Posted by: itneverrainsinseattle | January 5, 2010

Dating and All That Rot

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I’m an extrovert. I often work things out by putting them out there, seeing how the look or sound once the words are out, and then go from there. Getting feedback from others helps even more for me to consider situations from multiple angles. Your comments, dear readers, are so very helpful for me in picking these problems apart and assembling them in some sort of understandable fashion.

So, thank you. Again.

A couple of days ago, I mentioned that my soon-to-be-ex wife Penny and I had started talking about what our divorce will look like. One of the great unresolved issues concerned dating:

It is a little premature to start talking about dating other people when neither of us has sufficient income to take care of household expenses. Yet. But I don’t expect our underemployment to last much longer.

Penny’s preference is to revisit this topic later. She seemed to prefer that we not start actively dating while we are still both living in the same house. This topic was the least resolved of all of them. I did point out that I had no intention of sacrificing, say, another year of my romantic life while waiting for everything else to fall into place. But at this point of the conversation, Penny had pretty much shut down. I’d like to say she acknowledged the point, but I don’t know that she really did.

I did not announce drawing any line in the sand on this matter. But as I’ve noted earlier, I am mentally drawing such a line, and I am going to work toward it.

My birthday is at the end of March.

This issue is cleared up by then.

The comments I received in response called into question what I mean by “dating,” because there’s been a lot of discussion over taking time, not rushing into a relationship while the rest of my life is so topsy turvey, etc. I suppose I need to clarify that by “dating,” I do not necessarily mean, “enter into a relationship.” (And, while we’re at it, the word “relationship” is rather loaded, too.)

This is a topic I’ve brought up previously, with similarly varied responses (see my post, Too Long Without a Good Kiss).

You’ve all given me fantastic responses, and I sincerely appreciate them.

I want to first note that my intention was not to state, “I plan to start dating by the end of March.” Rather, I want Penny and me to be clear by the end of March with regard to what’s on the table and when.

I think Leah described what I meant by “dating” in her comment:

What I hear you saying is that you would like to connect with a member of the opposite sex, (someone other than Penny) who can validate that you are still a man who is desired by women (physically, emotionally and intellectually.)

Yes! That! While it’s not necessarily that I want to have a roll in the hay right out of the gate (not that I’m opposed to the idea, either), what I do want is some female companionship. Just someone to see a movie with, have a good conversation with, share a meal with. Sure, I can (and do) do these things with Penny, or with any number of my male friends. But that’s not the same. It’s not the same because with Penny or any of my male friends because there’s nothing more than what you see on the surface. There’s not even the whiff of a chance of romantic or sexual tension (nor, in the case of my male friends, do I want any!); no undercurrents of connection… of possibility. Right now, what I crave even more than a real good kiss is the possibility. Of that. Of more.

I’m okay with the notion of waiting (be it to date, have sex, start a relationship, whatever have you) until Penny and I are in separate households. This actually makes the most sense, for a whole host of reasons — many of which have already been mentioned. But, quite frankly, my sex life has been held hostage by this marriage for long enough.

You can see where I become concerned when we are not yet clear on the future of who will stay or go with regard to our house — even though we agree, in principle, upon how that will be determined. And even if we decide that I am able to keep the house, we then have the delicate matter of ensuring that Penny will actually… leave. Within a reasonable time frame.

Hence, my notion that by the end of March, I want to at least have a blueprint on the table.

No, I don’t want to jump into a new relationship. And yes, I understand that if I don’t proceed delicately, it could cause all kinds of problems with us resolving our divorce amicably and smoothly. But having made the decision to get on with my life… I want to get on with my life.

Before I can have a meaningful, adult relationship with an adult woman (yes, this is a backhanded comment regarding Penny), there needs to be space for possibility. My goal is not to rush it, but rather to make sure that I don’t allow my current situation to drift along until outside events allow me to maybe kinda sorta eventually think about it. Do I wait five years, if that’s how long it takes Penny to find a job (for whatever reason)?

No. Hell, no. HELL, NO!

Do I start inviting women out to the movies tomorrow? Well… the income stream problem aside, that’s still not a wise course of action, either.

By the end of March, I should have a clearer notion of what my (and Penny’s) financial situation is shaping up to be, and I want to come to an understanding about what that means for our future living arrangements. Even if I can afford to keep the house… if it doesn’t look like Penny is finding traction, I will probably not seek to keep the house because I don’t want there to be any illusion that we can continue to keep living together as the default option.

Okay, okay, this may have been long winded, but I think I finally got to the point of what’s been on my mind: the point is not to set a timetable for dating so much as set a timetable for changing the default options. How did I stay in this mess for so long? One day at a time. Because the default option, lacking alternative action, was to stay trapped in this marriage. Now, I need to change the default to be that I’m getting on with my life.

