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No I'm not crazy - just divorced. But thanks for asking!


catmom32008

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So I will be the first to admit that I am a thread troller, not a poster. I've always been a fairly private person. Now my curiosity is getting the best of me. It seems like this is a safe, comfortable, and honest place to get some productive feedback. I'm learning to live life on the edge so here goes!

 

I won't go into a long drawn out story of how I got where I am. The details aren't really that important - at least that's what I tell myself. It's just that I haven't really run into many women my age with similar pasts so it can be isolating and degrading at times. I'm 34 and have been married and divorced three times. I've been called "crazy", a "serial wife (or divorcee depending on how you look at it)", "hopeless romantic", "in love with love", "messed up" and other glitterning titles. I can assure you I am none of those. I was just a young woman hell bent on making her fairytale dream come true. It wasn't about the dress or the cake or the honeymoon. After many counseling sessions, I understand the role I played in all my marriages while not taking on all the blame. I have done a lot of work on myself and for the first time in my life I am not afraid to be on my own. I have my own apartment, a great job, wonderful friends, and an active social life.

 

I haven't been interested in dating, although I did have a 6 month run with someone I worked with last year. Believe it or not, it wasn't horrible and we were both adults about it ending. Call me lucky I guess. I learned a lot about myself - mostly that I wasn't ready. I don't know if anyone ever really is after severe heartbreak. You kinda just hold your breath, shut your eyes, jump in, and embrace your new surroundings. If anything I've learned compassions for others since I had to learn to forgive myself first.

 

My question is for men and women. My past is so percolated with details from my marriages that it's hard to talk about who I am without bringing them up. I know that's bad joo joo on first, second, or even third dates. So I appear stand-offish and aloof. I try not to make it bigger than it is because I've left my baggage at baggage claim. But then I appear flaky and like I have a problem with commitment and give up on relationships too quickly. (I joke that I've been married three times - committment doesn't scare me. lol) Still questions turn into even more questions and....*sigh* Maybe I'm overthinking this. I'm just trying to get some ideas on how to approach this once I'm ready to get back into the dating scene. Divorce is more common nowadays, however, I prepare myself for the inevitable Judgement Glare.

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I don't know that you have to talk about "who you are" on first dates. There are way too many other topics to discuss- movies, art, music, the other person on the date, the people around you, family, friends, travel. I don't think it's as black and white as talking about the marriage vs. looking standoffish and aloof. There is grey area somewhere in there.

 

If someone asks you a direct question, you can answer briefly and change the subject to something more neutral. People can judge all they want, but they likely won't make a big deal out of it unless you do.

 

If this sounds too overwhelming for you, then maybe you need more time. Or some practice socializing lightly, using other venues like volunteering, taking a class, etc.

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You're absolutely right. Thank you for your response. I do tend to think in black and white when it comes to this. I'm not sure why. I will work on finding the "grey".

 

Also, you affirmed what even my mother has told me - they won't make a big deal out of it unless I do.

 

I agree that maybe I need more time, but I can still go out and have fun in non-dating social arenas.

 

On a lighter note, I actually had one guy tell me, "Well I guess I won't be bringing you home to meet my mother." (Apparently she was pretty old-school and didn't approve of divorce).

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I think that if a guy is going to have a problem with your 3 divorces, it won't matter when you tell him. Personally, I'd like to know that detail from the very first date with someone. I wouldn't judge them but if I had already been on 4-5 dates with a guy and THEN he told me 'you know, I've been divorced 3 times' (or if I found out somehow), I would wonder why he kept it from me.

Of course that doesn't mean that you should spend the whole date talking about your past marriages.

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@mhowe - That's actually what I say..."When I was married." And yes, it is a lot. I'm aware. Trying not to repeat the behavior or fall for the same assclown.

 

@missmarple - I try to think about how I would like to be told the information if it were the other way around. On the first date? Prolly not. I would like to know if he was married before or at least how long it's been since his last relationship. I'm trying to find a balance since I don't want it to seem like I'm keeping a shameful secret (even though I feel like I am).

 

Thanks for the input!

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I think on a first date you can talk about plenty of other things and not even bring it up or just as others have said a comment of "when I was married" although even there you don't really have to add that in unless it's a story about an ex specifically. And not everyone judges so harshly. My current SO was married three times and told me on I think it was our third date. I asked what happened and he said, "Well, I probably wasn't the easiest person to live with and neither were they, wrong place, wrong time." He wasn't defensive, he didn't act upset about it, he was straight up with me about it all. I thought about it for a minute then told him it didn't really matter since I was interested in who he was, not who he had married or divorced. That was roughly two years ago and we're still going strong. Having met two ex-wives of his I found he tended to attract girly-girls and he's just a bit of a force of nature, so wasn't really surprised it didn't work out although both women were lovely. It's just I'm a force of nature too, so we compliment each other. Also neither he or I are looking for marriage and it somehow works.

 

You'll find someone who won't care, won't judge and who will want what you want. Just keep looking and judge each man for who they are and insist they do the same with you and it'll be fine.

