My ex husband and I were college sweethearts – I was 18 and he was 20. We shared greasy donuts on the lawns outside the library at university. We were friends before we were an item. There was no “official” first date that I can remember. We simply evolved into an “us”.
12 years later we were ex spouses. The last time I had dated was when I was 18. I was now a 30 year old divorcee with the dating frame-of-reference of a teenager. I had no idea of how I should even go about the dating game.
It is quite interesting that initially, the only reason I wanted to date, was to find another husband so that I could replace my MIA AWOL one as quickly as possible so that I could erase the horrible history and recreate a new life for myself. My self-esteem was at an all-time low and my cup was not exactly effervescing with confidence.
To put you in the picture, I was a 30 year old divorcee with three very young children. At the time of the divorce, my loving and concerned father proclaimed that I needed to understand that I was not such a “marketable package” with my three children and that I needed to accept that there was a very real possibility that I may not meet and marry another, due to the sizeable “baggage” that accompanied me. He then comforted me by telling me that he would always look after me. I understand his words came out of a place of love, but his words were not exactly esteem-boosting.
My first dating experience happened quite by accident. I had recently undergone some post divorce pectoral region aesthetic enhancement and was recuperating. My young neighbour begged me to accompany her to a singles evening. This was not something I had ever experienced before, but I agreed to accompany her. Interestingly enough, I met about seven different men that evening and probably three of them seemed quite nice. I quickly figured out how to scare off the not-so-nice ones – I would feign some tears and tell them that I was searching for a father-figure for my three young children who had all been recently diagnosed with ADHD. It worked like a charm. Pooooooof…….and they were off!! From that evening, I met a charming man in his early forties who had never married. From that evening, we hit it off, and landed up dating for six months. He was a gentle soul and nurtured me through a very emotionally taxing time. He was like a confidence tonic. Initially, I was quite amazed how a man could be interested in me. Although he was certainly not the man who I would marry, he was an incredible support. After six months of casual dating, we parted ways amicably and still remained friends. What was interesting is that he was totally unsuitable as a potential husband but he was absolutely just what I needed at the time. He was also excellent for my confidence. I finally believed that despite the fact that I came with “baggage”, I was still worthy of meeting a wonderful man.
Not long afterwards, I was set up on a blind date with a newly divorced man. He was still in a huge amount of pain and he was very angry at his ex wife. Although I was further down the line in terms of my divorce process, the fact that we both had errant wayward spouses was bonding for us. He also had young children and we found comfort in being in similar situations. For both of us, we thought that recreating a new “whole” family, would erase and heal the pain of the past. Interestingly, I seemed to heal from my pain quicker than he did. At this point, I realised that without our common “pain”, there was little else that bonded us. Eventually, the relationship died a natural death and I needed to move on.
At this point, I had done a lot of soul-work, had attended hundreds of therapy sessions and had finally reached a place where I felt whole and healed. I had also worked out exactly what I did and didn’t want in a male partner. I decided to try internet dating. At the outset, I made the decision to be completely true to myself. A friend of mine, who was a self-proclaimed dating expert, told me to present the prettiest picture possible at first and not to reveal the full extent of my “baggage”. She advised me to “hook” the man first and then let him know the details of who I really was. I decided not to follow her advice.
In my dating profile, I posted a picture of myself, sans make-up, with my three children. I figured that if a man liked me as I was in this picture, he would never be disappointed when he saw me in real life. I stated that I had three children. Interestingly, I posted that I was seeking a divorcee with three children and stated that I did not want to have any more children. Within a week, I received a message from a 40 year old bachelor who had never been married or had children. His profile stated that he was seeking someone without children and that wanted to marry and have children. Despite this, he chose to contact me. We emailed up and down initially and then he called me. Our first telephone conversation lasted three hours. Prior to his phonecall, I had taken the decision to be myself at any cost. In our initial conversation, I had prepared a mental list of “dealbreakers” and I systematically went through the list on our phonecall, checking that this was indeed the guy for me. My headspace was such that if my directness bothered this man, then he was indeed the wrong fellow for me. We clicked immediately and set up a first date for a week later. He had not planned on dating a woman with three children, but he had also felt a connection on our initial phonecall and decided that he needed to meet me in person.
He arrived to fetch me. I got into the car and about ten minutes into the journey, he proclaimed “I don’t think I can do this!”. I asked, “Do what?”. He panted “marry woman with three children!!!”. I laughed and replied that all we were doing was, was going for dinner and that he could calm down. We were not talking marriage here. We had a wonderful evening. When he eventually dropped me off at home, he asked for pictures of my children, so that he could “get used to having kids around”. Needless to say, six weeks later we were engaged and we have now been married for over three years. We have subsequently had a child together and today, we have a happy, crazy blended family.