That said… let me also spill this other nugget that’s been at the back of my mind:

My University class reunion is this summer. I plan to go, and I plan to visit old friends and new (and maybe even some of my fellow bloggers) around that time. In other words, I’ll be spending time with good, like-minded souls. I’ll likely visit my old stomping grounds in Buffalo, Boston, and Toronto. Maybe do the Vegas blogger meet-up in May. I have no illusions that I’m going to find the love of my life at any of these get-togethers. Or even have a good kiss.

But… is it so much to ask that there be at least possibility?



  1. Mmmm…hope. And faith and trust. You won’t always be alone. There will be someone to share the twilight of your life with. Believe it.

    Now is the most challenging time. You must find yourself before you can ever hope to connect to that other person, the one who’s looking for someone like you.

    There will be lots of dating as you try to find that perfect fit, the other half that makes you whole, the one your soul has been yearning for.

    Relax. Breathe. The best is yet to come.

    And as for that comment on my blog about Penney…I already did. 😉 Thanks for one more reason…

  2. The possibilities will be endless once you’re free of the shackles you’re in now – emotionally mostly, but also physically, financially, etc. And hell, imagine how fun it will be to get away, meet new people, catch up with old people and…well…why stop with a kiss?

  3. Neverrrains, the extra r is on purpose. I can “R”ole my “r” pretty good and it just sounded funny!

    My comment on your post is no comment. You get it. Proceed as you have planned.

    Some nuggets of wisdom, and to clarify what I might have mentioned in one of my earlier replies:

    * The new you is simply who you were, or close to but not quiet there yet, when you met and courted Penny. A little more work “on you” will get you there. Better yet, your goal is to improve yourself to be a better man, and live a better life (and while money helps, that is not what I refer to..).

    * Do not neglect the need for the company of a good bunch of male friends, meet, talk, and in general let steam off the way we men do. Do not talk about your impending divorce ad-nauseum. You can ask them not to bring it up. Get in touch, remind yourself of what it is like to be a single male, nurture your masculine core. Your core is what women will look at. if it has been dormant or lethargic you need to awaken it or shake it up. I am talking about hanging out with real men not boys (or perennial youth).

    * Extrovert? Have you considered joining Toastmasters International? Find a club near you, one that fits your personality and your objectives, and one where people welcome you and make you feel like family. I have given this advise to many…It WILL change your life. it will also give you a forum to talk, speak, tell your story (as much as you care to share) while improving your communication skills. it will also foster life long friendships and provide you with a multiplicity of networking opportunities if you are seeking business or employment.

    * Keep up your blog, but out in your daily routine avoid spending too much time with others enduring similar situations and that dwell on it [face to face]. Do not become perennially mired in break- up / divorce talk. Your friends will get tired of it, you can become bitter and toxic never making progress.

    * Physical fitness is an area you seem to have tackled already. Keep it up!

    All these will invariable bring you in touch with women, meet them, talk to them, befriend them, date them, and the ones you really like, court them. You cannot force any of this however. it will happen naturally and as you heal and grow, restoring your old self and then improving on it other people will notice.

    While is true that you will be divorced and have three kids, this also shows you can commit and care for a family. The right woman for you will value and treasure this. Find those women, this is why giving yourself time is important. One thing I have observed is that whether by choice or due to life circumstances those among my friends who find themselves single consider my short marriage, and my son a life time achievement. So do I [but it did not feel that way when it happened, and received a couple of critiques of so called “friends” who no longer are within my circle of trust!].


  4. Wow.

    Here I was thinking of something to say but Santaslil already said it.

    Good points. All of them!

    You do need to get back to WHO YOU ARE. And part of that is letting go of who you were. It will be a process. You will need to be around someone who gets the whole divorce/single parent process. That will feel comfortable. But you also should remember your hopes and dreams beyond that. What have you always wanted to try that you haven’t because of marriage? The world is your oyster now.

    I totally get the limbo feeling too. My ex and I shared one paycheck long after he moved out. When I finally got a job, we still had to wait for the house to sell. Our divorce wasn’t final until 2 full years after he moved out. I so wanted to move forward and I had to be patient.

    But you’ve been married. You’ve had children. Now, remember you and take your time.

    Enjoy the possibilities!

    • Hi, T. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I sincerely appreciate it!

      The experience that you posted here has given me something to think about. Like your comment regarding needing to be patient, I’d rather things not drag out into a couple of years — but the way things worked out with you sounds, at least… manageable. I can see this kind of path being something along the lines of what we end up pursuing… that, on the one hand, we need to separate, but on the other hand, we need to make sure that both Penny and I and the kids are set up to succeed in our new lives. If it takes a while, that would not be ideal, but at least being on the right path is the important thing.

      Thanks again for dropping by… I’ve enjoyed, as well, and found it very helpful!

  5. It’s time for you to live “your” life…. I think you’re on the right track.

  6. I understand wanting “a good kiss”. I, in no way am ready for any form of relationship, but, ohhh, to have a good kiss.