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@ParisPaulette - Years ago, when the scars were still fresh I would get defensive. Or worse, I would sound pathetic and then wonder why guys would stick around. I'm sure they felt sorry for me and didn't want to be yet another a-hole who let me down. I'm not proud of that. Now I have a much healthier view and hope that's what others see. I made choices and can't change my past. As the Three Doors Down song goes: "Your past does not define you now; it tells you who you're not." I'm not that same girl and I try to see the positive that came out of it. I've learned to be proud that I didn't stay in toxic, abusive, loveless relationships just for the sake of being married - that I had the guts to get out and get help. I've learned to guard my heart and still have compassion....be choosy who I let in. And most importantly, I've learned to like myself and be happy alone. I can imagine the pressure my exes were under to make me happy and love me when I didn't love myself.

 

I'm hopeful that there is someone out there who won't judge like you said. I go from hopeless romantic disguised as a cynic to an assertive, intimidating She-Beast....gotta find a balance.

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My mother has been married three times she's not embarrassed at all. There's nothing to be embarrassed about sometimes circumstances don't work out. There is no need on the first date to mention how many times you have been married.

 

Very good way of putting it. Your mother is my hero.

 

P.S. Go Air Force!!!

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I'll be blunt: you're right to be concerned. It's unusual for someone to accumulate three divorces. It's almost unheard of for this to happen by age 34. To make matters worse, you've entered into a modern singles scene that is exceedingly unforgiving. Maybe it's different for women, but if you're a man, and you're not basically perfect in every conceivable (and inconceivable) way, you're cast out like a leper. Men have substantially lower standards than women, obviously, but still... three divorces at 34? I'll basically take anything at this point, but even I would an eyebrow at that one.

 

So why am I telling you this? To make you feel bad? No! I'm telling you what the dating public will think of you if you don't get ahead of the issue. There's a reason you married so many times and you now know what it is since you went to counseling. You were very, very young and we all make stupid mistakes when we're young. You didn't mention kids, so I assume you don't have any. I'll take a woman with three divorces any day of the week over a woman with kids (I apologize to any single mothers, I'm just being honest). I think that as long as you acknowledge your mistakes and are sufficiently self-aware, then you can easily finagle your way around this land mine. Remember: mean are WAY easier to sate than women. That is to say, a man in your situation would be completely without options and destined for a life of solitude, and I'd peg this at 100% certainty. You, on the other hand, can very easily spin your past such that you're not damaged goods, but rather a butterfly that just got its wings. You went to a counselor, you're older, more mature, and finally, for the first time, ready to meet someone with whom you can build a family. You're over your past issues, and your next marriage will be the one that counts. That's the way you need to spin it.

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On a lighter note, I actually had one guy tell me, "Well I guess I won't be bringing you home to meet my mother." (Apparently she was pretty old-school and didn't approve of divorce).

 

On an unrelated note, I'm always blown away by the incredibly lame stuff my fellow men say to women on dates. Why does this guy need his mother's approval before dating a woman? Why does he even need to tell his mom you're divorced? Rest assured, of course, he gets more action IRL than me, but at least in my mind, I'm cooler, funnier, wittier, and infinitely more alpha and masculine.

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in my past, i've met a couple of men who were in their 40's who had been married 3/4 times. since i had/have never been married, it wasn't really something i could comprehend and found it quite off-putting. i went out with one, but was not interested in him for other reasons. the other guy i met in a bar, and totally blew off for that reason alone.

 

currently, i have a friend who just divorced for the 4th time (he is 55). he has told me some of his experiences, and i can see where he is not at all to blame for everything. he has picked some real doozies. not that he is perfect, just saying that his exes aren't either. he isn't someone i would want a relationship with, but if he was, i don't think i would be so concerned about his multiple marriages at this stage.

 

additionally, it is kind of accurate what you said.. it shows you aren't afraid to commit. while i don't like divorce, and hope to never go through one, what is the difference between someone who has had 3 marriages, and someone who has had 10 'long-term' relationships? or even 4 or 5? why didn't they ever marry one of those?

 

bottom line, it will all depend on who you meet and their ability or inability to relate to you as a person. and that is the same for all of us.

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The thing with divorce is nobody ever really knows the whole story. The first time my mother married she married my father. She was 18 years old. She had no idea that he was abusive and severely mentally ill. They had been going out since they were 15 years old. He did not display any abusive tendencies towards my mother until they had been married for three weeks. In those days when you got married you got married and that was that. You made your bed and you lay in it. After seven years she couldn't take it anymore. So they divorced.

 

My first stepfather he was a wonderful man but him and my mother divorced because he had an ex-wife who caused problems and my father also caused problems.

 

My second step father and my mother have been married 19 years. It was the 19th wedding anniversary this week. They got married the same year I did.

 

So not everybody who has been divorced a few times is a flaming disaster.

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You, on the other hand, can very easily spin your past such that you're not damaged goods, but rather a butterfly that just got its wings. You went to a counselor, you're older, more mature, and finally, for the first time, ready to meet someone with whom you can build a family. You're over your past issues, and your next marriage will be the one that counts. That's the way you need to spin it.

