I just realized that two weeks ago I passed the one year anniversary of my divorce. When I realized this, it felt like it had been a lot longer than one measly year, and I felt that perhaps some further reflection was overdue.
After all, my divorce happened just as quickly as my marriage. Yes, I got married young. I was 23 when I tied the knot. And a short 2.5 years later I was divorced. I tend not to think about it that often because to me it wasn’t an earth shattering event. We didn’t have children together, and it wasn’t like we’d been married for 30 years or anything like that. When my divorce came it was the realization of a mistake, not the death of a love. Not to say that I didn’t love my wife or care about her, but at the end it was clear that I wasn’t “in love” with my wife, and that my marriage was the result of youthful naivete and romanticism.
So it was for all of these reasons that I never really mourned anything and never looked back. I’m a pragmatic person by nature. I just dusted myself off and moved on. Hell, I was seeing another woman before my divorce papers were even signed. But something about the one year mark finally made me stop, pause, and look back. And I realized that I hadn’t let the entirety of the experience ever catch up to me. I put on a stoic face and ran out as far ahead of the imminent feelings of loss and grief and inadequacy as I could.
One year out, I handle all of those feelings a lot better than I would have right after it happened. When my wife told me that she wanted a divorce, I felt two things: fear and relief. I felt relief because, like my wife, I had known for a while that it was going to end and that I wasn’t happy. But I didn’t have the life experience to really know what to do with that. And I was fearful because for the first time in almost three years my future was up the air. Was I damaged goods? Would I ever want to get married again? How would a divorce affect my future social life?
But rather than deal with all of that, I just swept it under the rug and tried to find validation in other relationships. I know, that was stupid. And as a result I really made some poor dating choices right after my divorce, which is another post altogether. However, I haven’t been on the dating scene in about 10 months. Nor is there anything on the horizon in the near future. But a year out of the divorce, 10 months removed from my last relationship–it seems like enough distance to fully analyze those ramifications of my divorce that I had sought to avoid.
Am I damaged goods? Well, I guess that’s a pretty subjective question. I’ve definitely gotten some cock-eyed looks from women when I tell them that I’m divorced, but mostly because they can’t believe I was stupid enough to get married so young, not because I’m divorced. However, there are a few times when it has impacted me negatively. Some women hear a man is divorced and think, “Well, I guess that means he can’t make a relationship work…” And a lot of women, quite frankly, want to be a man’s first marriage. They aren’t interested in being second string. And I don’t blame them for feeling that way. But ultimately, I haven’t found that being divorced has overall affected my ability to get a date (although finding the right time to have the, “By the way, I’m divorced,” conversation is always a real treat).
Would I ever get married again? That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? I’m still young enough to remarry, and it isn’t like I’m so old that getting divorced ruined my chances of starting a family. But I honestly don’t know whether or not I would get married again. After my entire experience, a big part of me feels like marriage is just a piece of paper. It’s not a garauntee of love. Do I really need a piece of paper to legitimize my love for someone? No, of course not. However, if I found a woman who wanted to be married, I would definitely consider it. After all, it’s not just about what I want, nor should I let my past checker every detail of my future. So, to sum up, I guess never say never.
Has being divorced affected my social life? Not at all. I feel truly lucky to have the friends and peers that I do. They were nothing but supportive and encouraging the entire time. If it wasn’t for them the entire process probably would have been a million times harder, and I probably wouldn’t be in nearly as good a place right now as I am.
Now, for the negative. You guys didn’t think their wouldn’t be any negative consequences to this whole thing, did you?! I mentioned that my marriage was a result of youthful naivete and romanticism. Well, I can tell you that those two things are loooong gone out of my life. I wouldn’t exactly call myself cynical, but I would say that I am definitely more aware of how the world and relationships truly work. I can tell you that I have a much harder time trusting women now. And I can tell you that I truly wonder if every relationship has an expiration date on it. I can also tell you that I don’t think that love is blind. Rather, love is egotistical. I feel like the paradigm of the modern relationship is, “What do I get out of this?” which makes relationships feel more like corporate negotiations than a romantic partnership. And it’s because, ultimately, people in relationships are expendable. The idea of needing someone like air, or of not being able to live without someone…it’s all a manufactured fairytale. Real life isn’t like that, and I’d go so far as to say that if you need another human as much as you need air, you’re not in a very healthy or stable place.
But that’s the hardest thing that I’ve had to deal with, this realization that people are replaceable. Do people really, honestly believe that they’re the perfect 100% match for their significant other? Or that there isn’t some other guy or girl out there who meets all of the needs and requirements of your partner? No, of course not. Are there tons of interesting, funny, intelligently, moderately attractive men available? Yes. The only unique thing about me is my lived experience. But all of the things that a woman could potentially find attractive about me could easily be found in a bunch of other guys. So am I naive about relationships, do I still have these teenage, idealistic, overly-romantic ideas about love? No. People are complex and irrational and so are dating and relationships.
And now, to end all of this on a positive note. All of this, the entire lived experience of dating, being married, divorcing, dating again–it’s all made me realize how truly precious it is when you can find someone who you truly, genuinely relate to. And that you’d better enjoy every moment you have with those people, because you never know if or when it will end.