Living Alone and Becoming “Set in Our Ways” After Divorce

Submitted by Delaine

Living soloI’ve always believed it’s healthier to stay single for awhile after divorce verses throwing ourselves into another serious relationship; divorce is a huge life transition and requires time to process.

But while lunching with some girlfriends this past weekend, Hali, my best friend warned: “I think people have to be careful not to get too used to being on their own after divorce. I was only single again for six months, and already I was thinking in terms of MY space, MY things, and doing things MY way.”

My other girlfriend Nikki, 38, and never married, agreed: “I’ve been single so long, I know I’m set in my ways. Sometimes I question if I could ever live with a man…”

Afterward, I started wondering: If we go years without another partner after divorce, are we at risk of becoming too independent – too set in our ways? Does our age have bearing? Does it cause us to be more rigid and habitual?

I’ve grown accustomed to living without a man these past two years. And I like having the closet and dresser to myself. And I like the down-time I have on my own – I think most people do.

But I don’t think I’m becoming ‘rigid’ in my ways – if anything, meeting the changing needs and schedules of my three kids keep me supple, not to mention my work schedule! I think all I’ve done since I got divorced is adapt, so I’ll do just fine some day with a man!

Maybe it’s a lot harder if you’ve been solo a long time and have no kids in the house. I don’t know – I’m not there. So I’ll ask you” Do you think we run the risk of taking ourselves and life too seriously without the ‘chaos’ of other people in our homes?

I like to think that people are adaptive. And I also think that when the right person shares your life and home, he ‘adds’ to your life, not ‘messes it up.’

Then again, maybe I’m too ‘set’ in my thinking. : )

Delaine
www.iamdivorcednotdead.com

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Turning An Unwanted Divorce Into An Opportunity




Comments

  1. 1

    says

    I’ve been divorced for ten years. As of six months ago both my children were grown and gone.
    I’m very set in my ways. I’m enjoying being alone for the first time in 25 years.
    This MY home and MY life and right now I like it just as it is and can’t imagine sharing too much of it with someone else.
    I feel sure that if someone came along and I fell in love I’d be more than willing to move or and make room for him.
    I think the reason we become “set in our ways” plays a big part in whether or not we are open to sharing our lives with someone.
    People who stay single due to fear or anger at their situation are going to have a harder time with a new relationship.
    Those are the people at risk of taking themslves and their lives to seriously.

  2. 2

    says

    It’s your life. YOUR life. I don’t see anything wrong with treating it as your life and not a life that you’re currently keeping warm until another man comes along.
    As long as “being set in your ways” doesn’t cause you problems in general then I don’t see anything wrong with enjoying being single; enjoying having your house and your schedule exactly the way you want them to be.
    There’s no need to live perpetually in a state of being prepared to make compromises in the way you want to have things just in case someone else comes along.
    Independence is a great, great thing. Why not keep your independence while also having a great relationship – you don’t HAVE to live with the man you’re dating.
    There’s so many different ways to define your relationships – I think perhaps as we get older, we come to understand that better and realize that we don’t have to compromise ourselves or our independence to be in a fulfilling relationship. They’re not mutually exclusive.
    And if living together does involve giving up independence and making compromises and changes you’re not happy with then maybe you’re not supposed to be living together anyway. I dunno… it just seems to me that women are expected to be always flexible and that knowing what you want and getting it is a character flaw.

  3. 3

    says

    I think that’s a really good point Anlina – that we don’t ever HAVE to live with a man we date or have a relationship with.
    I think it comes to down to being self-aware – and finding a balance that is healthy that really works for us. I do think people can become creatures of habit though, and we need to push ourselvs out of comhort zones sometimes to see what’s on the other side of living – the joys and the challenges.
    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with enjoying alone time and being independent. But if one starts screaming at kids to stay off the lawn, then she should known she’s taking ‘alone’ too far; the world will bring aloneness to her in a whole new way. :)

  4. 4

    Patrick C says

    I don’t think most women can stay single very long after a divorce (maybe a year or two before they can’t stand not having their own man again). A man can manage staying single a lot better. Most women are too emotionally needy; men are not. All a man really needs is sex occasionally. Men don’t need all the emotional crap that women need on a daily basis. Women need a husband in their life to self-validate their existance (just dating or living with a man isn’t enough).
    Just the thought of potentially being at home alone on the couch or alone sleeping at night is too scary for a woman. Women need a man to talk to, cry on, yell at, have sex, etc… and they want to be able to tell their female friends about their husband. Divorced women don’t like being in a group of women who are married. They feel very insecure and envious. Conversely, single men are usually envied by married men (most of w hom are in bad or failing marriages and probably wish they were single again). I think most women can talk tough and say they can make it without a husband, but I don’t believe that is true at all. Most women will tell you in confidence they hate being single and want to find a husband. The problem is women hang on to their baggage from previous marriages a lot more than men. Men can get over things more easily.
    Women constantly think about things from the past and apply that to whatever is currently going on. Thats why over 75 percent of second and third marriages fail. Men aren’t perfect, but it’s just too damn complicated to get involved with a divorced woman on a second or third marriage, especially is she has kids under the age of 18.
    If you get divorced, your best bet is to just live with someone (don’t get married again). That way, if you split up (and you probably eventually will) it won’t be as complicated and emotionally draining.

  5. 5

    says

    A few facts for you Patrick…not opinion but fact.
    1. 75% of divorced men and 60% divorced women remarry
    2. Men who remarry do so within 3.6 years, women who remarry do so within 3.9 years.
    3. Compared with women, men remarry sooner and more often and generally marry someone a few years younger.
    4. Divorced men have higher rates of remarriage and remarry sooner following divorce than women.
    5. It is true that divorced women are less likely than divorced men to want to remarry (after all, they are happier than the men with being divorced). But both groups do remarry at very high rates–and soon. About 80% of divorced men and 75% of divorced women remarry whether or not they have children, and most do so within three years.
    References:
    StepFamilies by Roni Berger
    http://family.jrank.org/pages/1381/Remarriage-Factors-Affecting-Likelihood-Remarriage-after-Divorce-or-Death-Spouse.html#ixzz0MsPkEFVL
    http://www.psych.ku.edu/dennisk/PF642/Single%20Parenting%20Remarriage%20and%20Blended%20Families.pdf
    http://www.divorcesource.com/CA/ARTICLES/peter1.html

  6. 6

    Carol says

    I became separated 3 years ago after a verbally and physically abusive marriage. Someone I knew from a former work place heard the news, looked me up and convinced me to give him a chance. My divorce became final 8 months after dating this man. He talked of marriage in the beginning and pressured me into becoming engaged. What was I thinking??? I had told him I was very happy on my own and very independent. But that didn’t stop him. I said yes to the engagement over a year ago. Now I want out. I am so happy living by myself it’s gotten to the point I spend less and less time with him and when I do see him I can’t wait to leave. Fortunately, he lives over 2 hours away. I love having my own place, etc., etc. I am 57 and what reason would I have to marry someone and do all the wifey duties!!!? Been there, done that. Things are always good for the first year…however, soon after it changes. Love yourself and be happy!!!

  7. 7

    Rebel Rose says

    I wish I had seen Patrick’s response a year ago but then again, I might have ripped into him. But as I sit here a year later, 2 years after my divorce, I am definitely in a much better frame of mind. I was in a 26 year abusive and difficult marriage. Because of what I went through, I have no plans on remarrying any time soon. I have not dated nor have I wanted to date. I really enjoy my time, freedom and the ability to come and go as I please and spend my money where I see fit with out being given the 3rd degree. I do not have to listen to someone berate me about my looks, cooking and how I parent. It has been wonderful!!! I have accomplished more in the last 2 years than I ever did in the 26 years that I was married. So Patrick, you are very wrong! My ex-husband (a man), on the other hand has been in and out of relationships while we were married and is presently engaged to be married just 2 1/2 years after our divorce.

