Some of the frankly weirdest conversations Bob and I have had as a divorced couple revolved around our adventures as single people. It’s probably hard for a lot of you to understand how we could discuss our evolving single-ness including sharing of some rather intimate escapades. It’s probably making you a little squirmy right now in fact. Like where the hell is this going? No worries. It’s really not creepy. At least not to me.
Perhaps it will make more sense to you if you consider that neither Bob nor I had spent any real time as adult singles before the point at which we divorced from each other. We were both mid-30s and single for the first times in our adult lives.
Bob had begun dating a woman right out of high school who he eventually married and then divorced within a year. I had pretty much paralleled this pattern. I met a guy two weeks before my high school senior prom and proceeded to date him for three and half years. I eventually married him when I was 21 and promptly separated from him six months later. About 8 months after that, I met Bob and the rest is history so to speak.
So I guess for us, our union developed rather prematurely, before we were done experiencing single life. Once the shock and sadness of our failed marriage had run a reasonable course and we had committed ourselves to remain friends, it was sort of natural for us to share about our single-life escapades. I think this was mostly helpful since it allowed our friendship to continue to evolve to a natural state of post-marital bliss and remove all the awkward overtones of sexual jealousy and disappointment that I think other couples harbor against one another long after the possibility of ever having sex again with each other has evaporated. It also helped us to truly learn from our experience together. Basically, if you are sharing as friends do about relationships with others of the opposite sex, it becomes natural to offer opinions on what might work or not work. It also offers a weirdly safe audience since no one knows your dating habits and style better than one who actually experienced it.
Of course, these conversations weren’t possible in the early days of our separation or divorce. But Bob and I both accepted the fact we were happier not cohabiting pretty quickly, probably by the time a year had passed, and began to cheer for the happily-ever-after ending that we each felt the other truly deserved in spite of our failure with one another.
Of course, I didn’t approve of all of Bob’s dating choices and he downright opposed at least my first choice – someone who I met the weekend before I announced my intention to separate from him. I have to say, given this circumstance, Bob put forth an amazing effort to be cordial to this man for the proceeding three years during which I continued to date him. Thinking back on it, I really don’t know if I could have done the same. But I truly do thank Bob for doing this in spite of the pain he must have felt every time he had to look at the man he considered the “other guy”. By the time I had moved on from this first new someone, Bob had remarried and seemed to want me to find someone too. We even got to a point where Brandi, his new wife, and I talked about my dating situations. Not in vivid detail mind you. But rather on a more general “found anyone special?” level.
To clarify, sharing your dating experiences with your ex isn’t advisable for everyone. And you certainly should not do it if it is even a remote possibility that it may inflict pain on the former spouse. That will only do harm to your efforts as a happily divorced couple. In my case, I didn’t consider sharing these types of things with my ex until he did it first. Now of course, this assumes that I was in a position to handle it. And I really couldn’t tell you if Bob considered that or not. Either way, I was. So it worked out.
If you are on the receiving end of this scenario – your ex is sharing his or her dating experiences with you – try not to assume it’s an attempt to hurt you but rather may be an effort to normalize your relationship as friends and remove the awkwardness. Look, the fact is you’re not likely going back there. Some people do this. But I guess what I’m saying is if it is over for the two of you, why not move on to a place of comfortable non-awkward friendship which includes sharing our successes and failures in dating. And if you’re lucky enough to have an ex-spouse who is as funny as Bob when telling a story, you might even derive a bit of entertainment out of it.