My ex was tall and dark – definitely my physical “type.” When I began to date after divorce, I saw no reason to change that habit.
My ex was highly intelligent. I’ve always dated intelligent men (or I’m wildly terribly abysmally B-O-R-E-D. After all, the brain is the sexiest organ we have.) My ex was also multilingual – et moi aussi – and there, too, I saw no reason to alter those preferences.
My ex had a quirky sense of humor, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Why wouldn’t I be happy to run across a man who could make me laugh?
Dating After Divorce… Detours
Naturally, I diverged from type and explored – in part because I thought it would do no harm, and also, after kids and divorce (not to mention 13 years with one man), I thought it made sense to try something different.
So I dated all sorts of guys – tall and short, dark and fair, as “American as apple pie” (unusual for me), and oh by the way, on two sides of the Atlantic. That in itself is another story… une autre histoire… or the stuff of another genre altogether.
There were detours along the way, of course: Love with a Lethario, Chapters 1, 2, and 3 followed by a (briefly) broken heart; Sympatico with Someone-Akin-to-a-Saint, which has many a drawback; even a few dates around town with a Man Rather Well Known. Eeeesh! It was awful! (Not him, but the situation.) That, I quickly decided, I couldn’t stand. (I cherish my privacy In Real Life; that he was recognized everywhere we went and approached was NFW – No Fun Whatsoever.)
Tall, Dark, and Narcissistic?
And after unwittingly finding myself attracted to semi-controlling narcissistic-leaning Tall, Dark, Intelligent men, I sought out those who were more soft-spoken, good listeners, and didn’t seem to need any chest-puffery or horn-blowing.
When it came to professions, the Ex Factor wasn’t a factor at all. Though I dated business guys, doctors, and lawyers more often than not, that was purely a function of who wanted to date me.
Over 45 and online dating? It’s definitely a (male) buyer’s market.
While I didn’t care much what a man did for a living, I did care how much time he might be around. (No Genius Brain Surgeons On Call 24/7, thank you very much.) And, I cared what sort of father he was to his own kids, assuming he had some. In both of those arenas, I wanted a lover, a friend, a partner who was more available than my ex had been – in all ways.
The fact is, I have compared many of the men I’ve dated to the one I married once upon a time. Not in the way that people assume – as if others can’t “measure up” – but rather, acutely aware of the aspects of his character, personality, beliefs and behaviors that worked wonderfully for me (and vice versa), as well as those that most certainly did not.
Dating Deal Breakers
The height thing?
Sure. Guys who are six feet tall are great. But so are guys who are 5’8″ and 5’5″ and 5’2… and so on. Am I still more attracted to a man who is considerably taller than I am? Yes, indeed, but hovering at 5′ tall myself, do I really need to be holding out for my own personal André the Giant?
The smart thing, the humor thing, the language thing – those are more key to me than I ever realized. Those are fundamental elements of who I am. To pair off (other than casually) with a man who doesn’t bring the Smarts, the Funnies and the French is a poor fit… period.
But what really mattered?
I was married to a man who was emotionally distant (at least, with me), by nature argumentative (can you spell “hot seat?”), and fairly self-absorbed. I know, I know… But I remain convinced there are good men who do know how to ask a woman about her day, her thoughts, her career, her feelings… especially after she’s asked him about his.
Comparisons Can Be Helpful
We should never permit someone we care about to feel compared to an ex (or anyone else, for that matter). So if we’re dating someone now? Early in the relationship or well along the established path, don’t drop tidbits about a former hubby’s earning power or your last lover’s prowess in bed!
Seriously, would you like to hear details of the ex-wife’s seductive skills?
And for those who play mind games and try to use an ex to make their current man jealous, I say you’re mucking around in dangerous (and hurtful) territory.
That said, comparisons to an ex can be very useful. When we pay attention to what we enjoy about a former spouse or lover, we know to look for it again or appreciate it when we encounter it. If we learn from our mistakes (those narcissistic, value-based, behavioral and other red flags) – yelling, drinking, sulking, manipulating – we know to steer clear.
And as I continue to compare (not intentionally, mind you), it’s in the best possible way as I realize the depth of emotional bond in my current relationship – shared laughter, real communication, so many fewer walls.
And no – he’s not tall, he’s not dark – but he’s smart and funny as hell. And yes, il parle français.