I'm at an age now where I've started to see friends and acquaintances break up in what I've called "second wave divorce/separation"."Second Wave" because these people are in their late 40's or early 50's and have been married for a good number of years. "First Wave" events happen 1 to 5 years after people have made commitments to each other and discover that they just weren't compatible in the first place. "Second Wave" break-ups are a little puzzling to me, but I know there are many reasons for them, some very practical and others purely emotional. Perhaps a person wakes up one morning, considers that at 50 years old, he/she isn't immortal after all, and decides to make a drastic change. I'm sure it happens that quickly.
So, when this separation occurs, there are a myriad of functional and emotional issues to be dealt with. Given time, most people deal with it without too much scarring. And eventually, the proverbial 800 pound gorilla in the room shows itself. Men and women are social animals and want companionship of some sort. If you're so inclined, how do you go about meeting people and dating again? This is a frightening thought.
Self-proclaimed experts on the subject have many suggestions. Work, bars, church, school, social organizations ... the grocery store. Basically, it boils down to professional and social venues. Work relationships are dangerous for one reason. What if you start dating someone you work with and it just doesn't happen? Pretty awkward to stop dating that person and then see he or she every day afterwards. I don't know a single person who ever formed a lasting relationship from a bar encounter. Church? I don't know. Seems like it would be the same problem as work. Trying to meet someone at a grocery store is just creepy. And social clubs? Why don't you just tattoo "desperate" on your forehead. Maybe school, but I don't know many 50 year olds who are still in school.
Whatever method a person chooses, I have nothing but the highest respect for them. Respect because it takes a tremendous amount of sheer will to step into the dating pool again. If given a choice, I would rather lead an unarmed charge at an enemy machine gun nest than get up the nerve to go out on an actual date. And a lot of people go through a lot of relationships before they find someone who clicks, if they ever do. That's a lot of pain.
Some people try too hard, and I'm convinced from my own experience, it's when you quit trying and just let things go that something does happen. Jan and I had been through our share of crappy relationships and the night we met at a party, neither of us was looking to start another one. And 35 years later, here we still are, not much worse for wear and for my part at least, looking forward to being with her every morning when I get up.
And I hope the same is true for the majority of us. Let's face it ... no matter how shitty our lives seem at times and when we wonder how we manage to go on ...
We still have a date for dinner.