 

I appreciate your bluntness. I realize my situation is an eyebrow raiser but I don't need to walk around in shame for the rest of my life either. I was young the first time, rebounded into an emotionally and physically abusive second marriage, and the third one....well....I drew the line when he admitted to sleeping with another woman while we were going through marriage counseling. Needless to say, I am much wiser in my relationship choices, know my pitfalls, and will be the first one to work on myself instead of expecting someone else to change.

 

It's interesting how you described a man in my situation and he would basically be screwed for the rest of his life. So many stigmas...so little time. Again, this goes back to understanding, compassion, and really getting to know the person. If they display traits that would lead me to believe they really don't know what it takes to make a relationship work and just wanna get married and then toss it away, then yeah, even someone who's been married three times would run the other way. But, like me, if I see that he worked on himself and did it in an appropriate amount of time (a couple years...decades...whatever) and he can discuss it in a mature manner without any baggage then I would say he's learned and is stronger because of it.

 

You do make the assumption that I want to get married again and start a family which is not the case. I didn't have kids which I guess is a blessing in disguise because I really could make a "clean" break. I've learned to never say never, but marrying and having babies are not my goals in life anymore. Tried that. Not the best thing for me. I've learned that marriage does not a commitment make. I am not, however, opposed to a deep connection and am always open to possibilities.

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Why does this guy need his mother's approval before dating a woman? Why does he even need to tell his mom you're divorced?...I'm cooler, funnier, wittier, and infinitely more alpha and masculine.

 

I asked the same thing! Well, I gave him that "look" first, then asked. He made it sound lame and hypothetical and tried to play it off as a joke. That's when I said, "Well, then you probably shouldn't tell her I'm not a virgin either," thanked him for an enlightening evening, and GTFO.

 

And getting action is way overrated....being cool, funny, witty, and pounding your chest with your fists is way better. (As long as you don't eat with your hands and throw your poo at people).

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while i don't like divorce, and hope to never go through one, what is the difference between someone who has had 3 marriages, and someone who has had 10 'long-term' relationships? or even 4 or 5? why didn't they ever marry one of those? .

 

Exactly. It's all about perspective. Somehow when you throw the word "divorce" in there instead of "things just didn't work out" or "we weren't right for each other in the long run", it shifts from understanding to judgment. At least I was willing to dive in head first and really try to commit! I thought it was the right thing to do at the time even though the last two were hasty. All I can do is learn and maybe even try to see the humor in all this. I came out alive on the other side and honestly wouldn't trade the GINORMOUS amount of self-awareness, confidence, and self-worth I gained.

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It's just baggage. Everyone has some. You don't throw it accross the table at a guy on the first date, or ever really. You place your totebags and suitcases and giant transatlantic steamer trunks neatly to one side by your feet and he does the same. Eventually he accidentally kicks one of yours with his foot under the table and you laugh and explain where you got it and (if he seems worthy of the information) what it cost you. If he can, he sympathizes and shows you one of his. Lets you in on how hard it is to drag around.

 

A bunch of divorces or a bunch of kids from different dads or a bunch of foreclosed homes or a bunch of weight or a bunch of lawsuits -- like I said, that's baggage. Too heavy for some, not for others. It's not reasonable to expect that no one will give you "the look" or say anything awkward when they find out. Not everyone is super smooth when surprised. What's much more important, though, is whether they still seem to like you and want to learn more about you after you tell them.

 

Also, the older you get, the more "normal" that number of marriages will seem. So at least there's that to look forward to!

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I don't think the facts are as important as how they are presented. Consider the two following scenarios, which have happened to me.

 

Date the first. We were having lunch. She got very serious and said there was something she had to confess. I smiled, try to put her at ease and encouraged her to just be straight forward. I said I've heard a lot at my age, and I have. She remained a little elusive. She then engaged in game playing. Making me work for this grand confession. Making me almost beg for the information. At this point I'm part amused, part irritated. This is simple game playing 101. And this is a 43 y/o woman. She finally tells me. But she does so in a dramatic fashion. Her voice cracks and her face and body language are worthy of a Shakespearean actor's nod. Her confession? She's been married twice. She follows that up with a near in tears 'Please don't hate me'. Well I certainly wasn't going to hate her, but this was a five alarm damaged drama queen. We never spoke after that lunch.

 

Date the second.

She smiled confidently with a twinkle in her eye. She said very upfront, I've been married three times. With another smile, she said "I've made some mistakes, I don't dwell on them, I learn from them and move on". Then we went on to enjoy a very nice evening together.

 

One was a nutbar, one wasn't. The amount of marriages are kind of irrelevant. Sounds like you've looked inward and have sought support. That is more pertinent to a potential dater than your number of marriages.

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I rest my case. You see OP, you're a female. You can easily smooth over your past mistakes by simply flirting with the guy and spinning your prior marriages as a "learning experience," and that "[you've] grown a lot spiritually and emotionally since that time." You're golden, in other words. I also assume you're pretty, or you wouldn't have been able to find three husbands, so frankly, this whole thread poses a question that amounts to a non-issue.

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