One night, a few years ago, I went to a party for a professional organization I am a member of. Most people there were getting pretty drunk, feeling the effects of the lousy economy. I saw an old friend of mine, someone I hadn’t seen in many years. He flirted with me and told me, “I’m married and I’m miserable. I hate my wife and I hate my life.” I was a bit shocked at his honesty, but I had to admit I wasn’t particularly happy either. He also told me that he’d had a crush on me when we were young — would I have dated him back then? I lied and said, “Oh, yes. I would have dated you.” Truthfully, I wasn’t particularly interested in him way back then. But now, he had evolved into a mature, attractive man, with a lovely sense of humor, and I was interested. In fact, I went home and had my first erotic dream in a long time — and it was about him.
Two years later we were both divorced. Are we happier divorced? Yes, at least I know I am. Has he asked me out on a date? No. But I haven’t asked him either. I have flirted with him and though it would make such a great Hollywood story if we did hook up, life isn’t all Hollywood, is it? The point is, we were both miserable and we had the courage and honesty to do something about it.
I don’t know if he initiated his divorce or his wife did. In my case, I was the first one to point out that the patient (our marriage) was on life support and barely alive and then a few months later, it was my husband who pulled the plug. Excellent teamwork, I have to admit.
We actually were a great team on some levels, we functioned well in so many ways. But there were simply too many losses, we were the Buffalo Bills of marriage. One damn loss after another. It was as if life was saying, “Just because you’ve suited up for so long doesn’t mean you have to stay in the game. Run! Get out of there! You’re dying inside.”
So I thought, well, if I can have so much fun flirting at that party there must be hundreds of interesting men out there. And there are, probably hundreds of thousands, in the tri-state area alone. But finding one that I actually want to spend time with, talk to, sleep with, and forsaking all others for — that’s a different matter.
A friend of mine, in her 50s and never married, told me her theory about dating men over 50. Once the need to procreate is past, they are in no rush to get married. And from my own research — neither are millions of women. I’m reading a book called Sex at Dawn and one of its main points is that we are truly meant to be promiscuous, so what’s the rush to find Mr. or Ms. Right? (Who, in fact, really don’t exist.) What’s the rush to cook, clean, shop, spend all your time with one person? Once your kids are grown, it’s actually quite nice to do whatever the hell you want to do.
The truth is, I like being single and I certainly don’t want to settle for someone unless I totally adore him and he totally adores me. I believe that is possible. I know that is what I would want next time around.
I do know women who dated like mad after their divorce and met lots of men online and slept with most of them and then eventually, after a couple of years, got married. Well, I know one woman. But she is very happy and she said the guy she married was nothing like she imagined he would be and it’s all worked out beautifully.
Sometimes I think that like everything else in my life, when the time is right, when it’s supposed to happen, it will happen. My mate will materialize. I may have to do the work: go online, talk on the phone, go out for coffees, dinners, walks in the park, send emails and texts (just thinking about all of this makes me want to lie down).
Then again my neighbor reads Tarot cards and the cards say, “You know him already. He’s someone you’ve known for a long time.” So I look at every man I know and I think, “Is it you? Is it you?” So far it isn’t him.
I have male friends I adore. But moving from the friend category to the lover/partner category is fraught with danger. I see a big X when I think about attempting that with any of my lovely men friends.
I did have love after my divorce. I met D at a grief group (he’d lost his brother and his dad, I’d lost my mother). We became best friends and hung out all the time and watched movies, and talked and we were inseparable. He wanted it to be more and I knew it wasn’t supposed to be a relationship relationship. I just wasn’t ready. My heart was pretty shut down after my divorce and I cared too much for him to just fool around. I met some men online and fooled around with them — they were lovely, but unavailable, both by time and inclination. My friend D started dating one of my best friends, P, and that nearly killed me. It nearly killed her too because it didn’t last and everyone’s heart was a tiny bit shattered.
Now D is with the perfect woman for him, L — I love her almost as much as I love him. We go to Sunday night movies together as a group –sometimes the three of us, sometimes with other friends from the alphabet. I still love him deeply and I know he loves me too.
So where is Mr. Next Guy? Beats me. But truthfully, I know he’s coming. One of these days. Maybe it will be at another party and someone will say, “I had a crush on you back in 1983…would you have gone out with me then?”
And maybe I’ll have the courage to say, “No, probably not in 1983, but I definitely would now, in 2013.”