I am a recently divorced 41-year-old woman. Our six-year-old child and I moved to be closer to family, and we have each become settled in school and a new job.
Out of sheer loneliness and I guess fear, I contacted a man with whom I had dated about 20 years ago. We were in our early 20s and were not even thinking of settling down (although now I wish we had). I had no ill feelings toward him when we stopped dating, and although we did not stay in touch, I always wondered what had become of him.
I wrote him a letter asking to see him again, and I mentioned I would like him to meet my child. He telephoned me and we agreed to get together in our hometown over the winter holiday break. It was wonderful to see him and he was lovely to my son and sweet to me. Although I felt a powerful attraction to him I inwardly questioned the source of those feelings. He is unmarried and is involved in a successful international business which requires him to divide his time between the U.S. and another country.
After we got together, I e-mailed him and have written to him frequently. He has responded in a very careful and non-romantic way. I have no idea about his dating life, except that he told me he never married because he never met the right woman. Painful as it is, I am not stupid and it is fairly clear to me that he is not interested in me for marriage. My closest friends feel that I may be wrong and that he may just have his guard up, so I shouldn't give up on him.
I am reluctant to permanently say goodbye to something that has potential. We have a shared past, have similar values, and he and my son got along instantly. On the other hand, I cannot force him to feel something I just don't think he feels. I know that I am very vulnerable now because of what happened to my marriage. I also don't see how I am going to meet any new men, while working 40-plus hours a week and tending to my child the rest of the time. Could you give me some honest advice in this area? I am obviously very confused and I am beginning to get depressed about this situation.
We've received a lot of questions from newly divorced women who, like you, are still healing from the divorce, putting their and their children's lives in order, and wondering how and when they can begin a new courtship.
The fact that so many women are in similar circumstances shows how normal your feelings are. You hope that dating will help boost your self-esteem and replace the void you feel, so your vulnerabilities lead you to pursue dates that, in the long run, may not be right for you and, in the short run, is not what you need at this point in your life.
The best advice is to give yourself enough time to mourn the loss of your marriage. Any of several excellent books on the subject may help you understand and work through the mourning process, or you may want to participate in individual or group therapy to help you move forward.
You also have to learn to balance your new life as a single parent with your job and your need for some personal down-time. There may never be enough hours in the day for you to nurture your child, tend to your home and meet the demands of work. However, no matter how busy your life may seem, you must carve a few hours a week for your own emotional and physical well-being. Exercise, read, play the piano, take a class, soak in a tub. You need to nurture yourself. Use some of your personal time to develop and maintain a support network of relatives and friends. If you've moved to a new area, you can build social frameworks with mothers of your sons' friends, people you meet at synagogue, exercise class and community projects.
Give time for your and your son to become accustomed to life on your own, a process that will take at least several months, and possibly a couple of years. Don't feel that you have to cram dating into an already over-extended life. When you are more self-confident, and you and your son have settled into your new life, you can consider dating again.
As for the man from your past, it seems to us that your instincts about him are correct. He cares for you as a friend, but has sent you polite messages that he is not interested in a courtship. Pursing him will only cause you disappointment, and at this stage in life you need positive reinforcement. It's much wiser to concentrate on improving the quality of your own life and nurturing your relationship with your son. We wish you a wonderful future.
Rosie & Sherry
Don't miss Sherry & Rosie's dynamic lecture for singles: "How to Build a Great Relationship - A Step By Step Approach," Tuesday, July 25 @ The Israel Center, 10 Strauss Street in Jerusalem.