It’s with great regret that I’m writing this column from experience. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret getting divorced. No, that was a good thing — the right thing. However, I do regret having to drag my two girls through the emotional turmoil caused by the break-up of the family. Let’s keep it real.
The process of divorce sucks. And ours wasn’t even a contentious one. This was just a relationship that after ten years had run its course. Now what happens to most of us, speaking strictly from the guy’s perspective here, is we vow to “never get married again!” Then we spend the next two years chasing around women like we’re teenagers. But that lifestyle gets old when we realize one late night while we’re twerking in the club, “Oh my god, everyone in here is under twenty-five. I’M THE OLD MAN AT THE CLUB!” None of us wants to be ‘The Old Man At The Club.’
So we start seriously dating again — now open to the possibility of finding true and lasting love…again. For real this time. No seriously. We’ve learned vital life lessons and we plan on applying the new knowledge to making the next one work. I’ve since remarried (I think I got it right this time) but there was a ten-year period where I was the Divorced Dad Dating (DDD), and this made for some tricky moments. Women don’t really know how to date us. So allow me to toss a few knowledge grenades in the direction of those currently or potentially open to dating one of “us.”
1. Be present. He’s divorced. You’ve decided to date him nonetheless. So focus on that. Don’t put your new relationship behind the eight-ball by living in his past. It gets you nowhere. Don’t go trying to compare the way he was with her with the way he is with you. It’s not a contest.
2. Check your baggage. For the love of whatever deity you hold dear, leave your baggage out of the relationship as much as you can. It’s not easy. We’ve all lived a little, but if you’re still wrapping gauze around a wounded heart, you’re going nowhere fast. Same applies to him. The moment you get a whiff of residual hang-ups from the last chick, say, “Thanks but no thanks” and keep it moving.
3. Respect the kids. He may have kids. Once you decide that you’re okay with that, then you should really be okay with that. Newsflash; those kids aren’t going anywhere, so this is a package deal. And whatever you do, don’t try to be the child’s mother. Don’t try to compete or make disparaging remarks about the kid’s mom. Try being the cool aunt. And don’t give the guy a hard time about how much time he may or may not be spending with his children. You may be right. You could be wrong. But you will NEVER WIN. Don’t try to push this issue; just throw this one into the loss column.
4. Don’t rush it. In many cases folks make the mistake of trying to time stamp their relationships mainly because of a sense of urgency related to getting older. Either they want to hurry into something heavy prematurely, or they put the brakes on for fear of moving too fast, even though both parties feel the same intense bond. I think you feel what you feel when you feel it. At a certain point in life, you know what you want out of your partner…and what you don’t want in your partner. Why play games? The divorced guy is in a position where he’s been through enough to know what he wants to do with or without you – sometimes fairly quickly.
5. Understand that money could be an issue. Just accept it. Alimony and child support are not small tickets items. They’re real expenses. Many women forget this or they resent this. It’s a selfish mindset, but it does occur. “He can’t take me on vacation or to dinner because half of his earnings are going to his ex!” Yeah, that’s probably true. If that’s a problem for you, find another guy. But don’t voice that complaint to him. You’ll sound selfish and shallow…because you’re selfish and shallow.