An Open Letter to Divorced Men
A few weeks ago I began dating again after a difficult break up with my ex-boyfriend. After taking a 3 month hiatus and spending time focusing on myself and uncovering areas inside of me that prevent me from finding the right man, I was ready to start meeting new men.
Scared, cautiously optimistic and anxious…. I quickly found myself being fixed up with friends of friends and on numerous dating sites in an effort to put to practice what I spent 3 months working on (more on my 3 month dating program to come). In the handfuls of men I have spoken to and/or met, I have found a very ugly and common occurrence that I feel compelled to share.
This is to all the divorced men out there who are dating women:
Guys, let me tell you, we ALL have a story. We single moms have been through a lot- motherhood, friendships, heart breaks… the whole nine yards. We also know you have a story! And we know eventually that story will unfold over some drinks, dinners, whatever. The reason we are divorced is because somewhere along the line we ended up in a relationship with someone who was not “The One”. Yes, we can probably all agree it was the single worst disappointment in our adult lives that affected us in ways only divorced people can relate to which is why dating someone that has already been through a divorce is often comforting.
When I accept an invitation to go out with you, it means I feel you are worth exploring. It means I have already gotten a vibe and feel it is worth my (precious and limited) time to meet you. As a single mom, making such time is not always easy so I select my dates with consideration.
When we go out and have a drink and get loosened up, the conversation flows. I am not just listening to “what” you are saying, but I am reading your nonverbal cues as well. I was taught to do that… I watch your eyes and your smile when you talk about your kids. I am aware of you touching my leg, my arm, my hand while you share your dreams for the future and talk about having a partner in crime to live that dream with. I am listening to your tone and I am focused on your character, your humor, your body language. I can be falling in love with you and you wouldn’t know it. Then you will be asked a question by me and your response is all-telling in my book….. “How is your relationship with your ex wife?” This question alone tells me what I need to know and will determine if you are awarded date #2. And here’s what I have found…. MOST of the men I have met will tell me the following:
“She’s got mental issues.”
“She’s all sorts of fucked up.”
“She is bipolar.”
“She is a sick woman.”
“I had an affair and it was her fault because she didn’t give me what I needed.”
And as I sit and listen to you tell your stories of your “horrible” ex-wife, I cringe. If you are willing to trash talk your ex-wife, the MOTHER OF YOUR CHILDREN, you are missing a big sensitivity chip and it’s a deal breaker for me. If you open up to me about the mental issues and instability of your kid’s Mommy, you are also dissing your kids. Know why? Your children are half of that “crazy ex” and you are incapable of realizing this. You are not doing your kids right by behaving like a douche bag and you are certainly not impressing me! It might not be obvious to you but your ill feelings towards your ex and your disrespect for her seems greater than the love you have for your children.
Ask yourself what your ex-wife is saying about you? How would you feel to be trashed all over the place without being able to defend yourself? There’s always three sides to every story, and we all know this. But your tone, your anger, your red face, your words…. say a lot about your character which is why you will NOT have that second date with me. I know there are women who will do the same as you, and trash their ex-husbands to you. Only because misery loves company, you may be “that couple” that bonds over shared negative feelings over your exes. And you know what? That isn’t a good basis for a relationship and likely will never last.
In several months of dating and many, many first dates, I met a man who refreshingly spoke with respect, kindness and gratitude about his ex-wife, the mother of his two children. “The love for my kids comes before anything.” I said to myself, “Now here’s a man who gets it.” There were other issues so that didn’t last long, but I have to say he was atypical when it came to what I had experienced with dating.
I texted my ex-husband one night, “When your dates ask you how our relationship is, what do you say?” He responded, “I say we are amicable.” I was happy to hear him say that. While my ex and I had moments of contention and it wasn’t always smooth sailing (show me someone that has an easy divorce), we reached a place where we are amicable and I am proud that we both chose to take the high road.
So men, please consider taking the high road. The stories of your relationship will eventually come out if you become a couple but in the earliest stages (like date #1), try and remember that you are being watched, listened to and if you shit talk the “crazy, bipolar, mentally unstable ex wife of yours” you will be disrespecting your own flesh and blood. If you don’t get it, keep doing what you are doing and see what happens.
I can tell you that if we are on a date and you get going on your “bipolar ex”, I will tell you right away how awful it is and shut you down. That’s right before I stand up and walk out the door and out of your life. So guys, if you can’t be respectful of a relationship you vowed to honor, do it for your children who should come first and foremost. If you don’t get it…. I can’t help you anyway.
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