“Are you dating anyone?”
“Is there someone special in your life?”
“Are you planning to marry again?”
These are all questions I get asked regularly, and there really isn’t ever a satisfying answer for any of them.
Dating. For many, it’s the bane of our existence. For others it’s a pastime, a fun exercise in “Social Skills 101” that just might lead to that fairytale ending older generations mistakenly promised us. Either way, dating after divorce is nothing short of complicated.
Which Are You?
There are two kinds of women in the world. Woman #1 loves love. She thinks of her immediate future, and images of “the one” appear along with impossibly perfect date ideas accompanied by idyllic weather and diamond rings.
Then there’s Woman #2. She’s the one you can’t always figure out. Her previous experiences in life and love color her more realistic expectations, and she isn’t concerned with the social norms that seek to govern relationship law. Woman #2 thinks of the future and imagines happiness and contentment. Neither of those has a requirement of VVS stones.
If we’re honest, most of us have been both of these women at some stage in our lives. Currently, I’m much more Woman #2 than Woman #1, and I’ll tell you exactly why that matters in this blog.
Dating After Divorce
Dating after divorce and dating as a single mom is a journey unlike any other. It feels like learning a new language. The whole world just sort of shifted while I was married. It’s now a universe full of apps like Tinder and Bumble, and a million other super secret complex portals that lead to… endless stressful dates that one must spend hours getting ready for, night after night after night! AHH!!!
Okay. That’s maybe a stretch, but let’s take a beat and dissect this dating after divorce thing honestly for a second. I’m a single mom of two energetic boys. I own and operate my own interior design business. I have a million things pulling me in a thousand directions, and I’m tired. An average day in the life of Breegan Jane might mean being onsite for hours, selecting stone for a property and then wiping a toddler’s butt. I’m supposed to accomplish all of that, and then go on an interview disguised as a first date to find someone I might want to make-out with?
Woman #1 is ready, willing and able with polished nails and coiffed hair, and she’s excited to meet someone new and gauge compatibility. I, on the other hand, do not have time or energy for multiple meaningless dates, so I decided that something needed to change in this stage of my life.
Redefining My Wants
A closer look at my feelings revealed that much of the pressure I was experiencing originated from societal norms and expectations. I had internalized the idea that I was supposed to want to date right now and find another husband. That is the furthest thing from my mind, so instead of interpreting my contrasting feelings as flawed, I decided to examine what it was that I truly desired. I wanted companionship.
I wanted an interaction with someone that was significant, but didn’t involve the introduction of my children or the promise of wedded bliss. That type of relationship isn’t always easily categorized. There isn’t a label for it, and outsiders have a hard time understanding and accepting it for exactly what it is. Even so, it’s what works for my life right now.
It’s My Party and I’ll Date If I Want To
Wanting a meaningful relationship doesn’t mean that I have to force myself to be more ready than I actually am. Right now, in this emotional space and stage in my life, I am deserving of the love or “like” or intimacy that I want. None of that has to be limited by a definition for the comfort of others.
I am allowed to show up and ask for what I want with my boundaries in place. I can spend time with someone I care about and still not want to commit to an ultra long-term situation with them. It can get tricky. After all, it necessitates a lot on the part of the other person in the relationship. I can communicate feelings like “I’m open to the possibility of love,” but my intention is never to give false hope. Either the person can handle that or they can’t.
Dating after divorce as a single mom means that I’m half in and half out 100% of the time. That makes for a complex interaction, but my life is far beyond busy these days. Choosing to spend it with someone I desire companionship with means sacrificing in some other area. If we’re hanging out regularly, you can be assured that it’s the highest compliment I could ever give. Life isn’t always a party, but it is the main event for you and me. We have to be selective about how we spend it.
Making Our Own Rules
Family members will always want to envision your happily ever after. Friends will always insist on turning fun outings into a double date when you’d be perfectly content as a “third wheel.” Humans are biologically predisposed to wanting to categorize everything. We can’t get away from that. We can, however, live life on our own terms.
Listen, single mom or divorced woman: whatever your evolution looks like, however you choose to ease back into the world of dating, is fine. Your fairytale ending, or beginning, or present may be a story that hasn’t yet been written. And that’s okay. Shut off the flow of external pressures, and start dating in a way that feels right and comfortable for you. In the end, you write the rules. Your happiness depends on it.