The first time someone asked me if I had a boyfriend after I filed for divorce, I didn’t realize he was talking to me. I was at a new part time job and as the new girl I fielded questions like, “Where did you work before here?” and “Do you have kids?” and “Where do you live?” All normal. Then one day, as he walked past, a guy said to me, “So, Kira, do you have a boyfriend?”
Say what? No one had asked me if I had a boyfriend in 11 years. Up until the day I took off my wedding ring forever, I had a visible sign that I was legally bound to another person. Did I have a boyfriend? Wasn’t I too old for someone to ask me that? Are they still called boyfriends if you’re closer to 40 than 30? Why would anyone think that I had a boyfriend?
“No boyfriend,” I replied, trying not to look as confused as I felt. The thought that I might someday have a boyfriend hadn’t even crossed my mind.
Do I have a boyfriend? Huh.
Then, in addition to the strange and disorienting questions regarding my relationship status, there are now the girls’ nights out with my (predominantly married) friends. Again, in the past I wore a wedding ring, which was a pretty clear sign to single or seeking men not to approach me. I will also add that I’m not gorgeous, which is also a clear sign to men of any variety to not approach me. But now when I go dancing there have been men out who talk to me and do unfamiliar things like ask me for my phone number.
You know I’ve been single for too long when someone asks me for my phone number and my first thought is a suspicious, “Why?” Having met my ex when we both attended a small college, I don’t really have any dating experience from long ago to pull up from memory to help me out in this odd, new world. If someone wanted my phone number in those days all they had to do was look it up in the student directory. Facebook and Linkedin didn’t exist. There was no texting – actually, I’m not even sure I had a cell phone when I first met my kids’ father.
What IS the point when a guy I’ve danced with for three minutes and barely spoken to asks for my number?
This is not a rhetorical question, I really want to know why a guy thinks he wants to call me based on… nothing. So please tell me. I’m not kidding. I feel like I need to go buy a Cosmo or Glamour magazine for research.
I tell my sister (who didn’t marry until she was in her 30s and therefore has a much vaster dating library to draw from) some of my going out stories and perplexing exchanges with men and she says, “Oh, come on, you complain but you secretly love it.” But I don’t. Because I don’t understand it and think they’re either talking to me because they left their glasses at home and can’t see me or are wearing glasses of the beer-goggle variety, which is kind of the same thing. Worse, I sometimes fear they are making fun of me. When my friend and I went salsa dancing an obvious player with an entourage looked at me in a non-flattering, ogling way and said, “You are so beautiful.” Dude, please – on a very good day, when the stars align and I’m feeling skinny and I’m not sweaty from trying to keep up with dancers far better than me, I’m maybe cute, at best. Don’t try to give me such a fake line. I didn’t say anything but I admit I may have rolled my eyes.
As you can see, I am not in any danger of being won over by false compliments at a bar anytime soon.
Friends ask me if I’m going to date, a few have told me they have guys they think I’d like. The ink is now dry on my divorce decree but I don’t know if I’ll jump into the dating game or not. On one hand, I’m an incredibly social person and have two single friends who are able to go out with me when I don’t have the kids. And one of them doesn’t like to go out. It would be nice to have new experiences with other people, like going to concerts, visiting museums, going to a lake, seeing a movie in the theater, dining out. But on the other hand, I have a hard time believing any man would truly be interested in a woman my age who has four children. Before I met my ex-husband I was 20 and in relatively good shape. Now I’m NOT 20 and, well, I’ve had four babies, so I’ll let you make your best guess as to how incredible or not my shape is now. To be honest I find it completely confusing I’ve had anyone ask for my number at all (and I should be clear that it’s not scads of men, here – it’s happened maybe five times from men of questionable sobriety in dark bars where my age and appearance may not have been as readily apparent as they are at Target or on a sunny sidewalk).
One of my two divorced friends recently starting seeing a man she met on a dating website, though, and I have to admit it sounds a little… exciting. I predict if I enter the dating game there will be many, many mishaps, a huge number of red flags raised, crises averted, some mind-boggling discrepancies between the online and real life personae, and the very real possibility of broken hearts. But what stops me from running away from the idea completely is knowing there would also be the opportunities to make some new friends, for amusing battle stories I’ll be able to share for entertainment value and maybe, just maybe, to make a real connection down the line.
First I think I need to lose 10 pounds and stop being startled when someone asks me if I have a boyfriend. Because thinking I might have a boyfriend someday still sounds just plain weird.