Waiting for Next Time

Comments 39


One of the hardest parts of divorce is coping with the realization that you have to start over.

Aside from the internal brokenness and misery it causes, we must wake up and deal with the ugly truth: I have no idea what tomorrow is going to look like, and I’m sad, angry and afraid.

And then you pee your pants and maybe cry a little, too.

Divorce isn’t just a marriage ending and family breaking apart. It’s the total dismantling of every dream you’ve ever had. Every hope, every goal, every plan—vaporized.

It feels like you lost everything because your brain and body can’t tell the difference. It’s really hard, but we all have to do it sooner or later: We have to pick ourselves up off the floor and start building new hopes, new goals and new plans from scratch.

Waiting for that next time.

On Dating

Despite meeting some really exceptional women during the past two years I’ve been single and writing here, I have yet to meet even ONE girl with whom I wanted to pursue a long-term relationship and lives close enough where we could see one another and build something.

The primary reason for that is that I’ve been a massive chickenshit about introducing myself to people I want to meet. Something about walking up to a pretty girl and introducing myself has proven a terrifying proposition. Historically, I always imagine her being really annoyed that I’m bothering her and thinking I’m a fat and ugly loser.

Learning about, and coming to mental grips with my ADHD diagnosis (and mind-focusing meds that help quell most of the little self-doubting voices) combined with a more-vigorous fitness plan that has me looking and feeling better, will help me overcome a lot of these mostly irrational fears.

I’m not really a fat and ugly loser. In fact, if you can get past my height, you probably want to make out with me. And I think 100-percent of the girls I would ever be interested in dating would be kind, flattered and appreciative of me saying hi and introducing myself.

Because so many people are scared to do this, most people resort to online dating where it feels safer and less scary to start conversations because they get to do so from the safety of the keyboard. But if you’ve ever participated in online dating, you know how sucky and unnatural it is.

Online dating strips me of everything I value about myself. I’m not going to let internet chicks decide how dateable I am based on my height, a few photos (which are always uglier than the real me), and a 100-word sales pitch.

It made me feel shitty in the early days of being single and I’m glad I haven’t reneged on my pledge to never do it again.

But let’s face it: Dating is critical. It has to happen. I’m not going to be single forever. That sounds terrible. I can have cheap flings, I guess. Some people do that. Like online dating, that also makes me feel shitty, so I’d rather not.

I don’t think there’s any getting around it: Sooner or later, I’m going to have a girlfriend, and possibly a wife. I figure I better try to meet her before some tall guy with a ridiculously huge package scoops her up.

My friend visited me from Florida a couple weeks ago, and he’s 36 and single like me. He likes to keep dating superficial because of how hard it is for him to deal with restarting from scratch each time he emotionally invests. Every relationship is the same, he says. They meet and have fun, and start seeing one another regularly and building some semblance of an almost-boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, then BAM, it’s over. She runs away or whatever.

And it crushes him. And it’s happened so many times now, that he doesn’t want to put himself through it anymore. It’s not so much the loss. It’s the agony of waiting for next time.

I was unemployed for 18 months about five or six years ago. That exact same thing happens with potential job opportunities, and it guts you and saps your will to live every time you go through a close-but-no-cigar scenario.

You build these dreams of this great new job, and feeling self-respect and your wife being proud of you again, and then someone else gets the job, and setting yourself on fire doesn’t sound so bad.

You have to start from scratch again. Pick yourself up off the floor and try again.

My favorite basketball team is one loss away from losing the NBA Finals. The Cleveland Cavaliers are going to have a hard time winning the next two games required to win the championship. Should that unfortunate situation arise tomorrow or Thursday, it’s not just the loss that will sting. I’m not even sure it will be the worst part.

It’s the Waiting for Next Year. Ugh.

The guy I hang out with the most, an awesome girl I know in Chicago, my son’s mother, a local platonic girlfriend and probably a bunch of other people who manage adulthood better than I do, are in relationships now.

It magnifies the challenge before me. This mission I have to create an extraordinary life of contentment for myself, my son and whoever ends up coming along for the ride.

There’s no going back. Only forward.

First, you get up.

Dust yourself off.

Choose a direction.


Then run.

The running feels good. Not away from something. Toward something. We just don’t know what yet.

What comes next?

Maybe we fly.

I have no idea what tomorrow looks like.

Only that I’m not sad. I’m not angry. I’m not afraid.

Because everything’s going to be okay. Maybe it already is.

39 thoughts on “Waiting for Next Time”

  1. Dude – ….how is it you can take all the yuck that I am PRESENTLY feeling and give me something hopeful to look to? this is exactly why I am such a loyal follower. Do you already have a “if we’re still single in eleven years, lets have pact to marry each other” list started cuz I wanna be on it. LOL! (wink)

      1. Because I’m super-hopeful, yo. I don’t know. Everyone who has gotten divorced in the past three years totally gets this, because pretty much everyone experience different versions of the same thing.

