WTF!? I’ve been divorced for five years, dated a little bit here and there. I am grateful for my time alone, though it has been painful and very, very lonely.
Two months ago I met a wonderful, amazing man. He is everything I dreamed of: smart, successful, kind, thoughtful, so, so, so handsome and a really great father to his two grown children. Best of all? He’s crazy for me, and I am equally nuts about him. We have both said we are certain we want to be together forever.
I have read all your posts about the perils of being involved with men who are fresh out of a breakup or divorce. I read them because this man is barely out of his 20-year marriage. But he says (and I believe) that he has always been a relationship guy, and he wants a relationship with me. And trust me, Emma – this guy will not last long on the market. He’s a catch, and if I don’t swoop him up, someone else will.
–In love in Libertyville, Ill.
Dear in Love,
Well, I love you and this lovely love story. I so know that dopamine high that physical attraction creates. It is intoxicating like no other high. It sounds like you have found a good man and I encourage you to luxuriate in the legal intoxication of his adoration.
But your note is a curious — if not familiar — one.
You ask me no questions. Instead, your letter is a defense about why you should be with this man. It recalls my all-time favorite quote:
“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to say you are, you’re not.” – Margaret Thatcher
In other words, that you feel so compelled, apropos of no prodding whatsoever, to argue for why you should be with him signals to me that you are arguing against your own instincts that tell you to let him go.
While I sense this is indeed a good person, the few paragraphs I’ve read about him tell me that he really has not processed his divorce. How can he honestly insist that he is a “relationship guy” when he has not had the opportunity to explore what kind of guy he for 20 years? He is terrified of being alone (and really, how many of us going through divorce aren’t?).
Something else that piqued my interest was your use of the popular phrase, “will not last long on the market long.” I recently took a digital marketing class and one of the sales tactics taught was to use one of those count-down clocks you see on sales pages. “This deal is only available for another 6 hours, 42 minutes and :07 seconds!” Marketers use these tactics because they’re proven to work. They make people buy things they know they otherwise should not because they create an illusion of scarcity. There is also an illusion of scarcity in our society that suggests that love and wonderful companionship are in short supply. If you find it once, you will never find it again. I don’t believe that. I suspect that deep down you don’t either.
Which brings me to the biggest flag, which is your admonishment that you and this gentleman are ready to commit. You are full of a heap of thinly-veiled doubts, and yet you insist that you must lock him up, stat. You want to commit because he wants to commit. You are both grasping needily on to one another in a blur of doubt and fear. Which is not necessarily a reason to bolt all together. But it is reason to give me pause.
This is what I suggest. Continue to see him. Date him and love him and bask in the glory of his attentions and your mutual affections.Then give it time. Give him time to sort himself out. Give yourself time to really get to know him. Give the relationship time to grow into what it will be at its own pace — not the pace of the ticking time bomb of this hot commodity’s risk of being plucked off the market. Because you deserve more than an impulse buy. You deserve the real, sustainable thing.
Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post’s ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.