Needle in a Haystack… Dating for the Divorced

Who’d have thought dating could seem so much like, well, hard work?

Now, the obvious point to highlight from the off is that I can only speak for myself; if Brad Pitt or, errrrrrr, Harry Styles somehow found themselves on Tinder or Plenty of Fish, chances are it might not be much of a chore.  But, for this 40 something from Middlesbrough, it ain’t easy I can tell you.  Even for a Brian Cox lookalike….


In the first flush of single life entering the brave new world of online dating (well, new to someone that has been in a relationship for 19 years anyway) the overriding sense was one of excitement and possibility.  And, in spite of an odd detour (see here for gory details: my first experience of online dating – where I met a wonderful woman very quickly – turned out to be far from representative of the reality of seeking your perfect partner online.

Now, cards on the table time – I’m a bit weird.  Although I’m not detecting many sharp intakes of breath here let me explain what I mean by that: I’m not interested in casual relationships and one night stands.  I know I know I’m a bloke but what can I say, faulty wiring I guess.

I’ve always been the same, I prefer to get to know somebody and want to meet somebody that I can really connect with, someone that I can laugh with as we navigate life’s ups and downs together.  Someone whose presence in my life makes me a better person and brings out the best that I have to offer.  So you see, basically I’m soft as shite.

Anyway, so far she’s not on Tinder.  Or Plenty Of Fish.  Or OK Cupid…

Hell, I’m getting depressed just typing those out.  And really, I didn’t do too badly I suppose.  I met around 8 or 9 people for dates, and there were others that I was talking with that could have lead to dates but didn’t for one reason or the other.  One week I had dates with 3 people planned.  To many that might sound great.

But you know what?  It isn’t.

Well, not for me anyway, because it’s not about numbers, it’s about meeting somebody that’s right.  And that’s harder than I guess I thought it would be.

Don’t get me wrong, I met nice people.  I don’t have any dating disasters to speak of.  And I’m glad for the experiences that I’ve had – in the end you learn from them and when one day in the future I am with that special person I expect I will appreciate her all the more.

But when you are looking for that special someone, especially at a relatively advanced age and after nearly 9 years of marriage, it can all get…. dispiriting.  The dating treadmill has tired me out.  And not in THAT way…

There are only so many times that you can get to know somebody new, only so many times you can go on a first date, only so many times you can have the same conversation with different people… And, there are only so many photos of 40 something women pouting (or suffering the effects of drinking vinegar?) that I care to see.


Dating in your 40s isn’t straight-forward, particularly for single parents where finding a mutually suitable time to arrange to meet can be difficult.  One of the things that has shocked me is just how many women with children have ex-partners that see their children very little if at all, and through the father’s choice.  No love is more special than the love between a parent and child and walking away from that is something that I can’t get my head around at all.  Seems Candi Staton knew what she was talking about:

“Love only breaks up, to start over again
You’ll get the babies, but you won’t have your man
While he is busy loving every woman that he can….”

Who knows what the future holds?  Being single has its plus points but ultimately I know what I want.  I don’t need a relationship to make me complete – I’m complete as it is (and for any Blankety Blank fans out there, by all means fill in the blank – ‘I’m a complete ……..’).

But for me life is richer when it is shared with someone special, with somebody that you know will be there for you no matter what, somebody with whom you can share both the good and the bad, growing closer through each.  Somebody to whom you can give the very best of yourself.

One thing I’ve learned – this can’t be rushed.  It will happen in its own good time and in the meantime I’m striving to learn the things that this – my longest period of adult singledom – has given me the opportunity to learn.  Lessons about myself, about what I want in life, and what I want in a partner.

And whilst doing so, to appreciate the virtue of patience, of allowing things to happen when the time is right.

And, to quote my favourite band, Suede:

“When I start my, new life,
I won’t touch the ground.”


Matthew’s debut book, Something Changed: Stumbling Through Divorce, Dating & Depression, is available now Click here for info

Soundtrack: First Day Of My Life – Bright Eyes

5 thoughts on “Needle in a Haystack… Dating for the Divorced

  1. Came across your blogg purely by chance I’m not very IT savvy! You sound so young to me I’m 57 my husband of 32 years went away one weekend on a photography course (start of a new career possibly) met a woman 21 years younger (a photographer) and long story short over conversation with other course members when asked how he felt being married for so long he replied ‘happy and content’ to which she asked ‘is that enough?” . … and the rest they say is history. Except of course its our history completely forgotten. I work hard at ‘getting over’ this counselling, writing a jounel, reading books on research into this sort of life shock but everyday its the same exhausting start. Anyone out there have any new tips on how to clear my mind ?

    1. Hi June and I’m glad you stumbled across my blog, although obviously not for the circumstances that led you to it.

      It’s very difficult, there’s no way around that. For me a big thing was realising that beyond a certain point the reasons don’t matter, what matters is that all you can control is what you do from now to live the life you want.

      Knowing yourself better, what you want from life, what you enjoy, who you enjoy spending time with, having new experiences and finding new things out about yourself and rediscovering things you may have lost along the way.

      I’d recommend the following website and the associated book too, it’s really good: – there’s some really good short videos on her YouTube channel too.

      Very best wishes – it’s tough but life gets better and you may find yourself being happier than you’ve ever been.

  2. I think I am coming up behind you. I had also been depressed when my husband asked for a divorce. I still am in all honesty. But we separated in November and ….. The divorce is just beginning. Any advice would be great.

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