  7. Firstly…go read and learn about ‘the year of loving myself passionately.’

    Secondly…remember before marriage, when you could be friends with females w/o dealing with jealousy on the part of your gf/spouse? Maybe focus on that first – being friends with women who just don’t happen to be friends of Penny.

    When I married The Former Mr., the first that suffered were my friendships with the men in my life. I miss those guys. And I seeing guys as just friends instead of potential dates, etc.

    [Note: I made a minor edit to this comment, after asking Bad Mummy, in order to restore a few words that got lost. –Inris]

  8. Hi NeverRains–I’m a friend of jolene/tb_determined09 and she mentioned that she loved your blog so I’m stopping by! I hope you don’t mind but I would like to comment to you from a female point of view and from the point of view of someone who’s just a mile or two further down the divorce road, okay?

    I remember when my ex and I finally decided it’s over and we’re divorcing. In a way it broke my heart and in a way it was exciting to think of the possibilities. I was so FREE!! As I mentioned to jolene, I could wantonly leave my shoes in the middle of the living room and not be scolded like a child! YAY! Even moreso, it felt like anything was possible and I was only limited by me and my own fears.

    Even the remote possibility that someone might meet me and care for me and enjoy me and want to be with me was SOOOOO exciting!!

    But I do caution you about dating. I understand you are saying that by March you want to see some movement on this topic–jobs being found or decisions who’s moving where… and that once those things are clearer, the option of when to date will be more clear. I do get that. In a way you’re saying, “No dragging this out dear. You/we have made this bed, so we’re moving forward now” and you’ve set a bit of a deadline if you will in your head. That’s cool.

    The part that raises a little red flag to me is the dating itself. Let’s say you go on a date, have a good time, like the girl, and at the end of the night lean in for a kiss…and it’s a DOOZEY! You two are adults and can do what happens, but if you’re in it for the kiss and maybe more, and she’s in it for an emotional connection to someone, you are setting up your date for hurt big time. Now, my guess is that it’s not your intention or nature to hurt the gals you date, so can I make a suggestion that you consider? BEFORE things get to the kiss and “all hot and heavy” you may want to make it clear where you and what you hope for/expect. Back in my single days I had no issue with a guy who said right out that he was looking for some companionship and sex (kind of like friends with benefits), because that was HONEST. What I hated was a guy who covered up his intentions, a guy who used me to get a lay, or a guy who said he wanted a relationship and then “oops! changed his mind” and didn’t really give a hoot about me at all.

    YOU may be in a place for companionship and honestly–some casual sex–but at least be sure that’s where your date is at too. See what I mean? Think of the girl and who you might be hurting before you date her.

    • Hi, Cindy.

      Thanks so much for stopping by. I’ve likewise started looking at your site(s) because of Jolene’s recommendation.

      And yes, I appreciate hearing “the female point of view.” It helps more than I can say. The thing is, I want to do better for myself than I have been, and I also want to do well by Penny and my kids. *AND*, as you mention… I likewise want to do right by anyone I spend time with.

      I still believe it’s possible to take better care of myself than I have been without having to be selfish. It’s just part of who I am — and who I’m not. I’m not a heartbreaker. I don’t want to be careless with other people’s hearts, just as I don’t want them to be careless with mine.

      So thanks for the reminder! And yes, I’ll continue to strive to be a good guy. Because, quite frankly, that’s the kind of guy I want to be.

      (A good guy who, nonetheless, doesn’t have to sleep alone for the rest of his life….)

  9. I don’t think it’s too much to ask at all, Seattle. You are being way more level-headed and thorough, and thoughful of Penny and her feelings, etc., than most… including myself. Keep up the good work… and, you’ll be fine. You have things to look forward to… like good kisses….

  10. Loving reading all the comments here, and I agree with bits and pieces of all of them…and I definitely agree with “you need to find who you are” (again) before you launch into dating…and I think you know that, thus the purpose of this post, and aren’t looking to rush into anything. I think you are on the right track, you’ll jump in when you’re ready.

  11. How old are the kids? And if you are dating please keep it from the kids for a while…certainly not while you are living together…and for several months afterwards.

    I agree too that you need to settle in and get through some more of the growth that goes with this kind of a break up before jumping into a relationship. Don’t think of it as wasting a year of your romantic life but healing yourself so that when romance does come into your life you’ll be able to handle it and embrace it.

    Penny’s inability or unwillingness to be intimate with you (emotionally and physically) is about HER. Not about YOU. She’s unable. She’s unwilling. It doesn’t mean you aren’t worthy. It means she’s screwed up. You need to believe that wholeheartedly…it’s hard. I know…

    Plus, to be frank, that relationship after a marital breakup…the one that makes you feel whole again? It really sucks when it goes sour. Really sucks. Like it almost hurts worse than the divorce. Because it was great there for a time and now…

    Sorry…I digress into my own life there for a moment 🙂

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