Thoughts on Divorce and Dating

I think I’m about as ready to date again as I’ll ever be. I have no dating prospects at the moment and I don’t know when that will change, but I’m not in a hurry; to hurry would be probably the biggest mistake I could make right now. I remember talking to my neighbor (the one a few doors down from me when I lived on Little Crazy Street) in the early days of my separation, and she said when she and her first husband divorced, she found somebody else as fast as she could. While I miss being part of a couple, I think it’s important to look hard around at myself, at my life, and the people around me as I deal with this change in circumstances. I need the freedom to move slowly as I choose my future direction.

I have been more actively spending time on OKCupid lately, and have sent messages to a few potentially interesting guys. I don’t have the problem the internet tells me a lot of girls have, with too many guys sending me messages. On the other hand, most of the messages I have received are not creepy (the opposite of what most girls seem to experience). I’ve only messaged back and forth with one person so far– a guy who lives in a town three or four hours away from where I live. He initiated contact, and he sounded interesting (single dad and hiking fan) but we live too far away for dating to make sense. I’ve gotten a few messages from other people I have not responded to for one reason or another (hints of homophobia in their profile or other deal-breakers). I have also sent messages to several people who have not responded to me. Maybe I’m not pretty/fashionable enough? I’m in possession of a kid and therefore unappealing? I don’t know, but I’m not upset. Online dating may or may not lead anywhere, but it has certainly made me think about what I want in a potential partner. The algorithm OKCupid uses to determine whether you are a good “match” with somebody is laughable, but the shared quiz question feature is really enlightening and useful.

These are the things I am looking for in a potential partner:

  • Likes kids (duh) and animals, specifically dogs (bonus if they have dogs or kids and seem to be responsibly and contentedly caring for either/both already — I sometimes wonder about the 35-40 year-old guys who have no responsibilities to speak of but say they would “consider” having kids. J was willing to consider the idea herself, but she was incredibly immature when it came to accepting the reality of parental responsibilities when it landed in her lap).
  • Likes hiking and makes physical activity / getting outside a priority in life (and is generally fit — though for me fit does not have to mean especially photogenic. I like the nerdy and quirky looking dudes, usually).
  • Is not very (or at all) religious or conservative. Conservatism these days is so often tied in with with racism, xenophobia, and anti-LGBT sentiments. My kid has a transgender parent and I am not religious. Those are pretty definitive features of my personal landscape.
  • Is not a cheater. This may seem like something you wouldn’t be able to discern from a dating site, and maybe it isn’t, but in the quiz questions on OKCupid some guys freely admit they have had relationships with married people, or admit they think it is okay to cuddle / sleep in a bed with somebody of the gender they are attracted to who is not their partner.
  • Doesn’t do drugs or smoke, and is not a big drinker.
  • At this point I am also not willing to date anybody who has some big unusual thing they are dealing with. While I was once willing to embrace the idea of having a transgender spouse, I’m not ready to date a transgender person again. And I veer away from even the nicest-sounding guy who says he has an issue like PTSD, even if it is well-managed. It may be… But I don’t want those kinds of complications in my life in addition to everything else. Not right now. Maybe not ever.

There are other things that are not as important: I personally dislike watching sports and listening to rap or r&b. I don’t feel comfortable around guns. I don’t like clubbing or motorcycles or ATVs. I do like NPR and audio books and musicals. I will never be an adrenaline junky (I would willingly go rock climbing, but I will likely never consider myself a “rock climber,” opting quite happily to watch the more difficult stuff from below). I think softball and baseball are the most boring sports to play, ever.

So, that’s out there. At least as an idea, anyway, and I am glad that I know what is important to me. I still struggle with my sadness about J and wonder when my feelings surrounding her will be less raw. I miss the adventures we had together. I miss the friendship we had. I feel so angry she threw so many valuable things away, even while I can also (more often) feel calm about her decision. Last week we had to go to a meeting and sign some paperwork concerning Little Man, and afterwards, because it was the middle of the day and the kiddo was still at daycare, we sat at a diner together and shared some french fries and onion rings. It was almost like being friends again. Then this weekend, when we were planning to go to a Halloween event together with our kid (one that involved a 40 minute drive), J was unwilling to carpool with me at first, because it was with me. Those little things sting, because strangers and acquaintances carpool together when they are going to participate in events together. So often, J treats strangers and acquaintances with more kindness than she treats me. She has blown off plans we’ve made so many times this last year. It’s a little better now, but not entirely, and I’m tired of it. I know she is struggling. She has told me she wants to draw a line between the past and the present, because she still is grieving over what we once had. I get that. I understand wanting to behave appropriately to our new roles. But I continue to see and realize how careless she is towards me in her actions, and it is both disappointing and something I have to protect myself from. When I don’t think of her as a friend, her actions sting less. When I begin to think we are acting something like friends again, her carelessness really hurts. The best way to deal with J is to think of her as a child — Somebody who causes hurt because she is immature and doesn’t know how to behave better. Thinking of her that way helps me shrug off the sting and look toward the future, my future, rather than back at our shared past.

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