Above all, be the heroine, not the victim. - Nora Ephron
It is our choices...that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
- J. K. Rowling
Great post, Bloomsday! Maybe just that I can relate so well, but still a great post!
Take care and have a good weekend!
I have stumbled on a few lessons that seem to work for me. Of course every person, every situation, and every period in one’s life is different. My current thinking may not even work for me in the future depending on who I happen to meet. But these are some thoughts that I have shared with a few recently separated women when we started dating that they found reasonable. First, I honestly explain that while I am interested in a serious relationship if and when one develops - - I don’t plan to spend the rest of my life waiting for something that may or may not happen when I could be enjoying life and the company of smart, fun, interesting, and attractive women. So I tell them that I do plan to date and encourage them to do the same. I also explain that I will not become seriously involved with a woman who has been divorced for less than 2 years, but that I am open to dating a recently separated woman.
Background… in the last few years, I have dated from zero to 4 women simultaneously for periods lasting a few months, to a few years, to indefinitely. They all know that we are not exclusive and each one of these “dating relationships” is naturally at a different point in its lifespan - - beginning, middle, end, and even occasional limbo. Most of the women do not want a serious relationship right now, particularly if they are not even divorced yet. Some are relatively steady dates; others I see twice a month and others every 4 - 6 weeks. Everyone is very busy these days with work, family, other interests, lawyers, money, etc. and may not have a great deal of time to invest in a serious relationship right now. Some women like football, others hate it. Some are available week nights, others only have a weekend or 2 per month free. Some have the summer off while others are busy around the holidays. It actually works out pretty nicely. Everyone appreciates the need to be flexible when plans change at the last minute due to circumstances. Most of these women will eventually meet someone new, or move away, or decide they prefer women, or go into a convent, but I hope all will look back (hopefully fondly) on our dates as a fun and necessary transition period to singlehood. And one special woman just might stick around if we find that we are both at our best when we are together.
I share with them that while I may be open to a serious relationship in the future, I will not become seriously involved with a woman who has been divorced for less than 2 years. The 2 year period can vary depending on the circumstances, how long married, how traumatic the divorce, kids, etc. But 2 years actually seems about right. When I got divorced 6 years ago, I thought I was fine and ready for a new relationship, but it actually took a good 18+ months for me just to become myself again. For newly separated people that were married for many years, raising children, immersed in a particular world of work, friends, routines, obligations, etc. it takes a period of time post-divorce just to find oneself - - to remember who one was before or in addition to all that happened - - to regain one’s equilibrium. Almost no one going through a divorce (infidelity or not) is in a good place. So the idea of becoming serious with someone recently separated just seems nuts. The last thing they need (IMO) is to jump right into another relationship. But that doesn’t mean one has to be a social (or sexual) outcast. Diners, movies, and recreational activities help the healing process and provide something exciting to talk about at work or with friends and family. So it helps keep one’s social web alive and keeps the story of one’s life in motion. Plus, as I mentioned, these are really fun, interesting women - - so I wind up doing all sorts of things that I would not think to do but then find I enjoy. For a first date, one woman wanted to see a Lego museum exhibit… yes, those little blocks that you step on barefooted in the dark and curse at. We had a great day walking and talking and we are still occasionally dating a few years later.
My reasoning for the length of the 2 year post-divorce period is that we all have connections tied to the months, seasons, family events, occasions and holidays during the course of the year. The first post-divorce year is the first time that the woman I’m dating will experience all of those things as a single woman in a long time. The first birthdays, Christmas, school meetings, fund-raisers, vacation, promotion, apartment lease, Super Bowl, etc. The second year is the first time she will do all those things on her own “not-for-the-first-time”. It only makes sense that both she and I would want us to get to know “that woman” before becoming serious.
I will follow up in another post with a few thoughts about sex; no-sex; not-yet-sex; and “sort-of sex” with some of the separated women I have (or am) dating. I can understand the FWB analogy and there may be some truth in that term, but this has proved to be much more varied, interesting, healthy, meaningful, and heartfelt than the FWB label usually implies. In my experience, most women who are in the process (hell) of disengaging from a 20 year marriage are interested in something more or different than a FWB. It is not quite so easy for people to suddenly act like those decades never happened, particularly when it comes to sex.
So very true in my case. Being with a new person after only being with one 100% faithfully for 25 years makes for a very dramatic change, even if you are fully detached... Great observations bloomsday, even if our styles of NB differ.
The cruel, the unkind, those without honor, feast on the tender heart...
I agree staying away from people that are recently separated, as the pain is very fresh...but putting a time limit on healing is different. By the time I file for D, I will have been S for three years. Living on my own for three years, most of it alone and not dating (by my choice). I KNOW I needed to heal, and have a lot to heal from. By the time I AM divorced, I will be further out in the healing than most people "2 years post D". If I am interested in dating a guy and he states he is "separated", I don't automatically turn him down, I ask a few questions that can gauge his healing and wether he is in a similar situation. Also, I live in one of the states that requires a 1 year wait with minor children. Some states you can D quickly, some you cannot.
I for one, can't be in a casual relationship. I envy those that can, but I know myself really well. I joke I was born monogamous. I focus on one person at a time, or none at all. If the guy can't reciprocate, then it ends.
I did try to date a man that was multi-dating. We had frank and open discussions about our different view points. It was kinda cool.
[This message edited by Amazonia at 11:33 AM, August 18th (Sunday)]
The purpose of my post was to point out that for people recently separated, it does not necessarily have to be "serious or nothing". There can be a comfortable middle ground. As a kid, I read Archie comic books (maybe the source of my relaxed thinking about dating relationships). I always wondered how Archie could get away with dating both Betty and Veronica. How could that ever work? Now, years later, I appreciate the maturity that Betty and Veronica demonstrated. They had their whole lives ahead of them. They didn't need a serious relationship at that point. It didn't have to be all or nothing. They just wanted to date and have fun.
If you can do the casual thing and it works for you, that's great. But some people can't. I think most of life is this way - you find what works for you, but everyone is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution.