Divorced And STILL Not Dating

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about being divorced and not dating. It ran on HuffPost Divorce and has always been one of my favorites.

Just prior to writing it, I'd been on the last, gimpy leg of my on again, off again relationship with the beau I called John McCain. We had taken a trip to Amsterdam and things just kind of fell apart afterwards. After a few dateless months, I declared myself SINGLE AS HELL and wrote about it.

Well, well, well. Here we are, almost exactly two years later. And not much has changed.

Oh, yes, those of you who have read my looney tunes updates know there's been some late night activity here and there. My as-for-now nameless booty call lovah scratched an itch or two or seventy for a nice long length of time. But that ended as 2015 began, so I am once again officially not dating. Climbing the walls? Yes, very much so. But totally not dating.

In the original post, I was quite confident my lack of love was due to prioritizing. Kids first. It was true then, as it is now. I do put my kids first...only now, their needs aren't as time consuming as they were just a couple short years ago. Yeah, I still do 100% of the parenting. They only go to their dad's house for a few hours on certain holidays, and sometimes he provides transportation if I absolutely can't. The parenting ball is always, always in my court. I've been doing it like this for so long it's the only way I know how to function.

The thing about your kids getting older is this: they leave. Charlie and Molly were both gone for the entirety of the school year. The other two, Henry and William, are still here, but more often than not they're busy with jobs, sports, activities and friends. We still have a packed basement on many weekend nights, but again...they don't need me like they used to. They can drive to get their own Taco Bell. Excuse me as I weep softly and also think about how good a 7-layer burrito sounds right now.

So, with the parenting gig winding down, I'm finding myself alone. A lot. The hermit in me is LOVING it. Those of you who fall under the introvert umbrella know exactly what I'm talking about. Before, socializing served two purposes: it was fun, and it got me the hell away from home for a few hours at a time. Now, I don't want to get away from my home. My home is quiet. My home is comfortable. My home has Netflix and my weekend uniform of leggings and sports bra and big sweatshirt.

I've found myself falling into a Loverboy routine of "workin' for the weekend", only everyone's not wondering if I'll come out tonight. They know I'm probably not. (Those of you who are younger than 40 will have to go to YouTube and look that shit up. I can't explain it.)

I still get invited out, thank God, and usually I accept those invitations. It's a tricky timeline, though...if I get an offer too far in advance, it gives me too much time to come up with a reason to not go. Not enough prior warning and I go into what experts call "hermit shock". It's what happens when a recluse imagines not sitting on their couch for two solid days.

I've become a really good napper, too. Were naps always so wonderful? My nap ritual is a thing of beauty: crawl on top of my made bed, pull a fuzzy blanket over me, turn on the fan (the remote control fan I bought for myself at Costco last year was THE BEST purchase ever), slip the eye mask over my baby blue/grays and drift away for an hour or two. Let me know if you hear of any paying sleep studies, okay?

But here's the catch: now that I have all this free time, it kind of feels like I'm supposed to be getting back out there. Sticking my toe back in the big ol' dating pond. I mean, it has been over 8 years. Most women have remarried by this time, if not well before.

Those of us who are still single this late in the game run the risk of becoming that eccentric, unmarried auntie who wears chunky necklaces and drapey Eileen Fisher tunics. "Yay! Aunt Jenny is here! I hope she brought that yummy spinach dip again!"

This is where I pause, and recite all of the self-soothing lines that have consoled me for so long: "It's okay to be alone." "Gurlll...dating takes so much time and effort. You're overbooked!" "If it's meant to be, you will meet Mr. Right." and the one that pops up with ever-increasing frequency: "You know, Jenny...you don't need a man to be happy."

I do believe that last one. Men don't equal happiness. However, lately I'm wondering if I'm not dating because I don't want to, or if I'm really afraid to. I worry that I don't know how to flirt anymore. Did I ever? And I'm scared that I am so rusty, I've forgotten how to tell if a guy really is that into you. What are the signs? For all I know, men are throwin' down the love gauntlet in front of me everywhere I go and I'm blind to it. Not very likely, I know. But still. You never know.

If my dating skills were a cluster of grapes before, they are most certainly a box a raisins by now.

I'm so out of the love loop, I don't remember the rules. How do you tell the difference between someone flirting with you vs. someone just being nice? Are all men without wedding rings fair game? Who is it okay to talk to? Is it alright to be chummy with my friend's husbands, or is that taboo simply because I'm single? Do I really need to join eHarmony again or should I hold out for two more years and check out the one for people over 50? Is it impolite to gently decline when someone says "There's this guy I know, I think you'd like him."?

Of course, since I'm me and I'm the person who compares herself to Hagrid, there's a tiny bit of insecurity involved. After a long stretch of being alone, it's hard to imagine letting someone in. Physically and emotionally. I'm so used to sleeping with a dog. It's one thing when the snoring and Dutch ovens come from a 75 pound Yellow Lab. It's going to be so weird having a guy next to me, doing those same things. The way I feel about putting myself out there again is a lot like the bit Amy Schumer did on her show, about actresses over a certain age. In case you haven't seen it (WARNING!! So, so many swears. Completely not safe to watch at work, on a bus w/ out earbuds or around children of pretty much any age):

Oh, I know! I know that was all about Hollywood's gross attitudes towards women and aging, but it sort of captures how I feel about having to go through the rituals of dating again. Am I still f**kable? Do I care?? (and P.S. what does it mean that as I watched this, I said out loud oooh look at that! Mismatched wine glasses! How cute!)

One other aspect of being divorced and not dating is how to deal with being a singleton in a sea of couples. Up until recently, this part of the single life hasn't really bothered me. There have been a few times here and there when my singleness has been like a big scarlet S on my chest...the most significant ones being "classy" evening events, such as the silent auctions held by the elementary school my kids once attended and where I now work. If ever a girl notices the absence of an arm to hang onto, it's at a party where she's surrounded by well-dressed duos.

Luckily, I don't attend silent auctions or really, any other fancy soirees on the regular. The other gatherings, like plain old parties or holiday things...they're not set up in such a way that being there by myself is a big deal. If I have to be, I can be charming and outgoing and even make small talk. My lady friends are fine sitting next to me around a bonfire while their men chat elsewhere. But...I was recently invited to a friend's birthday bash, which is taking place at another friend's cabin. As my friend explained the weekend to me, I was all "oooh yes! Girl's weekend at the cabin!" in my head. Until my friend said:

"So it's going to be us gals, the husbands, and whichever kids decide to come up as well."

Wait. Back it up, sister. Husbands? A testosterone filled monkey wrench was thrown into my plans.

I pictured all of us up at the cabin. Me, my girlfriends and their men. Everyone laughing and drinking, gathering around the fire, two by two, arms wrapped around shoulders, legs touching. And then me, sitting in a camp chair, probably brushing a kid's hair and checking facebook on my phone.

When did that happen? When did I become afraid to be somewhere sans date? This new development is kind of annoying.

I thought about all the single men I know (haha, all three of them) and wondered how strange/creepy/pushy it would be to ask one of them to come up with me. Not exactly as a date, of course, but with the understanding that we'd probably have to sleep in the same room, or on adjoining couches. I decided it would probably not be a wise thing to do. And so now, I'm considering not going. Who have I become??

All of this is my very long-winded way of saying yes, I'm divorced and still not dating.

Only this time, I can't say for certain why. For a good long while, I could give you a few very strong reasons. My kids. My work. My fear of being hurt again. Now, I seem to have even more reasons. And unlike my kids, these don't appear to be the kind of reasons that will grow up and move on.

Now, about that 7-layer burrito....


  1. Hugs Jenny! I too love my home and Netflix. I'm married with 4 kids so time to myself I would love as too am an introvert but...... I can't imagine dating again. The hassle alone would have me not! But you truly have to do what you need. And maybe if you're worried about that birthday weekend at the cabin maybe its a sign that your mind if getting ready. Who knows! Only you will. As an introvert I truly understand how hard it will be to get yourself out there. I hope whatever you want and are looking for come along as you truly deserve everything that makes you happy! Including that 7 layer burrito....... hope it was good. {bonus, you can send the kids out to get it for you!} :) Take care! Andrea

    1. You're so sweet. I haven't had the burrito yet...came pretty close yesterday but you have to be in the exact right mood to go to Taco Bell, you know?

      Thanks so much for reading!

  2. I've seen people bash down doors and sweep away obstacles and hone in on getting a relationship, with laser focus and, usually, success. However. The most suffering in relationships I've ever seen has been in the lives of these very people. Observation and experience have also taught me that waiting ... just pursuing LIFE, not the elusive "right" man, leads to better outcomes. We get so hung up on what we WANT that we don't realize it isn't what we need. The best times in my single life happened after I said, in disgust, "I'm done with dating!" And now back to the burrito!

    1. Oh Becky. I think of you often, especially when I'm ready to commit 100% to the wacky aunt lifestyle. I have a weird feeling that yes, there is someone out there for me. I just hope he's better at self-motivation than I am.

  3. Snap! You have addressed the issues so close to my heart that it's kind of scary. That's one hundred percent how I'm feeling emotionally about being single and not ready to mingle. Like you, it's been eight years since my divorce. I'm not sure if I still have what it takes to even flirt with a man let alone try to date one. I know that I have lost my edge when it comes to men. There was a time in my life when I could clearly declare, that I was all that, and a bag of chips; no longer true. Unfortunately, most of my time since my divorce has been geared towards the arduous tasks for trying to stay afloat financially; as an emotionally disabled single parent. Although, it gives me some comfort reading about the insecurities that have plagued other divorced, middle aged people; you particularly. Your candor is a huge relief for me; I don't feel like such a freak show for feeling the way that I do, or why I'm still single. Thank you!

    1. Hmmm...maybe this is something we can claim as ours? The 8 Year Itch?

      And yes, woe is the woman who has lost her edge. Even just a couple of years ago I knew how to handle myself on a date. How to dress and act and eat and drink. I think the longer I go dateless, the more cave-woman-like I become. And the less inclined I am to put on any sort of act.

      We are all freaks, my dear. Some of us just hide it better than others. I'm glad you're finding comfort here. That's the reason I write :)

      Thank you so much for reading!

    2. I have only been divorced for around 7 months but I am extremely happy by myself. I have tried to date, just went on few dates, nothing serous, but I got disappointed. I asked those men what happened to their previous wifes/gf etc. All of them basically dumped their women for being too fat, too old, not in love with them anymore, not taking care of their appearances. Those men walked away from long term relationships and left their children as well. I decided that I am done with men and I feel much better. I feel so free, so happy. I do not have to worry about wrinkles, saggy skin, loosing muscle tone and not looking sexy anymore. Who cares. I feel liberated for the first time in my life. So ladies, just stay healthy. I lost a big chunk of my health trying to keep my ex husband happy. Hey, he still dumped me while I was ill.

  4. I had a series of conversations with a person I will call "Witch", this past weekend. It was her 33rd wedding anniversary and she knows I am divorced. In these talks, at a big family party, she repeatedly claimed that marriages only break up when people are "not seriously committed" and "not willing to do the hard work", "lacking in character", "lazy", "just not up to the challenge". "We got it right!", she exclaimed. "Good for us!" It is a credit to my upbringing that she still lives and breathes.

    1. At the risk of sounding like a massive, hypocritical bitch...I kind of hope Eve's husband is screwing at least two women on the side.

      I don't know what I would have said if forced to listen to that. You are a much stronger, and probably nicer, person than me.

      Seriously. I want to kick Eve right now.

    2. Sweet jesus. I replaced the Witch name with yours, Eve!! I'm so sorry :) I have no desire to kick you, I promise.

      And since you are divorced like me I don't wish any screwing husband things on you either. OMG. I'm sorry, ha!!!!!

      (my adderall starts wearing off about this time of day)

  5. Okay, I guess one of us is going to have to make the big move across the country so we have someone to drink martinis with in our leggings and binge on "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." Your life is my life, minus the dog with a cat instead (which is even sadder). Just this weekend I decided I was over being the single singleton among all my very well-meaning married gal pals and to sign up -- once again -- on Match. Thanks for making me feel a little less alone. xo

    1. OMG. Yes, please. And cats aren't sadder. They're more badass because dogs are eager to please. They are easy. Cats have zero shits to give about us so having them around is no walk in the park.

