Tuesday, September 27, 2011

When Never-Marrieds Date the Divorced

Now that I've managed to malign a population of our society... I may as well take a whack at yet another.

You know, I like to think that anyone could be a match... but the fact is  I am looking for a Catholic man and I would prefer that he's not divorced.  But at my age... at least half of the available men are going to be divorced.   So... you know... we must date them.

It's pretty tricky trying to determine from an online profile if a guy is a good candidate to commit to meeting.  Even tricker I think when they're divorced.

First of all, I don't even entertain dating anyone whose status is "separated".   Ahem, I'm a little uncomfortable to point this out but... you are still married. There is no reason for me to get involved.  Quite frankly... I think you ought to be at least two years out of the final divorce proceedings before you date.  Seems to me there is a lot of healing to work through and there's no point dragging someone else into the messiness.   But I think men in particular are not going to wait that long to get back on the scene.  Women tend to know they need healing. Men, in general want to get on with it.

So actually, second is - be healed from your divorce before you date me.

I met a guy a couple weeks ago.  We met for beverages of some sort and talked for quite a while.  I felt that he told me too much about his divorce too soon.  
I mentioned this to a friend who is in the same dating situation as I - and she said she's experienced the alternative... which was the guy hadn't said a word about his divorce until she asked him casually on the fourth date... and he looked shocked and dumbfounded!    That's no good either.  You shouldn't be surprised that it comes up.

In my case, I felt he told me too much about his kids and about their schedules.  (not in a stalker-ish way)  But you barely know me, and I'm here to get to know YOU.  Naturally, your kids are part of your life... yes, tell me about them  - but on the first date that should be limited to a synopsis of their ages, maybe genders, and one or two remarkable things about them (she's a ballerina, loves horses, he's a great soccer player).  You don't have to tell me what you think about their soccer coaches this year, or how much time you spend shuttling them between activities.   I don't need to know that. Yes, I may want to know eventually - but can I please get to you first?
See.. I don't have kids... so quite frankly I can't even relate to getting up early enough to get children to school before the first bell!   By talking about your kids, you've pretty much put me at a loss for words.   Am I supposed to talk about work now?  My car?  My parents?  My condo?
Let's talk about what we love to do.  Hiking, skiing, geo-tracking?  Let's talk about what we'd like to do... you want to visit Italy again... Great, that's the first place on my bucket list!  Let's talk about that!

I guess I do need to know why you got divorced... but please, not too much detail.
She cheated on you?   She up and left?  She never loved you?  You never loved her?  None of it reflects well on you.
Actually, I have a litmus test on this topic, especially if she cheated or initiated the divorce.  I'll ask if it was a complete shock.  Did he think everything in his marriage was just fine and had no idea that anything was wrong or that she was unhappy?  RED FLAG!
My response to that is... "So where were you?"  Was he checked out of the marriage?  Was he content with his needs being met and so never noticed that she was bored, or unfulfilled, or overworked as a mom?
You'd be surprised how many guys say, "Yeah! Total shock!"  That's when I prepare my exit.
I guess the next thing would be to ask what he's learned from his divorce... but that seems like more of a fourth date question... not the first.

See how this is so tricky?

If you're telling me that ALL your friends are getting divorced... that scares me.
Granted, you're going to want to support your friends through the same thing that you went through.  But if you're only associating with other divorced guys... well... that tells me that you think it's okay.  I'd rather hear that you're moved to help them reconcile.  I want to know that divorce was so awful you wouldn't want to wish it on anyone else.  
Maybe I'm too idealistic... but you know what they say, birds of a feather flock together.  If I said all my friends were hoodlums, would you believe that I'm the Mother Theresa trying to straighten them all out - or would you think that maybe I'm a shady character too?
Weird correlation I suppose... but it's reasonable for me to think that if you're only socializing with people in the midst of divorce ... er... that's where you're comfort zone is.
I can see that it's probably different with kids... because you want them to know they're not the only kids in the world with divorced parents.

Sixth.  The future.
This last divorced guy started ticking off qualities that he expected of his next wife.  That's okay for the most part... not ticking them off, but having an idea.   It just felt wrong when I could add up that he was looking for qualities the exact opposite of his ex-wife....  I mean OBVIOUS.  And I've never met her!   To me, that says he thinks it will all work out if he can identify the bugs in a particular model and build his own divorce proof robot.

Granted, I know what qualities I want to avoid in men ( most of which were gleaned from my relationship with Mr. Burns)  but I see it more as being able to identify those qualities and avoid them and not be fooled again.   Not sweeping generalizations... but more about identifying behavior.

Seventh.  More about the future.
This one is pretty specific.  This last guy mentioned (on the first date/meeting mind you!) that if he got married again it would be a casual affair.  In the mountains or on the beach or something.  I replied that I would want a Mass in a Church... the whole Sacrament.  I've been waiting my whole life for this, it's going to be official!   He whimpered a bit and said, "Oh, I can't do that.  I'd have to get an annulment."
"Oh. " I said, "Well, you sort of need one of those to date me in the first place."
He looked at me a bit shocked... crossed with impressed.

See... I'm not playing around.  I'm not going to get involved with someone who isn't going to be serious. In my book, an annulment says your marriage is over and you've done everything you can do to be healed.  You really ought to be healed and ready if you're going to start dating.

What is dating if marriage is not the goal?
That's just setting people up for disappointment.

When I'm looking at profiles, I look for a few specific details, especially in the profiles of divorced guys...  A) Divorced for at least two years B) if they have kids, they have at least 50/50 custody.   A guy who lives more than an hour from children is a flag.  I have no interest in a guy who has abandoned his children, even if it would be easier on me! C) That he might be open to having more children.  Obviously, I may not be able to have kids of my own, but I'd like the guy to be open to it - we should be at a similar starting point and let God sort it out.

I know Divorced folks have their opinions on dating the Never-Married as well....  and it's true, we come from completely different worlds.
Often the divorced married right out college and have never been alone...  and for the never-married... the exact opposite.    Different worlds.

What's your experience?

No comments: