Should you date a man who can’t be alone?

men cant be alone divorce single mom

Not gonna lie. I’ve thought about him many times. Often, even. It’s been more than a year since our brief affair but it was intense. That physical, chemical thing that imprints itself on a cellular level and does not leave. And his intellect. Memories of our conversations recall when Helena, now 6, walks down the street and around the house with her nose in her first chapter books, her little mind so craving more and more of something it did not even know was missing.

I met him when he was barely separated, deep in the throes of the shitstorm that is always divorce: anxiety-producing negotiations, the awkwardness of visitation schedules, pent-up loneliness of a bad marriage that unleashes in a vomit of confession and grief in the presence of a sympathetic and smitten ear. It was too much. The worst of him was all hanging out — just as we were getting acquainted.

We remained social media friends and I’d get a flirty Facebook message every now and again. I knew he found a girlfriend shortly after we split, but I was not entirely surprised when he pinged me on OKCupid the other day.

“Aside from the obvious, how are you?” I IM’d him on the site.

“LOL, yeah,” he replied. “I got dumped.”

“I’m catching you on the rebound again. Déjà vu!”

“That’s about right. I would be more aggressive about asking you out, but I don’t want to be that guy.”

“You’re that guy. But I think most guys are, no? Can’t be alone?”

“I was alone once. 15 years ago.”

“:)”

It’s a cliche. One of those things bitter, single women gripe about: Men can’t be alone. After divorce he’s moved on with her, while she struggles to find a respectable date in her demographic. It’s certainly not universal or gender-specific. But there seem to be lots of men who are terrified of being without a mate.

It plays out in unexpected ways. For example, over the past several years I’ve heard at least six variations on the following story:

“Were you faithful to your ex-wife?”

“I wasn’t. But let me explain! I thought we were through. Done! I was sleeping on the couch. That was it as far as I was concerned. But when she found out I was involved with my colleague/on Match.com/out with you she went ballistic. She tells everyone I cheated on her.”

At the very first suggestion he may find himself alone he jumped at a chance not to be.

I’ve been partial to the advice that after a breakup you should lick your wounds and rest up a bit before jumping into a new serious relationship. But if a really wonderful person crosses your path and happens to be a steaming, hot, temporary mess at that moment, maybe the sensible move is to stick around? Bide your time and wait it out? Especially if that person’s inclination is to attach to the next semi-suitable body that crosses his path? I think to my kids’ picture book reporting the unlikely friendships growing out of two species who happen into the same home: the ancient giant tortoise and the baby hippo, both rescued from a tsunami, or the sheep who took up with the orphaned elephant. No one faults the animals for convenient love.

So I’m ambivalent about agreeing to a date with my former lover, despite the many times I hoped I would hear from him, exactly as I have. Part of me wants to tell him to fuck off — I need to be wanted for me, for being special and desired — not just because I happen to be available and equipped with a pulse and vagina. But is that being too idealistic? Too romantic? Am I buying into the fairytale soulmate fantasy — that the only reason to date is if you are with someone with whom you are destined to eternal bliss? Hanging around for the perfect relationship is a risk that might price a girl out of the market. As a friend advised : “You need to grab a man right after his divorce when he’s 20% discounted. If you wait until they’re healed from their split all that’s left is the 75%-off dregs.”And then there is the reality factor. Are any of us really, truly over our exes? Do those divorce wounds ever completely heal? Just last week, late after the kids were asleep, I found myself for the first time writing about my ex’s brain injury — heaving bottomless sobs of unpacked grief. When it comes to matters of the heart nothing is definitive, and maybe healing never really ends. And if that is true, how silly is the woman who turns away a man on the fanciful promises of time?

9 thoughts on “Should you date a man who can’t be alone?

  1. Hi Emma,

    You made this statement: “heaving bottomless sobs of unpacked grief. When it comes to matters of the heart nothing is definitive, and maybe healing never really ends.”

    Here is my take on it, healing can really end or at least we can heal 98% of the past and have a deep understanding of the other 2% of the feelings that we still have for our past partners.

    I believe the reason why so many of us have not healed is that we have not had a complete set of tools with which to do the healing. Standard therapy and counseling models only provide half of the solution and focus on changing our thinking.

    The Emotional Hot Button Removal Techniques, described in detail in my recently released book Divine Divorce, How To Make A Great Adventure Out Of The Worst Disaster Of Your Life provides the other half of the solution. These Techniques allow you to let go of the emotional energy of grief, feeling alone, loss and bitterness.

    When we let go of this emotional energy and change our thinking, true healing from divorce can happen. In fact we can heal more than our divorce, we can actually heal our childhood emotional conditioning.

    This ultimately sets us free in life and then we don’t need to settle for the next warm body that comes along that we are attracted to.

    Love and Hugs,

    Jacque
    http://www.yourdivinedivorce.com

  2. Wait . . . are we even supposed to want to be alone? Shouldn’t humans be together? Isn’t that the whole point of other humans and mating and our natural inclination to connect and pair up? Isn’t this whole “okay being alone” idea just cultural nonsense that doesn’t guaranty any positive outcome?

