It’s a scary phrase. “Dating in Your 40s.” In our society, dating is something you do in your twenties – early thirties, even.
But by the time we’re in our forties, most of us have coupled-up and left the dating world behind. After all, you’re married, and dating is a distant memory.
Then you get divorced. After a few months of shock and grief, you decide it’s time to get back out there and see if you’ve still got it. How soon is too soon to start dating after divorce? It’s a question that’s often asked by recent divorcees; unfortunately, there is no good answer.
When I was going through the worst phase of my divorce, some of my co-workers set me up with a friend. I’d only been single for about a month. Now, there are no hard and fast rules here, but trust me – a month is WAY too soon. We went out on about four dates before the smell of fear and abandonment drove her away. I was a mess. Who could blame her?
Dating in Your 40s Can be… Interesting.
A few months later, I joined OKCupid and really hit the scene. I still wasn’t ready to date, but I did have a lot of great experiences. One of my favorites came at an awful time. I was crashing at a stranger’s house in Northeast Portland, and the city was in the grips of the worst winter it had seen since 1940. The typically mild Portland winter was gone; in its place was a snowy, icy winter that felt more like Cleveland or Minneapolis. Even that made me mad at the time.
I’d be cursing the Gods as I walked home for making me suffer through Portland’s worst winter right after my wife abandoned me. One day, I slipped and fell on a patch of ice. My hip swelled up so much that it was hard to put my pants on.
During this epic barrage of snow and ice, a woman I’d been on just two dates with called me up and asked how I was doing. Not so good, I said. At the time, I didn’t have a car and I was living in a strange house in a strange neighborhood and feeling pretty alone in the world. “I’m coming to pick you up,” she said. “You’re staying at my house tonight.”
She had two pugs, just like I used to, and she was Asian — like my ex. That made the whole thing kind of surreal. But her house was warm, and she was sweet, and we made dinner and played cards and watched tv; all the while the fierce winter wind howling at the side of her house and making it feel like I was on a boat in an icy sea.
Nothing came of that relationship, but I still think fondly of her. She helped me out in my time of need. One thing I’ve learned post-divorce is that there are some genuinely good and caring people out there.
Dating in Your 40s is a Learning Experience
But was I ready to date? No – not really. But I did it anyway, and I’m glad I did.
Now I have a string of short relationships under my belt, and I’m currently seeing a woman that is an absolute angel. But I’m still not sure if I’m ready to truly engage in another long-term relationship. I used to surf the web for advice about “how long should you wait to date” after a divorce.
Some people say it takes two years; others, that it takes a year for every three years that you were married. But who makes up these rules? Grief and recovery are different for everyone.
So get out there and go on a date or two. The worst that can happen is you make a new friend, learn something new about yourself, and attempt to move on with your life. Go have some fun. It’s a big, beautiful world out there!