Dear Wayne and Wanda,
After a five-year marriage, I got divorced a couple of years ago. The end of my marriage wasn’t as clean as it could have been — we broke up and got back together a couple of times, had trouble deciding and agreeing to end things, and ended up dragging things on for a while. But breaking up was hard, and sometimes I still wonder if we did the right thing, even though the marriage had problems.
My girlfriends literally got me through the divorce and helped me survive. They took me to brunch, came over and watched movies, took me for pedicures — all the things girlfriends are supposed to do. Most importantly, they recognized I needed time and space to process things. They never forced me into conversations I wasn’t ready for.
But things have changed abruptly. It’s suddenly like my friends are all in on some kind of conspiracy to get me a new guy. It started with them asking if I want to date (I don’t) or if I was at least interested in meeting up with someone “just for fun” (I’m not). One girlfriend then set up a Tinder account on my behalf and “revealed” this to me over drinks after she had connected with and carried on chats with several guys. Ugh! I deleted the account. Last weekend when I showed up to meet the girls, there was a man at the table. Surprise! He was someone they were just sure I would connect with. I didn’t.
I have told them repeatedly I’m not interested in dating or anything right now. My life is fine without it. How can I get them to back off without seeming ungrateful for everything they’ve done for me?
Despite our friends having the best intentions, sometimes they sure push the wrong buttons, huh? At least you’re keeping the fact that they do care about you in perspective as they bombard you with unwanted advice. And Tinder profiles. And surprise blind dates. Sheesh.
Let’s turn this conversation away from them, to you. You said it’s been two years since the divorce. Hopefully someone has already said this out loud to you, but just in case: There is no timeline that applies to everyone when it comes to dating after divorce. Some people want to jump in immediately; some tread carefully, and slowly; others may take years to re-enter the dating pool, if they ever do at all. So above all, don’t back down from giving yourself the permission and space to take this at your own pace.
That said, you should ask yourself — and honestly address — this question: What are your hesitations? If it’s a matter of truly being disinterested in relationships, OK. Or maybe you’re relishing independence after several years of dysfunction. Fantastic.
But there are other reasons that might warrant a deeper look on your part. Is it, at all, a matter of feeling scared? Or having low self-esteem? Or doubting your own merits after what you yourself described as a tough divorce? If so, I’d encourage you to probe these issues with a professional — whether a counselor or an online support group or a dating coach (yes, that’s a thing). There are plenty of folks out there to help you feel solid on your feet again and ready to put yourself out there.
Well, your friends really care, so you’ve got that going for you. Like, really, really care. They care so much, it’s obnoxious!
Sure, they’re totally overstepping, but their hearts are in the right place — they just want to see you happy.
And would it kill you to loosen up just a little bit and maybe talk to one of these guys they’ve reeled in for you? You never know when you’re going to meet someone special and you might have golden opportunities slipping by when you avoid these potential connections.
Make rules for your friends to abide by: no surprises. Have the meet-ups in group settings, around your friends, so there’s a safety net and level of relaxation. Stay honest with yourself and everyone else — you’re not ready for anything serious right now. Be yourself and see what happens.
Who knows? You might feel some sparks and realize you just may be ready for romance again. Or at least building a friendship and seeing where it goes. If you don’t make a connection, you don’t — nothing lost. And if you feel flat inside and don’t care about the meetings, well, that’s confirmation you aren’t ready. At the very least, if you get to know a few single guys now, you can avoid the duds once you do start getting out there again and seeing them on all the dating sites.