(Graphic: Kat Borosky/TueNight.com)
Recently, friends and writers Erin Donovan, a columnist for the Bangor Daily News and Marinka of the blog MarinkaNYC.com, sat down in front of their iPhones to chat about dating after divorce. Erin is in her 30s and has three kids. She divorced after ten years with her ex-husband nearly two years ago. She began dating another single parent after a year of believing that she might become one of those people who has an unsavory amount of canaries. She had known her present boyfriend in various non-romantic contexts, which spared her the online dating route, which is what got her married the first time around, thank you very Match.
For Marinka, the process was a compicated one, she had to study the overview of the Divorce process in Arizona with a professional, many times in order to feel confident that she was not making a mistake. Marinka is in her 40s, with two kids. She started online dating soon after her separation, trying sites such as Match, JDate and Tinder. Yes, Tinder. She is now madly in love with the third man she met on Tinder, even though that means she has to live with the shame of Doing Tinder Wrong.
We are not going to give you their social security numbers, because you have enough personal information on them at this point.
We are both divorced-ish and in love, What’s our secret? Besides great teeth for you and great hair for me, that is.
Co-dependency. I don’t leave home without it.
How many people did you date before you met The One?
No people. I had a rather intense courtship with Homeland. No really. I didn’t go on a literal date with anyone until my present boyfriend asked me out. I had offers! I had offers! Or maybe that man really did just need to plough my driveway, now that I’m thinking about it. How about you?
I dated one guy and then met a few others for casual drinks. What is your secret for post-divorce dating?
I try to do everything Jennifer Aniston doesn’t do. In all seriousness, I don’t have a good secret. I just know that companionship is underrated and I set out to find a nice partner to have in my life. I am very mindful of doing things differently this time since the happy ending wasn’t written for me the first time.
I liked the freedom of dating after the divorce. Before I got married I was very conscious that I was A Woman Of A Certain Age and my Biological Clock and my mother’s need for grandchildren. This time around, I thought I could be more casual and just have fun and see what happens.
Totally. The first time around I was so concerned with the long game: this is the one I will buy a house with, the one I will have children with. This time I’m thinking only of personality compatibility. I don’t need to share a mortgage with someone again. I’d rather share good jokes. Way cheaper.
How is it that we fell in love so soon after we separated? Is it rebound? Or do things just move faster in the 21st century?
I like to think that I’m impossible not to fall in love with. I mean, what’s not to love — three small children, spotty employment and emotional baggage? I really just hope I’ve gotten better at choosing the right partner for me. I tend to fall in love easily but staying in love is harder. I sound like a Taylor Swift song. You’re clearly just rebounding, right?
I am not. Take that back. Casual dating was fun, but I quickly learned that some men are put off by casual comments like “Wow, this is my first date this century!” I also briefly wondered if they had changed sex since the last time I had it. Maybe there was new stuff that I had no idea about. I dated casually for about a month and then I met someone who checked off every box for me. Or at least most of them. The important ones they write songs about.
I was actually willfully opposed to being in a relationship. Didn’t want one. Didn’t feel I had much to offer after being steamrolled by the emotional toil of a divorce. Then a man, who I had just considered a friend, made me switch gears. I realized I could still make somebody smile and feel appreciated, especially when being offered the same in return.
So you weren’t looking for a relationship but it found you?
Absolutely! I had been asked out a few times by men I didn’t know and those inquiries scared me into wearing a band on my ring finger again. I didn’t like being seen as “on the hunt” or “on the market.” I just wasn’t ready. So I When Harry Met Sally’d with a single friend for a while — sad existential talks about divorce, platonic coffee dates, walks — until we realized that Harry was right: men and women cannot be friends. But we realized that they shouldn’t be friends if they could be happy with more so now we are together.
How about you? You dabbled in some online dating, right? That was the genesis of my first marriage so I was like “back away from the computer…”
I dabbled! The internet was just being invented when I got married so online dating was a brand new, exciting world for me.
Did you have any nightmare dates? The kind that make you want to rip the tampon dispenser off the wall of the restroom and tunnel out ?
I had one lunch date where he kept postponing it in 15-minute increments until I started to suspect that he had a starvation fetish. But when he showed up, he was nice. Looking back, I really feel like I was robbed in the whole “nightmare date” department.
Ha! My biggest nightmare is that they’ll ask me to pay my own way.
The 15-minute increment guy says, “why don’t you get lunch today and I’ll pick up the next check. But then I met the guy I love, so there was no next check with this guy.
Were you straightforward about your divorce and children on the first date or did you wait to share until later? I can’t hide the fact that I have children because there’s usually one on a leash attached to my purse but yours are older and easier to disguise as home health aids or something .
No, I always fessed up to the two kids. Because above all else, I’m an excellent mother. Do you wish you dated more before “settling down”?
I think about that a lot and all I can come up with is that I’ve never been a casual dater. I’m selective on the front end – looking for all the right attributes in terms of conversational abilities, humor, and only a white-collar rap sheet – and then usually like the person I agreed to go out with. Now I just have to practice not always marrying the guy. Do you?
I screened well online and ruled out people with bad grammar, dick picks and Republicans. But I never thought I’d fall in love with the third person I went out with. I wish I’d met him earlier. Like 30 years earlier. So I don’t wish I had more dates before finding him.
What has been your biggest post-divorce dating surprise?
That I can feel that kind of love. And that I found it online. I thought not being dismembered by someone you meet online was a successful relationship, so finding true love has been a huge surprise.
For me it’s been that there are still — despite the weathering effects of divorce and life gone wrong — good men left.