Everyone knows that dating after a divorce can be complicated. Especially if you’re a parent. However, not everyone knows how it can be even more complicated to get involved, post-divorce, with someone whom is also fresh out of a marriage.
These are the things I have learned about being a divorcee dating a divorcee.
FOR SOME PEOPLE, YOU’RE ALWAYS #2
He chose you, you chose him. The exes are both out of the picture and you expect family and friends to embrace this exciting new romance with you. Sadly, it won’t always work that way. The ex will be lingering around you like a specter, always being the face some people wish they saw instead of your own. They’ll hark back to the days of the marriage, forget to refer to your partners name with yours instead of the exes, never replace their old photos with photos of you, and generally make sure you know that, no matter how long you’re around for, you’re their second choice of partner.
Does it matter? Yes. I would like to say it doesn’t but it does because it’s unfair to you, unfair to your partner, and, if you let it, makes you feel like inadequate shit. It builds resentments where they need not be, and can stop gatherings of family or friends being something to look forward to and, instead, turns them into something to endure.
Can you get over it? Yes. What matters is you, your loved one, and any kids there are between you. If your little patchwork family unit is working then you can learn to down out the negativity of other people. They expect your partner to live for them, be with someone for them, instead of living for themselves. You’re both grown ups and it’s time to start living to your own standards and not other peoples. If you feel positive in your relationship, don’t let other people’s disappointment bring you down.
SOME PEOPLE WILL ALWAYS SUSPECT YOU’RE THE PRODUCT OF AN AFFAIR.
I discovered this one in a painful and humiliatingly public way when I was referred to as a “home wrecking slut” on social media by friend’s of his ex wife. Whilst we went to the same school fifteen years ago, we had not been in each other’s lives until long after both our marriages ended. Unfortunately, not everyone will believe that. Give all the reasons you need for ending your marriage, but to some people it will all be a lie. To some people, once you come out as a couple with a divorced person, they will see it as finally revealing the truth, however long after the split you got together.
Does it matter? Yes. It’s okay to feel hurt and offended and devastated. People who are willing to say things like that without any evidence or justification are complete judgmental fools. They’re unwilling to accept that maybe, just maybe, you’re a decent human being. And if you did get together before their relationship ended, there’s two people in this and you weren’t the one in that marriage, he was. So giving you all the grief for it is unjust. We are fortunate that marriage’s can end to allow a person to find their “real” true love.
Is it okay? Yes. They say that when you end a marriage you find out who your true friends are. The ones who bad mouth you, ignore you, and treat you like dirt are the ones you are better off without. Finding out how people see you can hurt, and it can make you feel miserable, but in the long run you’re entering your new relationship knowing the people you see as friends truly deserve that title.
YOU’LL DISCOVER NEW INSECURITIES
Suddenly you’re confronted with another person, in my case woman, who is smart, funny, interesting and beautiful. Someone your partner was attracted to enough, loved enough, and loyal enough to to want to marry. Someone who gave him his first child, a magical and life changing experience you’ll never be able to recreate. And, if they get on well like The Boy and his ex, she will be in your life a lot, sharing the child they raised, sharing inside jokes you don’t understand, and being the same lovely person she was when he met her and fell in love with her the first time.
Does it matter? No. Is it justified? Yes. It’s okay to feel it, to feel insecure and anxious. It’s okay to admit you feel that way. Not because there’s a reason to, but because if you admit it they can be in the loop and start to work with you to overcome it.
Is it okay? Yes. For him that relationship is dead in the water, he knows who she is and how he felt, but hasn’t felt that way for a long time so knows there is nothing to feel worried about. But you’re new to it, you’re experiencing it fresh. It’s okay to address those insecurities together so too can start to see it as he sees it.
YOU KNOW WHAT YOU NEED MORE THAN YOU EVER DID.
When you’re newly single after a failed marriage, it gives you time to think. You’re not ready for another relationship, you’re relishing the time alone, and it forces you to confront who you are as a person and what you actually want. You don’t want to settle for just “okay” anymore. You’re comfortable with the person you are and don’t want to change for anyone. It makes you picky.
Does it matter? No. You don’t want to be with someone just for the sake of it. Whether your ex spouse was a true love or not, you’ve been there and experienced something that was real. My husband wasn’t a true love in the way The Boy is, by a long stretch, but he was a real relationship and it had a very real impact. I don’t need to experience marriage again, not just so I can be ‘not single’ anymore.
Is it okay? Yes. It’s brilliant. You’ll be able to have fleeting romances for the fun without breaking your heart when it ends. A marriage ending is a huge heart ache in so many ways, and if you can survive that, the normal relationship endings of the dating world are nothing. You’re tough. You’re strong. You won’t settle down unless it’s worth it. And when you do settle down? You know it’s for real.
ALL FAMILIES ARE WEIRD.
When you meet your first spouse’s in laws, you get a bit of a “hey, we’re both from weird families, that’s why we’ve bonded!” moment. Not many families are as odd as yours, after all. But… no they are. All families are weird. Either you’re weird too and have found a fellow oddity, or you’re the only two ‘normal’ ones in your families. You meet the new ones family and you realise that pretty fast.
Does it matter? No. Whether they welcome you with open arms or treat you like an unwanted outsider, because let’s face it, you’ll never be as good as the first one, it doesn’t matter. You spent your whole life dealing with your weird family, then your whole married life dealing with your ex’s weird family. Grit your teeth, it’s their problem not yours.
Is it okay? Yes. You’re a pro now. If they’re treating you badly, just smile and nod. You don’t need to let it get to you because you’re not in a relationship with their family, you’re in a relationship with them. And if they’re just plain weird, they’re probably plain weird in a way you’re so used to dealing with at home you’ll settle right in.
And the most important thing I’ve learned? There IS life after divorce. There IS love after divorce. And there most certainly and definitely IS happiness after divorce. And if you’re lucky enough to enter this stage of life with someone going through the same thing, you’ll be able to hold hands, face the world together, and know that you are FINALLY with the right person.
You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.
Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!