that perhaps she wasn’t asked out again because it wasn’t fun to be surrounded by all that negativity on a first date (or a second or third)? Or, was this an instance where I should keep my mouth shut? Aw heck … I was never going to see her again, and perhaps it was destiny that we had come to sit next to each other on this flight. I broached the subject … very carefully!
I asked her how long ago it had been since her divorce. She reminded me that it had been nearly five years. I knew that … I just wanted her to hear it again. Five years! Half a decade! And yet, she was still angry at her ex-husband and still full of negativity. When she spoke about him, you could feel the hatred radiate from her.
If I was feeling this much negativity in just our short conversation on our flight, I wondered how much her dates were picking up from her when they went out. I asked her what she found most attractive in a man, and she provided me with a litany of great traits – funny, kind, good to his mom, had to make her laugh, healthy (she said good looking was a bonus!). Never once did she say negative, sarcastic, or pessimistic. I asked her why, and she seemed surprised. “Why would I want to date someone who was negative?” she asked.
I carefully suggested that perhaps it was time to lose her own anger and the negativity over her ex-husband, and time to make a commitment that he would not be mentioned on future dates, no matter how interested or willing the other person was to discuss what had happened. It really can’t be any fun to date someone who is continuing to bash her ex. It also would make me wonder if there is still too much emotion tied up there, leaving her less emotionally available for someone else. It also comes off as pretty ugly behavior to not be able to let go of the past — especially on a date.
Once I got home, I asked one of my good friends for his take on this subject. He’s in the dating pool, and he said if anyone he dates dominates the conversation bad-mouthing an ex, he tends to end the date relatively quickly, and there is no second date to be had. His rule was this: First dates should be for getting to know each other. Sure, maybe a history of a past relationship will come out later (and if it was negative and hurtful, that is part of the story, and may/should come out), but save that for after the first date, and even then, discuss it, then move on. Don’t harp on it. I thought that was pretty good advice. He added this point: “Even the most attractive woman — in both looks and personality — can turn ugly if all she does is use our date to complain about other men.”
It became clear to me. This negativity was her “risk,” or rather, this was the “risk” that men were taking when asking her out on a date. Shaun Cassidy risked dating women who had his photo on their lunchbox. My flight-mate risked turning off the very men she wanted to get to know better by focusing too much on negativity in relationships from her past. I think she intellectually understood this paradox when we spoke, and she agreed to try to work on it.
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.