No one doubts that going through a divorce is devastating. For months, sometimes years, people experience intense stress, fear, anger, and sadness. But there are silver linings of divorce, one in particular that I think is commonly experienced by divorced men. Here is a comment I received on my website, Divorced Girl Smiling, from a divorced man:
Wait until you're divorced and you meet someone who makes you feel desired. OMG. You realize just how terrible it's been. Mine, we had it once a week, then two, then once a month, finally it got to where I couldn't even remember. The rejection was expected and wasn't worth it anymore. My new lady friend loves having sex and I'm having a hard time keeping up with her! Wish I had met her a long time ago.
How this divorced man feels is very typical, and I hear countless similar stories. The easiest way for me to explain why is to offer a common scenario:
A couple has been unhappy for a long time. One or both might have tried to save the relationship by suggesting counseling, and maybe the couple goes and just doesn't find it effective. So, they sort of just co-exist for awhile (sometimes years) not really knowing how to get out of the marriage, or too afraid to get out. One person might cheat. There is very little communication, a walking-on-eggshells type of environment, no affection, and of course, no sex.
Maybe one of the people tries to bring romance and sex back into the relationship, but is always turned away, either because his or her spouse is having an affair, or there is just too much resentment present, which has turned into putting up a wall and not caring. The person who tries bring back the sex and romance is left with low self-esteem, sadness and hopelessness caused by the rejection.
Then comes the divorce. Now the person who was rejected is feeling unattractive, unworthy of love.
It is not until someone shows interest in the person that it even dawns on him or her that they aren't dead, and that they still have a chance for romance and sex, and maybe even love.
I cannot even count the number of divorced men and women I have talked to who have experienced this, myself included.
When I was first getting divorced, (it had been several months since my ex had moved out) I was at a party with a girlfriend, and her husband's coworker came up to me and started talking to me.
We talked all night, and I mean it when I say it never even occurred to me that he was hitting on me. My self-esteem was so far removed that him wanting to date me never even crossed my mind. He kissed me in my car that night and I swear, I was in disbelief. We ended up dating for a few months and are still good friends.
The point of my story is that this sweet guy (the guy who made the comment at the top of this post) was so used to being turned down, that he couldn't fathom a woman finding him attractive.
It is an unexpected gift of divorce. People who have been treated and neglected so badly are shocked but delighted that someone desires them. Even if the relationship doesn't work out, it doesn't matter. It brings you back to life.
The unexpected gifts seem very sad to me, but at the same time they are inspiring because it shows that when you get divorced, you don't die. You live! In fact, sometimes you end up so much happier than you ever could have imagined, even though you never wanted your divorce.
I remember a divorced guy saying to me, "When I was married, I used to say to my wife, 'Just treat me as nice as you treat the Starbucks barista.' I would have settled even for that." I think he is engaged now.
Feeling desired and getting attention from the opposite sex after feeling neglected and unloved is perhaps one of the very very very few good things that comes with divorce. It signifies a glimmer of hope and a happy future that includes not only the ability to feel young and alive again, but the promise that there is someone out there who might love you romantically again.
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of her blog, Divorced Girl Smiling, and the comedic divorce novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase. She also writes feature stories, along with the weekly dating and relationships column, Love Essentially for Chicago Tribune Media Group local publications. Pilossoph lives in Chicago. Oh, and she's divorced.