* What happened?
* Have you considered a trial separation?
* When are you going to start dating again?
If you are the one who filed because by the grace of God you finally summoned enough nerve to go through with the death of a marriage despite emotional bullying or even physical abuse, the idea of a separation is as absurd as it sounds for your own mental and physical safety. But lots of times you can’t comment on that nor do you want to as you are just holding the tears of failure back by sheer willpower. And if folks really think all of the intimate details of a failed relationship involving two broken people can be summed up just to appease their curiosity let me be the first to say it’s impossible to cram 3,000 reasons into a canned statement.
And these aren’t usually your closest and dearest ones asking. This is the mailman you rarely see or the guy who works somewhere in your office or your dental hygienist who we all know asks open ended questions while every metal tool and water pick is in your mouth. If you are a pleaser such as yours truly you hem and haw, trying to sound pleasant, not bitter, healthy and you end up sounding like a spineless twit. Or you open the door for their story of divorce or their opinions on what you need to do next from get a tattoo to next time marry for money or join the convent. I kid you not.
If you can’t honestly answer the first two questions, you most certainly can answer the third one centered on your romantic life. Let’s be clear. With a divorced female more than likely the last thing she wants to do is put her big toe in the cesspool of first dates once again. The thought of the energy it takes to strike up a conversation with a stranger let alone fill the awkward silences over a whole meal is swoon worthy. And just forget answering any questions about your failed relationship on top of fretting you have a lettuce leaf stuck in your teeth. It’s simply too much to even consider in the early months of ringless nights.
Possible answer to those chomping at the bit to set you up stat are:
“Oh I wouldn’t want to ruin our friendship!” Said with enough wit and sarcasm you can nip that conversation in the bud. And shut down any future date proposals if you fear that’s the reason said person is asking.
“Well, I’ll probably just order a husband that’s already house trained off of the internet next time.” Keep a straight face and there’s really nowhere to go from there but bid them to have a great day and walk off.
“I have an alert on my phone to ring when Bradley Cooper is free again so I’ll let you know.” Or if you really want to get the office gossip mill going, insert the name of a taken female celebrity. Kidding. Sort of.
But when is the right time to date again? Surely folks with more letters after their name have their official stance on the matter. And many well-meaning mothers do too. Your mother and the mothers of many single men who are waiting for the chance to sic their offspring on you. So instead of waiting for chance to take off I felt I needed to put fate on my timetable when a recently-divorced girlfriend and I issued the “First Five Dates Challenge” for one another.
This gem came around when we were both lamenting as to how lame we were. Here our co-workers thought we were out tearing up the town each weekend in a new hot bar celebrating our singleness when in actuality she was addicted to Totinos and the Home Shopping Network. I on the other hand had a new fascination with watching the Traffic Channel while eating unforgivable amounts of chocolate. Over caramel apple ciders one day I told her how the Traffic Channel was a metaphor for all of those other people moving on with their lives. “How is that possible?” she asked. “We live in Atlanta. You’re basically watching people sit in traffic. Not actual moving traffic. You’re actually watching stagnant lives.” We decided that we needed to “take back the night” for the next weekend and set our own agenda.
And that’s how the promise to each go out on five first dates was made. The deal was we needed to get back in the game, feel attractive to the other sex, imagine ourselves dateable and see how “healed” we were in moving on, but without the commitment to make a second date or envision ourselves with that person long term. Show the rest of ourselves and the world that we were ready to embrace the next season of our lives. Trust me, in theory it sounded very Thelma and Louise with Destiny’s Child playing “Survivor” in the background. We left with a plan.
- Sign up on a dating website: eHarmony had our money by night’s end and we went to work on our profiles.
- Wait and see.
- First 5 guys who asked us out were the “lucky” ones as long as they didn’t seem like ax murderers or attorneys. Just kidding. Hate to offend any ax murderers out there.
My friend didn’t have a lot of parameters set around her preferences so her first five dates were set up in record time. Mine took a little longer as the back and forth of electronic conversation had to progress on the average about 3 back and forths before the question to meet up was offered. So out on my first date in years I went. For the record I didn’t date in high school – like didn’t even get asked to prom. And aside from asking guy friends to formals or sorority dances in college, I didn’t have a boyfriend or a record number of dates in my history. This was all new to me. And now I had what felt like a big scarlet “A” on my chest to add to the awkwardness of a first date.
Stop back to find out how it went…