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Divorcees don’t fall head-over-heels in love

A young couple, hand-in-hand and dewy-faced in love, stood in line at Peet’s before Sara and me the other morning.

“You know, that’s one of the things that sucks about divorce,” she said, gesturing with her head to them.

“I’m not sure what you mean. Divorcees still hold hands.”

“No, I mean love.”

“Divorcees still love! I do, anyway.”

“I mean that kind of love, that can’t-keep-your-hands-off-each-other, love-stuck, obsessive, eye-gazing, falling head-over-heels kind of love, like when we were younger.”

“We still fall in love like that. Plus, I absolutely cannot keep my hands off of Sean,” I sniffed.

“No we don’t.”

“How can you say that?”

“Because its true, that’s why. We know too
much now, and there’s too much at stake
because we’re moms.”     

“Well, yeah, but we still fall head-over-heels in love.”

“Have you, now?”

Hmm, well, I had to think about that. I’ve fallen head-over-heels in lust — no question about that. Lots of times. But love? Not really.

Is Sara right?


We all learn from breakups, and most of us
have a fair share of them before we get married. But a divorce is the Big B, Breakup with a capital B. No way you can go through a divorce and not have it shape the way you feel about men, love, the idea of “happily-ever-after,” life itself and ourselves. It’s easy to turn  bitter and that flavors every new relationships; or we get bitter — and frustrated — after we start dating again, and if you’ve been married a long time, dating again at midlife is always a shocker.

It’s like waking up on an alien planet without a Transporter to beam you back home.

Sometimes, we can’t keep the past out of the present; we compare whomever we’re with who our ex, either fearing ways in which they’re similar or looking for ways in which they don’t quite measure up.

And let’s not forget fear — we’re afraid we’ll get hurt again and have to go through all that all over again, when we’re older and exhausted just by the idea of trying to meet someone! So we keep a little of ourselves back, tucked safe behind a slightly hardened heart; each time we “fail” at a new relationship (it feels like failure, even if we shouldn’t think of it that way), a little more gets hardened and a little more gets hidden.

Divorcees don’t delve head first and fall fully madly, wonderfully foolishly into love.

Especially if we have kids. They add all sorts of complications into the mix, the major one being that we don’t want to drag them through another breakup. So we are really, really, really cautious — and we should be.

Anyone we fall in love with has to not only be someone we love and who loves us back, but someone who’ll be nice to our kids, even if they don’t love each other (but we’d do anything we can to make that happen!)

So, is Sara right — can we ever fall in love like we did when we were younger if we’ve gone through a divorce?

Photo © david brown –

Bring on the comments

  1. jim
    Twitter: mobilene

    I don’t want to fall in love like that again. I’m looking for a more mature love, one that is grounded in reality.
    .-= jim´s last blog ..Chicago from the heights =-.

  2. Kat Wilder says:

    Oh, totally, Jim; I did forget about that …

  3. I agree with Jim too.

    And you also said it well also, we no longer FOOLISHLY fall in love.
    .-= Mindy@SingleMomSays´s last blog ..You Can Call Me Baby… =-.

  4. Don says:

    Of course you can!! The ability to love is what makes us like God. It is, perhaps, the only glimpse we are permitted of eternity…

    I fell in love last year and it was like the first time I had ever loved…and even though it didn’t work out, it was awesome to feel those feelings again and to know that love did exist in the world. I am now seeking to find it again. This time last year, I would have said that it didn’t exist at all…and now I know better!
    .-= Don´s last blog ..One-eyed George and The Jump Team!!! =-.

  5. Kat Wilder says:

    Do you want to fall head-over-heels in love, or settle into a mature love?

  6. Little Ann says:

    Hi Kat and all,

    I have to agree that the post-divorce love experience is different…funny that I have been thinking about that recently anyway. My divorce is fairly recent (~2 years) and my new relationship started about a year ago. I think this relationship is so much more realistic, due to the divorce experience, and based upon emotional and personal support as physical interaction, though all are there quite well represented!

