Sunday, January 4, 2015

In the Dating World, Which is Worse: "Divorced" or "Single and Never Married"?

I used to fear that my “Divorced” label would make people – especially potential suitors – judge me. Commitment issues. Baggage. Damaged goods.

Recently I have been wondering about the implications of the “Single and Never Married” label. Commitment issues? Baggage? Unemotional psycho?

Yes. This. Always!
...but, can you be too single? 

This is weighing on my mind because of the new guy I’m seeing. Here’s the scoop.

I met Ryan in early November at a happy hour with a mutual friend. He was in town making final arrangements for his cross-country move back to Ford. (We had actually lived in Ford at the same time several years ago.) We hit it off so he got my number. Over the next three or four weeks while he packed up his life out West, we texted a little, and then more and more. By the time he arrived back in Ford in early December, we were in contact daily.

A few days after his return, Ryan and I met for drinks; he was cuter than I remembered. Yes! Next date was dinner, complete with him picking me up, opening the car door for me, and ordering for both of us. For our next date, he came over for takeout and a movie, which obviously led to some making out. He CALLED ME (did you know that people still do that?) on Christmas Day, just to wish me a merry Christmas. We have hung out several more times – including New Year’s Eve and my small post-birthday gathering.

Sidenote: I’m 35 now. A grownup in her mid-30s. WTF. Moving on!

  1. He is college educated.
  2. He makes as much or more money than I do. 
  3. He’s nine years older than me.
  4. He lives alone.
But there's more!

Conversation is natural and genuine. He likes to write!! He is totally a grownup with a real job and a nice apartment but he also likes to smoke a little weed here and there. (This combination is hard to find and I'm a huge fan.) I like how he dresses and he wears cool glasses. He remembers everything I say, including dumb shit like my love for The Bachelorette. He gets along well with his family, including his sisters. The physical chemistry is hot; I know this is important to anyone, but it’s crucial for me to uncover as soon as possible based on the demise of my marriage.

Yes, so far, things are pretty… normal, and I mean that in the very best way! Things with Ryan are just relaxed and enjoyable. I must say, it’s exciting and fun and scary to actually like a guy again. I’m not seeing anyone else. Last time this happened was with Aaron a year ago!

But here’s the thing you guys… Ryan is 44-years-old and has the Single and Never Married label. It seems he hasn’t even had a big relationship! Fair or not, his lack of relationship history raises eyebrows.

Could this be why a person is perpetually single?
Part of me finds his lack of relationship experience very appealing. We are on the same page that being single is not bad – in fact, it can be terrific if you’re at peace with your life and choices. I like that he isn’t one of those people who needs to be in a relationship just to be in a relationship. (After all, I have only really had two boyfriends in my life: the guy I lost my virginity to in 1998 and then my ex-husband, who I started dating in 2005.) Presumably, Ryan has less baggage so there are fewer ghosts of ex-girlfriends for me to battle.

On the other hand, I find his lack of relationship experience a little disconcerting. I’m all for being independent and not “needing” a relationship, but what about choosing to be brave enough to have your heart open? What about experiencing the terrifying thrill of being vulnerable to the person you love? Does he know what it’s like to have sex with someone you love so much that you feel like you could just burst? Does he know how to stay by a woman's side for more than a couple of weeks or months?

Then, I think of my ex-husband, who might be in the dating world. Max is attractive, smart, has a real job, and, OK, he has the Divorced label. Otherwise, he seems like quite a catch. Max is a catch… if you aren’t into physical or emotional intimacy. 

Superficially speaking, Max could seem like a better potential boyfriend than Ryan, but you and I both know how very wrong Max ended up being for me.

What do you think, dear reader? Is assuming commitment or other dating issues from the Single and Never Married person any more justified than from the Divorced person?

Is it a red flag for a person to be in his or her 40s (or whatever age you pick) with no real relationship experience? Would you assume the person is weird/overly picky/commitment phobic? 

