Leslie's Omnibus

Here We Go Again

Dr. Helen sometimes asks the darnedest questions:
Have you ever dated a divorced man or woman? If so, what were the issues? Did it work out or not? If you are a divorced man or woman, do you have any better, less sexist advice? Read the column and let me know.
Even more fascinating is the fact that, as of this writing, ALL of her repondents are men, and none of them are bashing divorced women on the subject. Their experiences and critiques are spot-on.

Since I'm divorced myself and have dated divorced men (and we all know how much I love dating), and since, many moons ago, I worked for a family law attorney, this is a subject near and dear to my heart.

Yep. She's correct about the sexist nonsense handed out in the self-help books she cites. I have a much more practical approach to dating a divorced guy, and would expect that men should pretty much take the same approach in dating divorced women:

Make sure he's really divorced. It should come as no surprise that many married people (men and women) troll the personal ads, bar scenes and online dating services looking for a little nookie on the side. Google his name. Dig a little deeper if you're not sure. Why? A good friend of mine met a guy while we were out when I was up visiting recently. The guy claimed he was divorced, but something didn't smell right. So she did a little noodling around the net. Surprise, suprise, surprise. Sadly, this happens all the time.

Forewarned is forearmed.

So he's told you up front that he's in the process of a divorce. How far along in the process is he? See 1. above. If he (or she) is just entering the process, it is simply not a good time to get involved. Divorce is a soul-sapping experience, even if you're doing it no fault and/or going through a mediator. I purposely didn't even re-enter the dating market until a year after my divorce was final because I didn't want to be hauling any heavy, unwieldy baggage along with me. I wanted to be able to enter a new relationship with an open heart, not a heavy one.

Was he the dumper or the dumpee? In my experience, both professional and personal, the dumpee (again, man or woman) takes a LOT longer to get over a divorce than the dumper. I don't date depressed people or angry people. That person should seek professional help and get himself into a good place before he get backs on that dating horse. My idea of a good time is not to play therapist to my date. Someone who's done the heavy lifting to get himself into a better place personally, however, is mighty attractive to me.

How cordial is his relationship with his ex? This is especially important if there are children involved. Personally, I don't want any guy I date to be so close with his ex that it makes me uncomfortable (I had that happen once, and wouldn't tolerate it ever again) on the one hand. On the other, I really, really, really don't want to hear what a bitch the ex is, or to be held accountable for all her sins. I won't hold you responsible for my ex's failures, either.

His kids? If he has kids, I don't want to be with a guy who doesn't take care of his responsibilities to them -- financial, emotional, or otherwise. That's a walk away fast deal-breaker to me.

I do, however, have a problem with guys who go too far in the opposite direction, either. Guilt-ridden guys who cave in to their kids are just not attractive. Work your guilt out and be a good parent, okay? That's attractive.

Bonus points for a guy who gets along well with his ex when it comes to making parenting decisions.

BTW -- Don't yank me into a relationship with your kids until and unless we're dating exclusively and have a good idea that our relationship has some really long legs. I refuse to be the the bad guy to the kids and/or have my own heart broken if our relationship doesn't work and I've fallen head over heels for your kids. Not fair to them. Not fair to me.

He has kids, is acting responsibly (or trying to) towards them, but has the ex from Hell? This is where you really need to ask yourself just how much you're willing to tolerate in a relationship. If he's the greatest guy in the world in every other way, then you could choose to embrace the suck and stick with him. No whining or crying about it later. You knew it was there in the first place.

If that kind of conflict is just not your cup of tea, walk away, and do it sooner rather than later. Be honest with him and tell him that you just can't handle those kind of outside forces in a relationship. Wish him well and hope that he finds someone who can.

Believe it when he tells you what he wants. When I was doing the personal ads, I was amazed at just how many people paid no attention to what I said I wanted in terms of age, religious background, height, weight or ethnicity. Much the same as I really do know what I want, when a guy who sounds great in every other says he's looking for a 20 year-old with a bangin' bod, he really means it. Or if he's looking for companionship, but not a long term relationship. Yep. He means that, too. Don't even go there.

Know what you want from a relationship, too. Don't want to carry someone emotionally all the time? Don't do it. Don't want to carry someone financially? Don't do that, either. Want someone who'll meet you halfway? Don't settle for less. There are too many other wonderful folks out there.

Don't limit yourself. Much as the personals didn't work out for me, I do have friends who met and married through them. Do whatever feels right for you in terms of how you go about meeting people.

Never just toss a good fish back into the pond because he's not the right fish for you. If he's a good guy but not a good fit, who do you know that might be a good match? I have another set of friends where the guy met Friend No. 1 through the personals but didn't have any chemistry. Friend No. 1 thought he was a great guy, would make a great friend, and had Friend No. 2 with whom she felt he'd be a great match. Introductions were made and Great Guy and Friend No. 2 have been married for years now. Friend No. 1 is still great friends with both.

Deal from a position of honesty. Expect it in return. Really listen to what the other person is telling you. Listen as much to what your head is telling you as what your heart is telling you. Assume we're all grownups here.


Livey said...

Excellent advice! You know he had the nerve to call me last weekend?! LOL I asked if he was still married, at least he was honest and said yes this time, I hung up.

Kevin said...

Embrace the suck?

I've always envied your ability to turn a phrase... ;-)


Omnibus Driver said...

Kevin --

Sorry, but I can't claim that one. My pal Supergurl is the worthy who first coined that one. But I do know a good one when I hear it!

Livey --

Some people never learn. Good for you for sticking to your guns. Besides, he can't hold a candle to Mr. Buzz!