Dear Chump Lady,
I’m well into the “Meh” — two years past my ex walking out on me and two kids for some schmuck she met online.
I went as NC as soon as possible. I had verification there was an affair in progress, and she basically has had very little contact with me at all other than appointments for the kids/lawyer etc… she calls the kids about once a week. I’ve basically ceased to exist in her world since then, it’s like the last 24 years never even happened.
It’s taken me a while to get my ducks in line since then, the weirdness of it all is like a bad dream. I decided to take a year to get over it. I didn’t want to get into a rebound relationship. I spent that time pretty much to rebuild my whole life. I’m probably in the best shape I’ve been in years, both mentally and physically.
I’m okay being alone. Much of the time I’m out as the only single in a sea of couples and it doesn’t bother me much anymore, but I would like someone else in my life again to share these activities with.
The problem is meeting someone else, I’ve tried online dating, I’ve been to every gala /fundraiser event I can get to and have become involved with the theater and a variety of clubs…but I’m not meeting many that I get any kind of “spark” from, or the ones that do just don’t seem attracted to me. I’ve just about run out of options, any ideas?
Well first off, congratulations on getting your life back together, and getting in good mental and physical shape and achieving “meh.” You’re way ahead of the game there — so well done!
I’m hoping some of the guy chumps here will weigh in with advice for you, because from where I sit, you’re a catch! A nice man raising two kids, presumably you are employed, and I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you have most of your teeth and hair. You aren’t fighting the women off with sticks?
Hey, straight chump women — see? There are nice men out there looking. They exist.
Mike, before I urge patience and The Right Person Will Appear When You Least Expect It (everyone may collectively vomit… who doesn’t hate that advice?), I think we need to do some trouble shooting. Let’s just rule out some factors that could be hindering your dating mojo. Just check ’em off, and if I’m completely off-base — I apologize. But let’s rule these out before we proceed.
1.) You’re not really meh. If you’re over-sharing about your ex… If the narrative when someone first meets you is “Can you BELIEVE she walked out after 24 years for this schmuck she met online?!” If you’re oozing resentment or pain, people will sense that and keep their distance. And that’s a healthy thing, because for a good relationship, you need to be emotionally available for someone else. If you’re still hung up on the divorce, or the injustice, if you’re not actually divorced yet, it doesn’t signal to the other person that there is space in your psyche for them. At its worst, it’s a weird form of the “pick me” dance. New person vs. The Spectre of My Terrible Ex. Who will win for your attention?
You don’t have to be entirely healed. (Most of us carry some of the scars for life, but that’s not fatal. You don’t get to middle age without some scarring.) You just need to not be an emotional bucket of slop.
2.) You’re self employed with a weird job, have no job, or you write screenplays while living in your mother’s basement. No healthy woman is attracted to the day trader/struggling actor/painter of dog portraits. I’m not saying you have to be a “success object” — I’m saying you need a real job. Most women (unless they have trust funds and low standards) want a guy who can support himself. That’s not saying women are gold diggers and want a man who can support them (although those women are out there — avoid them) — I’m saying a healthy woman wants a fellow grown up.
From what you write, you’re supporting two children, I don’t think this is your problem.
3.) Hygiene. Have you put off dental work? Would you kiss you? Do you have odd tufts of hair? A hairy back? Do you smell of tobacco, sweat, and Hot Pockets?
Shave, floss, and deodorize.
4.) You’ve got fashion issues. Don’t trust yourself on this. Ask a woman or a stylish gay friend to be brutally honest with you. If you have fashion issues? Don’t feel bad, Mike, many men do.
My father has always had my mother dress him, otherwise left to his own devices, he would wear dark knee-socks with sandals and his pants hiked to his armpits. No one has broken him of the pen protector habit. (He was once an engineer.) He had a secretary who could tell the days my mother was out of town. “You dressed yourself today, didn’t you?” she’d say.
Fortunately, my husband was so wonderful I looked past his affinity for wearing polka pimp t-shirts and camo shorts — sometimes to work! (He works alone, he is not appalled by himself.) He wears dry-clean only clothing only under duress. It’s taken many years of gentle nurturing to get him to throw out flannel shirts so disintegrated, birds refuse to make nests from them.
Some guys go feral alone. Or after a long, bad marriages of self neglect, they just sort of forget how to dress.
You may think I’m being superficial, Mike, but women are visual too. They want spiffy — at least at the courtship stage. The sexiest thing is effort — and a guy who wears a t-shirt on a date is telling us they aren’t making an effort.
Get some date shirts — some stylish, nice pressed collared shirts to wear with jeans, some cologne, some cool shoes or boots. You’re worth it! No… hang on, that’s what I’d write to a woman… to a man I should write — Do it! Because getting laid is worth it!
5) You’re fishing off the wrong pier. Make sure you’re dating people who are appropriate in terms of age, values, education, and interests. If you look like Billy Joel, don’t expect to win Christie Brinkley. I don’t know what constitutes a “spark” for you, but if that’s code for “I’m really piggish and I want to date 20 year old women who look like strippers” — you need to rethink that. There are plenty of hot women out there with good values — always date for character!
Don’t confuse “spark” with “sparkly.” Yes, you want attraction — but you don’t want crazy. Sparkly people — those disordered people who seem a bit more alive than everyone else, who love bomb you, who are dynamic and spontaneous and want to drive to Vegas right now and blow you in a parking lot and get drunk under the stars — are the same women who will steal your credit cards and wind up in a psych ward.
So Mike — if you’ve ruled out these hindrances, and you’re still wondering why you’re not meeting the Right One — just remember it’s a numbers game. You’re going to have to go on at least 50 bad coffee dates. Manage your expectations accordingly.
It’s also good to be honest with yourself about what you want. If you want casual — then you’re going to be less choosey. If you want to meet someone special worthy of a greater commitment someday — if you know you’re the sort of man who is happier coupled — that’s okay. You’re not alone. In fact, most men remarry within two years of divorce. It’s great that you know how to be alone — it’s essential really — but it’s equally valid to want to couple up again, with the right person of course. It takes a lot of personal strength to fix that picker and wait until the right person crosses your path.
Meanwhile, increase your odds. Ask those coupled people you hang with if they know any single woman they could introduce you to. Or better yet, send me your contact info — I’m sure any number of nice chump women here would love to meet you.