    And if we’ve been divorced it’s likely that we were so freaking alone in our marriages as to be practically love starved. But, then what? We’re required to continue with love starvation until we “get okay” with it and then we somehow become magically good at connected, loving intimacy?

    There’s no guaranty that he’ll ever be what you want him to be. But you’re drawn to each other, so even if it’s not your last romance, wouldn’t it be cruel of you to withhold the romance that’s right here from yourself, because of some cultural idea about who is a good match and how long they have to have been broken up and whether they can tolerate long nights in front of the television by themselves? <—-how is that even a desirable quality?

    Besides, the last girlfriend was the rebound so now you're going to be the REAL one. <—if we're playing the cultural rules about love game, you win, you're in the clear, enjoy the ride.

    Thanks for letting me work that out for myself. This obviously has come up for me. I took 1.5 years off from dating after my divorce to heal and I've turned down men who I've had a connection with because they just got out of their divorce. It makes sense and it's probably prudent. But, now? Now your guy just available to you if you want him.

  3. The healing does take place, but it needs the space to take place and the attention and time that particular healing needs. It is much for fun to “get on with it” without acknowledging the place, blessings and scars a relationship has left with us. I encourage you to allow that bottled up grief the space to come out, while continuing to embrace your new life and new dreams.

    With love,
    Honoree

  4. Maybe I’m trying to justify my current situation (spending time with a Mr. Right Now who has some red flags and commitment issues but is also fun and sweet), but I think we can also work through our issues in the context of relationships. Not all the time, and not for all issues, but I do think we can learn from people (ie, men we date) in a variety of situations. We don’t always have to date in search of a fairytale ending, which clearly doesn’t exist in any case. I’m 2-1/2 years post-separation and 1 year post-divorce, and I’m still not sure how it all works out. I do think that in my case, I’m learning by being with someone, and I have to trust that I’ll know when the returns are no longer worth it. On the other hand, as I said at the start, I could be full of it and just trying to justify things. In any case, thanks for sharing your situation. You’re not alone! Ultimately, I think that a lot of things become clear day by day, on a case by case basis, and that our generalizations about whether we should date or not at a certain point in time are too broad.

    Eve

  5. tell ya what, all this healing you’re talking about would be a hell of a lot easier I had a system that is so heavily weighed to my advantage that it’s silly. I mean for one, why is “allimony” even still a real law? Very few cases really require such a thing these days – and they grow less and less as the years go on. And throw kids into the mix? Forget about it. A woman can and does typically get anoited role of the “more important” parent and get’s a 2 for the price of none – more time with the kids to be a real parent and double score – the biggest for-government profit secret today – child support – bling! Most men are treated not as parents but as criminals. This all is of course why 3 out of every 4 divorces – filed by women.

    anyway if a couple is emotionally drifted apart and physically drifted apart (hence – sleeping on the couch) and divorce is immenent, then why should anyone, man or woman, remain in such a miserable state. Go ahead and start getting your life back together, – WITH SOMEONE ELSE if that is what you so chose. The only thing I don’t get about this man you spoke about is that he answered the question wrong. His answer should of been “no, I haven’t cheated. End of story. No explanation needed. The fact that he answered “yes” and got defensive right away to me actually proves that he did cheat because he knew that there was still a chance to save the marriage. If he thought it was entirely over, he would of answered the question differently. Of course the ol “he or she cheated” line is somethign I typically scoff at. When that happens, there is so much more going on that sometimes will colminate with someone “cheating”. And most sheepish people will just hear that and form an opinion. But the more intelligent reasonable “sheep-dog” person will understand that anyone who goes around boasting that as the reason for their divorce is usually someone who is in denial about their own wrongdoing and is in most cases just as much to blame for the failure of the marriage. And no – I’ve never cheated on any girlfriend I’ve ever had at all – even as a young kid never. I just end it if I want to “cheat” – I don’t pussyfoot around.

    Anyway about your guy, you’re overthinking that whole thing. Let’s just put it this way:

    1. you are single
    2. he is single

    therefore, if you two want to date, go ahead. Stop trying to figure out math formulas on how long one or both of you have been single, and for how long in the past one or both of you have remained single versus in a relaiontship, and dividing that number by the square root of how many kids you have divided b……………….stop. You’re both single, check. You’re both interested in each other? Seems likea check to me too. That’s all you need to know. End of story.

    Besides if you are into this guy, evidently you will never be able to date him unless you catch him directly after a breakup anyhow. Why? Because he will always jump into a relaitonship with someone – anyone – for the rest of his life. That doesn’t make you any less or more special. It just means this guy isn’t picky and jumps into relationships as fast as he can. So unless you are willing to do that with him, you better get him now. Because who knows, if you blow him off maybe the next one who he will surely start dating right after you say no will be his next wife and he’ll be totally off the market forever. Or maybe that wife will be you.

    1. Lots of great points here … though to be clear this one wasn’t an example of “I cheated, BUT!” …. that was a whole bunch of others :)

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