Or would you view the person as a sort of clean slate, free of the messiness of past love and heartache and patient enough to wait for the real deal?
Our Three Peas


  1. One thing I've learned after meeting so many different kinds of people in this life is not to judge by the appearance/label of a person. Get to know the story, the who, the why, etc., before judging. Everyone comes from a different place, has had different experiences, and we all just play the hand we're dealt the best we can.
    My now (2nd) husband hadn't been married, or had a relationship longer than 4 months before dating me in his 30's. I thought the same thing, 'ok, what is WRONG with this guy?' but he just didn't force it if it didn't work for him. It took some getting used to at first, but since I was already married and an impatient person, I told him I need to be very direct about what I need and want. So I just told him. He's a brutally honest person, so that works for us.
    I don't think being Divorced or Never Married needs to come with stigma. Everyone has a story, a reason for how their life went down, and we're all different. We're all in this together, just trying to make the best of it. With a little communication, we can get the details and decide from more than just a few words on a dating sight :)
    Good luck getting to know Ryan, he sounds great!

  2. You are a case in point -- a person could be single because he or she CHOOSES to be. (And good for you!).
    I will continue to dish on Ryan... let's hope the stories stay happy!

  3. You were already married, impatient, and direct? Are you ME?! :)
    I love your point that neither label need come with a stigma. I was married but I'm not a hot mess commitment phobe. Thank you for the reality check and for stopping by my blog!

  4. Great post, Kat! When I was exploring online dating last year, the "single, never married" guy in his 40s scared me off a bit as someone who was divorced and thus had some "baggage" (not to mention kids, but that's another story). I assumed these men were certified bachelors, workaholics, etc. BUT having read your post, I can definitely see the other side. Ryan certainly seems to be interested in a relationship now, and that's what counts, right? I think the important thing is to communicate openly about it, which it appears you guys are. Good luck!

  5. I think you've already made your decision on that one. How would it be really if you judged him for his history and expected him not to for yours. Wipe the slate, move forward and don't look back. As long as you're both happy, it makes no difference.

  6. Thanks for reading, Liz. I know, it's easy to make assumptions based on a person's history -- but does one's history necessarily represent when he wants his future to be? Hard to say...

  7. Excellent points, Kira!!! I told him that I've done plenty of casual dating, and I'm now hoping to find a relationship (though, I'm certainly not going to try to make something it's not). He knows this, and we are still hanging out, so I guess he is open to seeing if what he have could turn into a relationship.

  8. That is what I am trying to do. :) Since writing this entry, I'm actually feeling much better about the situation! Blogging FTW!

  9. After a few dates, I would certainly ask him. He may be ready now where he wasn't before, or he may give you a commitment phobic answer. You'll have to make that determination if you're satisfied with it. Being older and single isn't always a bad thing, just like being married isn't always a good thing. Trust your instincts. God gave them to us for a reason. Thank you for linking up with Turn it Up Tuesday.

  10. I told him that I have done plenty of casual dating, and while I'm not going to try to make something that it's not, I am ready for a relationship. He keeps asking me out, so... And you're right, I have instincts for a reason. I'm getting much better at listening to them.

  11. Don @ HowYouCanFindLoveJanuary 19, 2015 at 2:38 PM

    Everyone has their own story, so it's not really fair to label divorced or perpetually single as a red flag. However, they do become red flags once you start asking questions and learning about them.

    For instance, divorce could just mean things didn't work out and 2 people grew apart. Or it could mean that they refuse to compromise, are emotionally immature, etc. Just like perpetually single could mean he was focused on his career or it could mean he is commitment phobia and leaves before things get serious.

    The only way to find out is to ask questions. For me, I didn't get married until I was 34 and before that, lived alone. For me, it was hard merging routines. You definitely get set in your ways when you live alone for so long and it's hard to change them when someone comes into your life. As time has passed, I've learned and adapted and things are great with us.

  12. It's a tough line to walk -- trying to know the person better, but at the same time, not dredging up the past, which really might not be relevant to the present. I'm doing my best to get to know and understand him, but to be honest, it's not that easy!.

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