I was reading an old article by a woman in the New York Times that was written in 2012 about men after divorce, and their rush to remarry. It was an interesting take on the various reasons she listed, all along the vein of “men just can’t be alone”.
She cited that men after a breakup or divorce are unable to live alone for any longer than about 3 months. Whereas women are completely able to carry on alone and in fact really love their newly adopted independent lives. I then proceeded to read the comments left. Women responded in resounding agreement with the authors citing’s.
Men? Well not so much.
Relationships after Divorce
I soon found myself somewhat mesmerized with her findings and started to think how they aligned with my reasons for not remarrying after my divorce twenty years ago. My initial thought was, hello….when I became a divorced woman I was also a single parent of an infant and a toddler. How in the world would I ever be able to focus on any other relationship other than taking care of my children?
M&Ms and Sex in the City
The only relationship I had going when I was alone was with a bag of peanut M&M’s while watching Sex in the City! And yes, that was the case for many years.
However, I did manage to squeeze a relationship or three in. All of which were men who were recently divorced. And as I type this, I take a deep breath, roll my eyes, and throw my head back on the pillow as I realize that all three of these men have moved on and are either remarried or in long-term relationships.
I, however, remain single. And I am still courting that bag of Peanut M&M’s!
Take my ex-husband for example. He and I were married for almost 14 years. We had two children together and were building a new home. However, he was overwhelmed with marriage and life when he decided to take his exit so he could be with another woman. Believe me, at that time, I was as overwhelmed with life as he was!
In fact, I can safely say that I was indeed more overwhelmed. I was working full time, had a toddler, was pregnant, and building a new home all at the same time. The pinnacle to all this was that shortly after the baby was born, he left. I don’t think he really thought any of it through. There was no real plan in his head at that time to make his departure. I just happened to find out about the affair, as I had a few years earlier.
This time I showed him the door…and he ran to it! Free from the daily responsibilities of a family from that day forward.
Living alone, for him… was never an option.
Though I wish he would have done just that. I mean, take time, and figure yourself out before you go buy that red Ferrari! Maybe he could have learned why infidelity was such a part of his life for so long. And why he felt compelled to introduce it into my life too. Why he was unhappy, which made me unhappy. The prospect of him analyzing his motives may have intrigued him in the beginning because I do believe he sought therapy. But the feeling of being alone was more than he could bare.
He ended up leaving his life almost entirely which included most of his friends and family, and he married the woman in waiting. Lifting himself out of one life and placing himself squarely behind the wheel of an already idling car. That overwhelming scream of fear from within his soul was more powerful than anything. I’m not sure he ever really improved what was stirring in his soul by marrying that woman, but in all honesty, I do hope so. I would hate to have gone through all that we did for yet another one of his disposal relationships.
When the wrong people leave your life, the right things start to happen.
The first man I dated after my divorce was wonderful. He had four sons of his own and he really was a good man and a wonderful father. We dated on and off for about 5 years. He had been married for 18 years and like me was finding his way through the weeds of being a single parent and trying to figure out the inner workings of a new relationship. As we chalked up the years of our relationship we both found that we were growing at a different pace.
Though I had two small children, the voice in my head was always whispering new ideas and opportunities to grow. I was advancing my career too. I had to. I had a family to raise. Because of this, he became less and less important. Or so he felt, and he accused me of being an overachiever. He wanted a home-grown woman who didn’t want to aspire to anything but a cheerleader with the letter of his first name on her chest.
When we argued he would tell me that he would never ever be alone. He was right too. He met an old acquaintance at his high school reunion and thus, found a woman who was far better suited to his needs than I could offer him.
We didn’t part ways with any aggression or anger. We just silently left the table. We promised each other that we would tell one another if we ever did get remarried. They dated a while and he told me that though he was in a relationship he didn’t want to get remarried. A couple of years ago, I heard through the coconut wireless, that he had indeed married her. He was right. He would never be alone.
Never let an old flame burn you twice.
The second relationship I was in was an odd one. He had been married twice already and had a million flings. I had no idea why I was even remotely drawn to this man. He was a player, and I hated players. But what intrigued me was how smart he was. Not to mention incredibly handsome. I never really invested in this man, but he was fun. We both knew that what I wanted in a relationship was a far cry from what he wanted in a relationship.
We remained friends on the sidelines and checked in with each other over the course of many years. He always had a woman or two on the line. He had one woman for many years too. He even moved to another state for her. Only to find that he couldn’t quite make the final commitment. He even tried many times to rekindle the subject of the two of us coming together again, but I had moved on from that and I knew it was because he was just lonely. That wasn’t a good enough reason for me. That is no motivation for two people to be in a relationship no matter how shallow it is. At last siting, he had found someone new. Good on him!
Everyone comes with baggage. Find someone who loves you enough to help you unpack.
The last man I dated was very interesting. He was Russian, brilliant, successful, and a lovely man. He was separated and going through a divorce and he had baggage to deal with. He was kind, and his ex-wife was quite needy, and it was hard to listen to her demands on him, which seemed to confuse him. He always told me that he felt trapped in his marriage for years.
I knew he needed to spread his wings and discover women in general! I had been farther down the road of being single and that feeling had passed me a long time ago. I was right too. He has indeed experienced new relationships and has started a new life in another city. He is the anomaly in this though. I don’t think he was a man that couldn’t be alone. On the contrary, I think he was fine in his own company. Let’s just say he was more evolved than the other people I had previously known. But in the end, I think he knows he doesn’t like being solo and that’s okay. He is a good man and will be a catch for someone one day!
Ordinary men hate solitude. But the master makes use of it, embracing his aloneness, realizing he is one with the whole universe. Lao Tzu
So this brings me back to the New York Times article I read. It cited that women like their independence as a whole. Of course, we single divorced women suffer twinges of loneliness from time to time. I know I do. But what I love most is that I know I can do what I want, when I want. If I can afford it, I buy it! And I seek my own counsel and permission in doing so.
I have spread my wings into so many things that I would never have done before my divorce. I am also far more interesting than the married woman I once was. That woman has left the planet, let alone the building. And I enthusiastically waved her goodbye!
Do I worry about what my life will look like if I am single when I am old and no longer able to work? Yes, I do. I think about who will take care of me when I am old or if I get sick. I have encouraged my children their whole lives to reach for the stars and stretch to be all that they can be. They cannot unlearn these tenants I have taught them. And this may indeed take them to places that I won’t live nearby. So there is some trepidation in me and that is fine. I can handle this phase too. I have to.
My final take on the subject of men vs women after divorce.
My jury is out as to whether it takes more courage to remain alone or if it takes more courage to take a chance on love again. I suppose it’s all rather subjective. I like that I am in the middle on the subject too. I remain cautiously optimistic about the possibility of a future relationship, but I am okay in my own company if it doesn’t happen. That’s actually a very healthy feeling I must say!
It took me a while to get here, but I did! And what I have learned is that it’s okay if men are more prone to remarriage at a faster rate. There is no shame in wanting to share your life with someone. Just make sure it’s for the right reasons so that you never have to deal with divorce again. Just find someone that makes you happy. And be equally okay if that person happens to be you!