        My ex-wife and I sort of had an agreement like that during our college years, ironically, but it never came to that.

        I am not likely to create that list, but I promise to let you know if that changes!

  2. completelyinthedark

    You know, this is hitting on themes I’m exploring myself. What’s felt good is ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING, like fixing up my condo for sale (listed just today), actually having a lunch date with a single mother (who may end up being more of a friend … well, OK I guess that’s better than nothing) and making the calls, emails and connections enough to finally land a paying gig (going on 5 months without now).

    Moving forward. Doing something. Letting expectations go. And making sure I write nearly every day, ask myself questions about how I can help others and by extension maybe myself.

    Man it’s tough. But it’s all I can do at this point. 🙂

    1. We’re not so different, Mike. Thank you for being around and reading this stuff, and sharing yourself.

      How’d that lunch date go?

      1. completelyinthedark

        Meh, she’s attractive but not enough buzz to carry it forward I’m afraid ?

  3. thank you for the interesting and straightforward sharing of this journey you are on that so many of us have traveled. My good friend married out of desperation because his friends were all finding someone and he basically panicked, now finds he has made a huge mistake. I am in my second marriage but I learned we have to learn to be happy in our own world before we jump into someone else’s. Thank you again for the very fine writing.

    1. Thank you so much for the nice note.

      I think MOST people marry, not out of desperation so much, but from this social or cultural pressure to get married after high school or college.

      It just seems like that’s what you do when you’re too young to know better. And it really wouldn’t be as big of a problem if we were arming all the young people with the knowledge they need to succeed. But we’re not.

      We try to teach them math and science and history and language arts and about physical health and how to drive and about money and all that stuff.

      But we don’t try to teach young people the basic tenants of what it takes to make marriage work.

      So a bunch of young people rush in, and then totally break after years of getting it wrong and all the resentment and bullshit that builds.

      It’s a damn tragedy. If I could snap my fingers and fix it, I would.

      Instead, I write silly blog posts on the internet.

      Thank you so much for reading them.

  4. It’s a journey of a thousand little, unremarkable steps. My friend, after years of being married, finally got divorced. It was an unhealthy marriage but my friend had been conditioned to think it was better to be in an unhealthy relationship than no relationship at all. They tried to work things out for another five years until finally, the epiphany hit like a ton of bricks. The relationship cord was severed once and for all. I will tell you, I watched her journey for almost 7 years and she finally has reached the level where she would like to find someone but doesn’t need to have one. Truth be told, it’s kind of a relief for her. She can date with no expectations and enjoy the experience.
    You sound to be a very sensitive, tuned in kind of guy. I’m sure your journey will come to fruition before you realize it. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    1. I’m getting closer every day to the place you’re describing with your friend. It’s really great. 12-13 years with someone and you can develop some co-dependent behaviors. It’s both good and bad, but probably normal.

      I’ve had to relearn many things, and I’m still going through the transition but am really happy with much of the progress I’ve made.

      I didn’t like who I was for a long time.

      Today, I like me.

      I don’t think everyone realizes how critical that is to having a good life.

      I appreciate you reading and commenting very much.

      1. Wonderful response Matt. Liking yourself is factor most often overlooked. Glad to hear you’ve reached that milestone. I think the world would be a better place if we did a little self reflection like you describe.

  5. That’s it, 5 years from now, you and I will get married, Matt! You’ll love Fl…lol. But on the real, I am totally in full agreement with everything that you wrote. It’s tough, it’s rough and we sometimes don’t know which way to go when it comes to life, much less dating. But we’ll get through.

    1. Oooohhh. Two marriage offers in one post. This is awesome.

      I lived in Florida for about four years after college! Greater Tampa. A fine place, and I did like it.

      I came back to Ohio for the people, not the weather!

      Just out of curiosity, what happens in five years?

      1. In 5 five years, we will be 40, 41 respectively, right? I think 5 years is plenty of time to give ourselves time to find, “THE ONE.” If, after our 5 years is up and neither of us has anyone, then we can marry each other, blend families and move to a neutral state, like Indiana! LOL!!! It’ll be the perfect business marriage with a possibility of love in the clause….LMBO!

  6. Pingback: The great, big Weary. | J4D3D W1LDC4T's Den Of Horrors

  7. Great post and thank you for being so brave and telling us about your journey!!
    About your lenght…I don’t know if your tall or short…but really…
    If someone discusses that you should be taller or shorter??
    in those cases.. you know for sure that is not your soulmate standing in front of you speaking…

    1. I’m about the average male height in the U.S. 5’9. It’s not laughably short. But when you’re online dating, every girl picks 6 feet and taller for guys they want to date, so you’re automatically discounted based on three inches.