  8. 8

    says

    Rebel Rose it’s great to hear you’re in a stronger, better place! I too, am still single at the three and a half-year mark into my divorce and though I’ve dated quite a bit, my focus has really been on me and learning to stand on my own. It feels awesome in so many ways. Freeing, empowering, and for the most part, I’m pretty darn happy with who I’ve become. I really don’t believe I’d be feeling this good about myself had I jumped into another relationship sooner; I was a lot more broken that I realized…and to this day, I avoid separated or recently divorced because of same:)

  9. 9

    Donna R. Wood says

    I think I am chiming in a bit on the late side of this conversation, but I think you all will appreciate what I have to say.

    I divorced from an eight year marriage in 1995 – fifteen years ago this November. I have been independent ever since. Like Delaine, in the early years after my divorce I found I was a lot more broken than I realized.

    It was really difficult being alone with three little girls – 2, 5, and 7. I had no job, no money, and nowhere to go. I kicked him out. I made him choose between me and the kids, or his alcohol. He chose the alcohol. What a blow to my heart; not to mention the girls’.

    The hard cold, surface of rock bottom is a real character builder. You find out real fast the incredible strength and resilience that lives inside a woman; and a mother.

    Over the last fifteen years I have become ‘set in my ways’ but, not like the ways of my grandparents. I know who I am, where I am going, and more importantly what I value in relationships; and men. I learned I don’t want a fixer-upper. I value a man who is emotionally, physically, and financially stable. Those men are hard to find – especially in your mid-life.

    I used to worry about spending my golden years alone. (I’m only 42) Now, I don’t worry about it so much. It’s not the important thing. I still date on ocassion, but finding a man is not the most important thing in my life.

  10. 10

    says

    HI Donna – it’s NEVER too late to join in a conversation on here cause women visit and revisit many of the same issues at different times, regardless of when an article was first posted. And how we feel about living alone is definitely one of the biggies.

    Thank you for sharing some of the details of your story. I personally find them fascinating and inspiring as you and I are so close in age and yet you are much further along the path since you divorced 15 years ago and your children are now much older. I get the sense that you’ve used this time to focus on you and raising your three girls and I think it’s important women realize it’s OK to channel their energies into those areas instead of fixating on finding another partner. One of my gfs constantly reminds me that in lots of ways it would be blessing for me NOT to get serious with a man at this point in my divorce because it frees me to really focus on other areas of my life and be my ship’s captain. And as time goes on, in many ways I think she’s right – not just for me but for my kids because I keep this solid and they know what to expect.

    There’s a time for everything – and a relationship is probably something that was best meant to come your way later rather than sooner. You will know something real and good when you see it, and feel confident in your decision-making abilties since you’ve earned a sense of Self since divorcing that many are envious to acheive. Please do keep sharing your thoughts on here when you can – it gives inspiration and hope to others (myself included!).

  11. 11

    Bobbie says

    I have been divorced now for 7 years. I love being on my own! I have 3 kids and share cutody with there father. I have no desire to have a guy in my life nor do I want to date. Men NEED women a lot more that we need them. I am in the best shape of my life. MY LIFE. I can do what I want when I want. Being without a man in my life for 7 years has given me time to work on me. I have desire to ever remarry and quite frankly am content to stay single. I have 3 children adding a guy to the mix would like 4 kids….no thank you!

  12. 12

    Shanna says

    I have been flying solo now for 5 years after being married to a controling, negative man. I dated a man within 3months of my divorce basically to prove to myself that at 39 I still had sizzle. We dated for a year and we broke it off after he announced that I wouldn’t be happy within anyone unless they were just like me. Big ahh moment. I would be happier with someone like me…me! I haven’t been happier and have zero desire to bring someone other that my children and my sweet friend into my life. Life is good, really good.

  13. 13

    Single Forever says

    What a silly article. OMG, “are we *TOO* independent?” Nobody seems to care if people get “too” accustomed to living with somebody, but we need ALARM BELLS if you’ve been single after your divorce for two years. Seriously, when will women wake up?

  14. 14

    Single Forever says

    And I would bet good money that Patrick C. is on his fourth marriage, to a Russian or Thai mail order bride in her early 20s.

