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?”
“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?
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