There seems to be a common feeling among divorcees who are reentering the dating world, and that's that we are somehow less worthy than the other bachelors and bachelorettes who have yet to make a trip down the aisle. Regardless of the reasons surrounding the divorce or the fact that we were trying to do right by ourselves and/or our kids, divorce is a major blow to the ego. And it can creep into our new relationships if we don't recognize and deal with it accordingly.
You might even start to fall into a distorted way of thinking about romance, as I did. All of those hard and fast rules about dating you used to have start to look more like general guidelines. And can you really afford to stick by all of them now? With that divorced status looming over your head? This late in the game? Don't follow my example -- I began smudging the lines and accepting less than I deserve in the dating arena.
I was never the type of girl to chase a guy -- it just seemed like too much work and a waste of time. I figured if a guy really liked me, then he'd let me know. And if he didn't, then we could both move on. Logical, right? Well, it worked really well for me for a long time. I saw this romantic trope of chasing all around me -- in the movies, the pop songs, and even in real life -- but I knew it wasn't for me. I resisted chasing in high school, and held my ground in college. It wasn't until I entered that unknown realm of post-divorce dating that I finally caved.
He was dreamy, and there was a backstory to which I could probably sell Nicholas Sparks the rights (I'm just going to need someone cool to play me in the movie, ok?). And he was also unavailable. Not unavailable in the sense that he had a girlfriend or wife (that I know of. Nothing would surprise me these days.), but in the sense that sometimes we could talk for hours at a time and sometimes he wouldn't reply to my texts or calls until the next day. And planning a date was akin to playing a game of Google calendar Jenga. The old me would have called it quits in the early stages of phone tag and musical dates, but post-divorce me persisted.
He would forget to text or call, and I would check on him to make sure he was ok (I'm cringing as I write this, just so you know). He would cancel plans at the last minute, and I would sympathize with whatever excuse he had concocted. I was chasing him, and he had all the power, and we both knew it.
I actually recognized that I was chasing him early on. Why did you continue to do it, then, you ask? Well, I bought into a couple of myths about chasing. First, I bought into the romance of the chase. Maybe I was chasing him because I felt more strongly for him than I had for anyone else. Maybe all of this might just be worth it in the end -- we're taught from an early age that hard work always pays off. Why would dating be any different.
And I won't lie to you. It was pretty exhilarating for a while. When that long awaited text or call would come through, it was as if I had won a prize. When we would finally make it out on a date, the chemistry was undeniable. There was just something so enticing about obtaining the seemingly unobtainable.
The second myth I bought into was that divorcees are synonymous with quitters. "If you would have tried harder at your marriage, then you'd still be together." Raise your hand if you've heard that. Now use that hand and slap the person who said it (kidding, kidding). This was a destructive notion (that I've since dispelled of) that affected how I approached the dating scene. I didn't want to be seen as a quitter again. If chasing was what it took, then chasing was what I would do.
Well, I'm here to tell you that there is no romance in chasing a person. There might be some shame, maybe some self-loathing, but no romance. Oh, I fell for the guy. I fell hard. And I fell alone. Whether or not he couldn't or just wouldn't love me, there's no telling. I would have had to chase him down for an answer to that, and I've hung up the ol' running shoes.
You see, after I'd wasted several months of my life alternating between chasing him and waiting on him, I finally found my backbone again. I rediscovered my self-worth and knew that those games were not for me. I'm 30, raising two kids, working full-time, and planning for a bright future. I don't have time for that foolishness. Even though I knew it was the right choice, it was still difficult to end it, and I still feel the repercussions of it to this day. The lows were really low, but the highs were really high, and I was pulling for it to all even out in the end. I was hoping for it to conclude more like a Nora Ephron movie and a little less like an Adele song.
So I've learned my lesson the hard way, it seems. Oh, I'll still enjoy the romcoms where the protagonist carries a torch for his or her love for years and it all works out in the end. And then I'll laugh with my girlfriends about how much better fiction is than real life. I've experienced it firsthand, and there is simply no romance in chasing someone. The real romance lies in telling someone exactly how you feel and what he or she means to you. It is dependability and stability. Romance may be a long and winding road, but it is no roller coaster.