You’re not looking for the one that looks like it hasn’t ever been touched. And by the way, you don’t have to have been married to have baggage. As someone who hasn’t been married or been in a decades-long relationship, I worry about the opposite judgment–that someone will think I’m not capable of sustainable love or long-term connection. One woman who didn’t even know me said, “Oh, you’re single–you mean divorced? One of the most serious boyfriends of my adult life was divorced, or divorcing (he’d been separated a year). He knows what it is to be humbled by love, and to put other people first. He has learned that there is something more important than him.But when I started dating this divorced man in his late 30s, I thought he was sexy and sturdy in ways that younger men simply weren’t.When you find out a guy has been married before, do you hit the brakes? I tell you what: You should be far more afraid of the dudes with zero baggage. They know two things: What it’s like to love and what it’s like to lose. I hadn’t dated anyone in that situation prior, and I found it refreshing to date a grown man with commitments and obligations.
He knew what it was to make decisions, and have them blow up in his face.He learned how despite your best efforts, things sometimes fall apart in your hands and break your heart.His biggest disappointment wasn’t, say, that he didn’t get into his first-choice school.I’m not saying that divorced men are better than single men–but I’m saying that if you write off a dude because he loved someone before, you’re being shortsighted. This weird idea that we have to be someone’s first love, that he or she can’t have had any life before us, is naive and crazy and, I’ll say it, selfish. In the end, this man and I were not a match; we ended up wanting different things. I’d be far more leery of the person who’s got nothing–no carry-on luggage, no past, no prior commitments, no lessons learned, just a toothbrush, a change of clothes, arms swinging free.
I knew he needed that, but I also knew it wasn’t me. (As an aside, I do think there’s something more than a little messed up when it’s more acceptable in our culture to essentially make a very big promise and break it, than to decide not to take it on.) If we’re going to look at the upside of divorce, it’s that thousands of men and women are released back into the dating pool every day–many of them with a far more open-minded and enthusiastic approach to meeting new people than some of the hardened singles you encounter.
But it had zero to do with the fact that he had been married before. I say this because looking for partners or lovers or any rich and rewarding connection is NOT like picking out a shirt.