      It’s sort of the not-often-told joke that’s behind the name of this blog.

      It really annoyed me. I know all kinds of tall guys that are (forgive the really unkind name-calling) stupid moron douchebags. And the fact that online-dating girls would rule me out and consider them based on three inches, really soured me on the entire process.

      I’m a little defensive and overly sensitive sometimes. But I also know my worth. And I have little interest in letting internet strangers dictate it.

      HOWEVER, if you’re going to be a stubborn and prideful like me, you ALSO have to be bold and courageous out in the real world. I’m hit-and-miss with my courageousness. But I’m getting better all the time. 🙂

  8. Part of me really believes you don’t have a steady relationship because you don’t really want one.
    You’re adorable! How can you not have a girlfriend?
    Start considering the non-locals, maybe? People have relocated for significant others.

    I feel like an ass giving anyone relationship advice. That’s like Miley Cyrus advising girls on how not to turn into a giant Hose Beast.

    1. I love hearing from you. Thank you. Self-confidence was at an all-time low when I started writing here. Two years has gotten me pretty close to the guy I remember being, which is awesome.

      You’re right. I don’t really want a steady relationship. I’m not Find-a-girlfriend-for-the-sake-of-having-one Guy. But I like very much the idea of meeting someone who I WANT to have that with.

      Perhaps in time.

      Thank you very much for reading this, and also calling me adorable, which I enjoy immensely. I hope you’re having a good day.

  9. You know Matt, it is thousands of small steps. Your journey, your self-exploration thousands of small steps. Just like the rest of us. The difference I think is you are actually thinking about it as you put one foot ahead of another, you are ahead of the game.

    On-line dating? Why not? I have several friends and a couple of relatives who have met their partners this way. It doesn’t suck once you figure it out. It is simply using another form of social media to your advantage. You are a fabulous communicator, use your skills to your advantage to start the conversation.

    1. I’m in too deep on this “Online Dating is Bullshit” theme to change course now! 🙂

      I just want to be bold and talk to whoever I want to talk to. It’s not going to work out most of the time.

      But sometimes it will.

      And it’s a personal hurdle I need to conquer. For me specifically, writing notes on the internet is the coward’s way.

      I don’t want to do cowardly things.

      1. I get that, truly. For me, any contact is brave. My friends made me create a profile on one of the dating sites. I agreed so long as I got to create the profile, I had such fun. It is me, through and through. Over the past several months, I figured out the algorithm used, with some help from friends, to create ‘matches’. I answered over 2,000 questions. My profile is rather ‘brutal’ and honest. Anyone who actually reads it and pays attention might actually be worth talking to. So far out of 100+ first contacts, 5 have been worth responding to. But it is fun.

  10. You know what they say….when you stop looking she will appear. Meanwhile you are growing and learning and exploring. All good things.

    1. I don’t disagree with that. It would be an overstatement to say I’m “looking.” If I was, I probably would be online dating because it’s infinitely more efficient than relying on chance encounters.

      As it is, I have plenty to work on at home. 🙂 You’re certainly right about that.

  11. There are many ways to and many circumstances that cause us to start over. What we should do is switch our mindset and not observe these as moments of failure, needing to be rebuilt, but instead as moments of opportunity to improve.
    You compare your situation to those around you, those you know, but they are them and not you. So. Where they are, how they got there and what they’re doing with it all should really have no bearing on you. Save offering you an example of what could potentially be.
    I don’t know why it is so important for people to be coupled, especially right after they uncouple – perhaps, it is to avoid the true task at hand…loving yourself. If you are in a relationship you can divert that self-love, laying it on your partner, and creating a void within yourself (maybe that’s where all those mean, nasty self-doubts come from?).
    Anyways. Be well. And keep investing in YOU. ?

  12. There are very good things about being single. Everything in life is a trade off one way or another.

    I’m not entirely sure I think it’s important for me to be coupled. I think it’s important for me to be super-comfortable and confident in my own skin and talk to whoever I want to talk to. Not everyone is going to want to. I need to get used to that and be okay with it.

    I’ve spent my entire life surrounded by “people like me” (single people throughout school, and then other couples throughout my marriage).

    Now, for the first time ever, I need to work and put effort into creating a balanced, vibrant social life, including dating.

    The mission is more learning how to do that skillfully than it is rushing into another relationship.

    Now, all that said… everything you typed here was super true and I appreciate your encouragement. Thank you. 🙂

  13. the world has a funny way of giving you exactly the right amount of time to become who you were meant to be…and providing the people or the solitude you to achieve that.

  14. I love that this begins and ends with taking care of you. It’s ironic in some ways but the best way to be ready and open to a committed marriage is to be the best single you possible. And I can’t believe anyone is the best them in their 20’s (although I had really nice skin then, alas). You so sound like you are on the “best you” journey. Wishing you safe travels, many adventures and a good traveling companion!

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