The single woman vs the gay divorcee

Friday, January 10, 2014 Permalink

Years ago I worked with someone who used to go on (and on) about the traumas of being single. I would have had some sympathy for her had she not been talking about a one-year period in her life. She’d been married for over 10 years and then divorced. I first met her when she was recently separated and a tad depressed. She’d married young so struggled with singledom.

By the time I worked more closely with her a year or so later she’d met someone online and was practically engaged. Again. As a forever single person I found it hard not to roll my eyes when she commiserated with me about the difficulties of being single. “When I was single….” she’d start. Hmph!

One of my closest friends at the time had a theory – that divorced / separated women (or maybe men as well, but we came at it from the female perspective) were more likely to find love. Again.

This girlfriend had many many friends and colleagues who had bounced back very quickly from relationships straight into another.

“Oh, they’re probably just co-dependent types,” we bitched. “They just CAN’T stand to be alone,” we thought.  Dismissively. Disdain tempered with jealousy.

We used to talk about it, wondering what it was about people who’d had long-term relationships that allowed them to find another partner – while many of us who had remained single had no such luck.

Was it about our standards? Were we hideously unattractive or just really boring to be around? Were they better at compromise? Were we not the ‘relationship’ type? Were they more desperate accepting? Were they more willing to offer love? Were we too independent? 

soulmate again

When I was in my early 20s I had a friend who was a serial monogamist. She was NEVER without a serious boyfriend. I suspect she was rarely single for a month or so after each relationship ended before starting the next. And each relationship got serious. Quickly. Being in a relationship was the norm for her.

I’ve been thinking about this lately as I had a conversation with someone about a mutual friend who’s started a new relationship after a marriage breakdown. I’d been out of the loop so hadn’t realised she wasn’t still in mourning for her marriage, when apparently she’s madly in love again. I don’t begrudge her the new love. Good on her… but it did remind me of my friend’s theory which I’ve been thinking about since. And I’m reminded of friends (real and virtual) who’ve found love a second or third time – and wondering what it is that allows them to do so more easily than their longer-term single counterparts.

I don’t think the subject is worth a funding grant or a PhD thesis, but I am kinda intrigued.

Have you found / noticed that people who’ve had longish term relationships are more likely to find another?
Any theories?

  • Lee-Anne
    January 11, 2014

    I do know what you mean – they’re are those who can’t be single for a minute and go from one relationship to another. My theory is they can’t bear to be alone and need someone to reaffirm their sense of self. Or they’re just lonely…don’t want to judge them too harshly!

    For myself, I married young, divorced then remarried but my husband died of cancer and I haven’t rushed to replace him (as he was the one).

    Like the pic! 🙂

    • Debbish
      January 11, 2014

      Oh Lee-Anne, so sorry about your husband.

      I wondered if being in a relationship when young also meant that people were more likely to experience love again. Perhaps once you’ve been single too long you just aren’t as ‘open’ to the idea or something….

      BTW… I’m sure there are a myriad of reasons I’m still single, but try to think of other friends (and seemingly ‘normal’ people) who remain single when hypothesising about this issue! 😉


  • Char
    January 11, 2014

    I’ve got no theories on the matter. I’ve been married 28 years next week and maybe I’m okay at compromise but I think that Iven might be even better than me. He was the first real boyfriend (and I use that term very loosely because he was 32) I’d had. Only man I’ve ever slept with.

    I don’t know that I’d call him my soul-mate but we generally coexist quite happily. And I don’t know if I’d bother trying again if I was left alone through divorce or death – it’ d be hard to learn a whole new set of compromises with someone else.

    • Debbish
      January 11, 2014

      Yes, 28 years is a long time. The work colleague I mentioned had a pre-teen child. I’m trying to think if most of the women I know who’ve had new relationships have had youngish kids as perhaps that’s a factor. Hmmmm…. This theory is getting more complicated! 😉

  • Satu
    January 11, 2014

    I think there is something interesting going on. I suspect that people who have had several relationships are more skilled in everything related to getting into them in the first place, being in them etc. They are more skilled because they have more experience.

    As for having been single for a long time, I’m usually so wary around men that they probably find it very hard to approach me even though I’m open to relationships in principle…

    • Debbish
      January 12, 2014

      Yes I’m a bit like you Satu. Think I have ‘trust’ issues.

  • Jess
    January 11, 2014

    II agree with your theory. Obviously there would be exceptions, but anecdotally I know many instances of this. My parents divorced after 28 yrs of marriage and within 2 months both were living with and very serious about new partners. In neither situation do I tthink they found soul mates. I think they couldnt stomach being alone. And I think it would have been good for them to them to wait. I think that being single long term has májor perks and it can be hard to find someone worth the compromise, which is not necessarily a bad thing at all.

    • Debbish
      January 12, 2014

      Did your parents end up staying with their new partners for a long time, I wonder?

  • Jo Tracey
    January 12, 2014

    Hmmmm not sure I have a theory. I’ve only had the 2 relationships- the first lasted just a couple of months & the 2nd (so far) 25 years. In between I was single for about a year, I guess. I’m not great at making that move into relationship. I was going to say that maybe it’s a little like you tend to have a better chance of getting a new job when you’re already employed- but that doesn’t sound right 🙂

    • Debbish
      January 12, 2014

      Oh no… I completely agree with that Jo (the job bit). Whether that’s our own mindset (ie. I’m employable) or others’ mindsets (she’s employable) is interesting. (I’m lovable / she’s lovable or worthy of love)?!

      Oh god… a bit too deep for a Sunday morning. Plus I haven’t had enough caffeine! 😉

  • Kek
    January 13, 2014

    I have a male friend who’s a serial monogamist. Married (and divorced) four times, one fiancee, at least three de factos and who knows how many other girlfriends. He always bounces straight from one relationship into another and apparently cannot bear being alone.

    I have no idea how he finds these women, or what it is about him that attracts the ladies or sees the relationship escalate to “serious” so quickly. I do know that he’s always the one who leaves, and that it’s always all their fault that things didn’t work out… *eye-roll*

    I can’t speak from experience, having been with my husband for 33 years now (married 28)…I had a couple of long-term boyfriends before that, with quite long breaks in between, but it was so long ago I can barely remember. Senility setting in.

    • Debbish
      January 13, 2014

      I wondered if it was the same for men Kek. Most single men I’ve known haven’t been single for long… so maybe the theory works for both sexes!

I'd love to hear your thoughts