    Love is wonderful, and while it is unfortunate that lessons learned can take a while, I am glad that it can return, when it looked like it was long gone.

    I don’t have kids, but do respect that factor…my new love does.

  7. Jim Everson says:

    I wouldn’t mind falling foolishly if I could be sure I wasn’t falling for the foolish.
    .-= Jim Everson´s last blog ..Lies, All Lies =-.

  8. Kat Wilder says:

    Mindy — Well, I do reserve the right to be foolish from time to time, because it’s gonna happen anyway! 😉

    Don — Wait — are you saying there was a time when you felt that love did’t exist in the world? I always feel love, even if I don’t have a partner because love comes from so many sources (including myself).

    Little Ann — welcome here! Well, I am happy you have found love again; it is the most wonderful thing even though it can rip us apart. Yeah, divorce does teach us a lot about ourselves and life. Still, I’d rather learn those lessons another way! 😉

    Jim — You’re too smart to fall for the foolish, although anyone who didn’t fall for you would be foolish.

  9. Don says:

    There was a time I didn’t believe in true love between a woman and a man. I wondered if it just wasn’t the rush of meeting someone new and wore off over time. I had been through several relationships that hadn’t worked out and had thought I had found love a few times….then I met a lady last year that made my heart feel real love…and though that one didn’t exactly work out like I wanted, I realized that the heart has the genuine capacity to love…it is what makes us like God. It is, perhaps, the closest glimpse we are permitted of eternity.
    .-= Don´s last blog ..One-eyed George and The Jump Team!!! =-.

  10. Crissi
    Twitter: Santarosamom

    Love at first sight? Well, I believe we are still capable of crushing at first sight. But we’re definitely more grounded in the fact that we’ve already been ground to a pulp from a divorce (yet it’s still possible to keep choosing with our broken people pickers). And when it comes to the kind of can’t keep your hands off each other, seeing stars in our eyes, living truly madly deeply, I still believe that’s possible. But this time it comes slowly (and not at first sight thanks to our wise, cautious hearts) as we get to know the other person and realize that they actually do fit with our lives, and won’t put us through the wringer like Mr. Wrong.
    .-= Crissi´s last blog ..Is it mean to punish kids with chores? =-.

  11. amy says:

    i wish this were true. it’s not for me. unfortunately, i have fallen foolishly, head over heels, can’t keep our hands off each other, can’t stop thinking about him, etc. etc. etc. and so far, it’s only caused heartache. but i can’t seem to stop myself. having kids has nothing to do with it–i’m a responsible bread-winning parent (unlike some um, exes i could mention) but i still have a crazy heart. sigh.
    .-= amy´s last blog ..a time for reflection =-.

  12. BigLittleWolf
    Twitter: BigLittleWolf

    We do know more. And there is more at stake – not only our kids, but our bruised hearts. And our finances. What’s left of them. And worse – our faith in each other, in our institutions, in trust – as something we can believe in.

    A great deal depends upon the nature of the divorce and the years that follow, in my opinion. Those with amicable divorces (and no need to attempt to enforce support agreements at great cost (of all sorts) are more likely to let down barriers and let in another heart.

    The rest of us? It’s individual, I suppose. But I’d say the likelihood of falling head-over-heels is reduced. Time, time, time and a slow process of trusting is the only thing possible.
    .-= BigLittleWolf´s last blog ..Monday Morning Moaning. Complaint Department is Open. =-.

  13. Carmelo says:

    Fell head-over-heels in love at 20. Again, mid-divorce, at 45. Again, post-divorce, at 47 for what I hope will be the last time.

    It’s that “can’t-keep-your-hands-off-each-other, love-stuck, obsessive, eye-gazing, falling head-over-heels kind of love, like when we were younger.”

  14. Honey
    Twitter: honeyandlance

    I haven’t been divorced (or married), but when I look back at that can’t-keep-your-hands-off-each-other, love-stuck, obsessive, eye-gazing, falling head-over-heels kind of love that I felt when I was younger, I don’t consider that feeling love at all anymore. I consider it a sign the person’s wrong for you 🙂