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Ex to Next

They say that you know when you’ve found the right one. When the man of your dreams becomes your future, and like the famous line from When Harry Met Sally, “You’ll never have to be out there again!”

But when the right turns out to be the wrong, no one tells you when it’s time to go looking for the next. It’s a very confusing step along the path to, “Yes, I am single again. Yes, I can do this.”

A month ago during our last mediation, my lawyer asked me if I was dating. My hairdresser asked, and so too did my childhood friend, Bethy. Married friends wondered aloud. I would have brushed it off had it not been coming at me from so many different directions.

The thought of dating after all of these years of couples counseling and marital fights, unhappiness and it’s O.V.E.R. tasted as sour as our finale, which if we’re speaking in technicalities, isn’t close to the finale at all (thank you North Carolina and your one year of living separately rule).

After all of that, hadn’t I had enough MAN for a lifetime?

It turns out that despite the intention, I’ve created a circle of women who themselves have pondered the very same mid-divorce conundrum. These women, all strong and beautiful and as different from each other as you could imagine, tip-toed back into dating territory quite as I had, with trepidation and concern.

What they found when they got where they were going, fully immersed and committed to moving forward, was that dating hadn’t changed much in the years that they’d been meandering in matrimony.

They’d changed, of course. But dating remained the same.

Lots of people fault the process. They say that the bar scene is tough. That meeting people is hard. Online dating is a rotation of the same people year after year. There is competition from women with more or less of whatever it is we feel we’re missing in ourselves. Wondering if he likes you. Wondering if you like him. Awkward coffee meetings. Dinners cut short with fake emails/get out of this mess dismissal notes. Calling your best friend at midnight to pick you up because he drove you to dinner, it went awry, and dang it… you should have driven your own car.

But then there’s the excitement of seeing a stranger’s handsome smile. The fun of getting dressed up and putting your best, flirting foot forward. Butterflies in your belly that you’d forgotten felt so sweet.

Now as we’ve aged, we’ve got great guys whose own marriages didn’t work, but are really good dads. True gentlemen who want to try again.

You could say that I’ve warmed to the idea. The possibility of meeting someone new, and the unknowing next, is enough make the past less about the pain.

The absence of pain is good.

Sitting on the cusp of a brand new adventure is great.

Single mom is dating.

Please stay tuned.