      I miss my cats so much :(

      Are you seriously signing up? Please tell me you're going to blog about it. I have toyed with the idea but my insecurities and my lack of willingness to give up entire weekends of doing absolutely nothing are cockblocking me.

      Love you, lady.

  6. Hi Jenny--kind of new to your blog--I have to tell you I love it! You are hilarious and I love your outlook on things! I wouldn't worry so much about the dating--you're awesome and I know you will meet someone--until then just keep being who you are and don't worry about it!

    1. You are so sweet! Thank you. I'm feeling the love lately.

  7. Just stopping by to say I love your blog... I've been on the hunt for more "mommy" blogs to follow, but not obnoxious, artsy crafty holier-than-thou mommy bloggers, more cool, real world, sorta sarcastic mommy bloggers who are actually good writers. I found you through the Scary Mommy post on Costco, which made me extremely jealous because we have no Costcos near me, just Sam's Club. Boo.

    ANYWAY, that's just a long-winded way of saying that I admire your writing very much. You and I may not have too much in common (except that my daughter's name is Molly - she'll be 1 in less than a month! Reading your posts is forcing me to imagine her as a teenager and it's making me a combination of wistful and terrified). I used to blog about infertility but now I have a baby through IVF and another surprise baby on the way because isn't life funny like that? So now I blog about being a mommy. But hopefully not obnoxiously. I don't do any arts or crafts.

    Very glad I found your space. Can't wait to follow along on your journey. :)

    1. Thank you so much! This really means a lot to me. I'm sorry about no Coscto, that really does suck.

      I am so happy to hear of a baby Molly! Nobody uses that name, which in some ways is awesome but I always wonder why it's not more popular. Don't be scared about your teen Molly. Mine has become one of my best friends, despite my half-assed parenting.

      Congrats on the surprise baby! Life is funny, right? I love it when the funnies result in happy things like this. How fun for you!!! I'm sure you're not obnoxious...what's your blog's name?

      Thank you a ton for commenting and for being here. I hope we connect again :)

    2. I'm at Beloved Burnt Toast - blogs.hardingf.am/amanda

  8. This, a thousand times. I wasn't married to my ex, but it's been nearly 10 years since he left. When he left I was a scared young bunny (seriously...I was a baby having a baby) who had ZERO self confidence and had only dated him. As I've grown up I've come to realize that he was an abusive bleep, and that maybe I didn't really know what I was doing.

    So I'm a little (okay a lot) freaked out about "dipping my toe" back into the dating pool. It doesn't help that my sister is getting married this year (at the "wise" age of 21, yes you can chortle) and my mother has been dropping not so subtle hints about why I'm horrible for not wanting to attend ("You know...this will be the ONLY wedding your daughter will ever get to see....")

  9. Got here by way of the Chump Lady. Thank you SO much for this column. My last kid left for college a YEAR ago, and I still am not dating. And I am a hermit and I work full-time and I love my alone time. I am an outgoing introvert. I love and hate being single.

  10. I loved your original post about being single and not dating, and I just read this recent update. Thank you for writing, and I hope you do not worry too much about why you enjoy NOT dating! I am trying to get out of a messy, very drama-filled relationship at this point (I am ashamed to admit that I stayed too long in it), so I am actually looking forward to peaceful, quiet, nap-filled weekends with my loving cats. No annoying men around is always a plus!!!!

  11. I am late to reading these posts, but 7 years since my split and still not dating is defining me. Sometimes I wish I could just have a girlfriend move in with me. Someone to share everything with even if it isn't romantic. Split the bills with and someone to zip up your dress when your unlimber arms can't do it. And keep me from being a full fledged crazy cat lady, all alone only communicating with people online. But that person is probably not out there either. I don't want romance, but I would love someone who "got" me. Laughed at my jokes, could watch movies or shows or read the same books as me so we could discuss. My plus one that enjoys me on the couch after not showering for 3 days because I am still hilarious and witty...and what else really matters?


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