  15. 15

    Rebel Rose says

    To Delaine, I too found out that I was broken and needed to fix myself from the inside out. I also learned that we as women do not need to have our self worth validated by any one person. I have learned to stand strong on my own and I have become a whole person by myself. I wonder what would happen if 2 whole persons came together in a relationship instead of 2 halves? If and when I am ready for the “dating” world and to open myself up to another man, that is exactly what I will be looking for, a whole person able to stand on their own and hold their own.

    To Bobby, I feel the same way! My best to you!

    To Single Forever, ditto…..! My best to you as well.

    Thank you Ladies!

    Rebel Rose

  16. 16

    Francine says

    Great responses, I agree with Single Forever’s observation that the main problem is assuming being alone is a problem.

    As to Patrick’s comments I am reminded again of misogynistic attitudes I hopefully never have to personally deal with in an intimate relationship again. However, while I agree that many women don’t live alone he misses one of the main reasons why: poverty. Sadly, a lot of women still don’t have the financial resources to choose to live independently. I realize how lucky I am to not have to live under the restrictions many women endure in third world countries.

  17. 17

    MH says

    I have to agree with Patrick. Most men, particularly after having broken up with needy, controlling, manipulative, abusive women, find it far easier being alone. I am 45 and have been alone for a few years. I love it. I have girls and women beating my door down all the time for God knows what (I am a wealthy professional and still pretty good looking) but, guess what? I couldn’t care less. I have my 2 boys on a regular basis and I have complete peace. What more do you really need? I assure you, I don’t need another drunk grifter with her bi-polar bull-dyke attorney chasing me around. No man needs that. You ladies should take a long look in the mirror when you’re in an unhappy relationship; trust me, your man is looking at you and is pondering his exit.

  18. 18

    says

    And I would bet good money that Patrick C. is on his fourth marriage, to a Russian or Thai mail order bride in her early 20s.

  19. 19

    says

    I had to go across to my neighbour yesterday to ask if she was happy that I build a small fence between the properties, very common in Australia, she said, ” I will have to check with my husband, he makes all the decisions”, instantly I thought, OMG, how sad for her, how sad that she couldn’t make a decision on her own, she had to get approval, or was incapable or it wasn’t her “role” in the marriage to make decisions, how LUCKY am I that I don’t have to refer to anyone, I am a big girl and can make a decision all by myself, even when I was married, I was still able to be my own person and make my own decisions, as for Patrick, get over yourself, 80 % of woman over 50 are single and only 20% of men over 50 are single, what does that tell you Patrick, men can’t be on there own, they don’t need love, they just need a house cleaner and someone who “puts out” to satisfy there sexual needs, Patrick you disgust me.
    I love being single, I don’t need a man to “complete me” in anyway.

  20. 20

    Maria says

    Well, I think the idea of being “too set in one’s ways” is one of those negative stereotypes people try to put on divorced persons. It’s a way for smug marrieds to show disapproval (or jealousy?) LOL

  21. 21

    seabeyond says

    i do not think so. i was 32 before getting married the first time and had plenty of “my space” and “my way”. i really did not have a tough time merging with husband. not a lot bothers me so i was pretty good at adapting. i like the guy. that is one of the reasons i gave marriage a try. prior to him, i had no interest in having any of the men i dated around for long periods. i liked having husband around.

    i am in the process of a divorce, 19 yrs later. i was still fine with him. he has the dreaded, “midlife” crisis and we went from a great marriage to “a living hell” of responsibility and expectation.

    i have no desire to marry again. i am fine on my own. i kinda feel for a woman’s health and sanity, she should walk at 50. lol. i tease, a bit. but, with the right man i do not think it would be hard to adapt, once again.

  22. 22

    Nikki says

    I have been a happily divorced woman for 10 years this June. And JUST recently met someone that I am VERY sure I want to spend the rest of my life with. Its been along time but he has been worth the wait. With that being said, i can honestly tell you, women have a MUCH better time with being single after long marriages. I have seen it time and time again. Men marry within a year of their divorce and most end up in just as bad situations as the first marriages. My ex husband married a girl 8 months after our divorced was final but after a couple years was telling my oldest it was a mistake… Im just convinced men CANT take care of the “home” life so they need that woman to make a home.

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