By Tom Blake
On the last Thursday night of each month, my Dana Point deli, Tutor and Spunky’s, hosts a meet-and-greet gathering for singles ages 50 to 90. A woman we will call Sue had read about the scheduled August 29 gathering in this newspaper.
She emailed: “I am in the process of getting divorced and am not sure when the final court date will occur. I am 62 and had been with my soon-to-be ex-husband for 38 years. Although we separated in August 2011, I am still hesitant to venture into the dating arena. I am nervous and frightened to begin to even attempt to date. My husband tells people he is divorced.
“I feel, in a weird way, that I am violating my marriage vows even though it has taken two and a half years to get to the final stages of divorce, and my husband and I are living apart.
“If I arrived alone at your meet and greet and just wanted to get a feel for meeting new people, would it be the right start for me? I sometimes feel as though I should be officially divorced before venturing out. Just wondering if most people you encounter wait for the final paper work to be processed. Would it be inappropriate for me to attend? I am lonely and want to find a good person to share my life with and would like your advice.”
Sue raises an important question for the age 50 plus generations: Is getting out socially before the final divorce date appropriate? I say absolutely. She and her husband have been separated for more than two years. They are awaiting the final decree. Who knows how long that will take? Her husband has announced that he is divorced. They don’t live together.
Every divorce case is different. When both members of the marriage know a divorce is certain, why shouldn’t they start to get out and meet new people and make new friends? I have a friend whose 10-year divorce case just settled. Neither he nor his wife waited to date and they would have lost a lot of years of living had they done so.
But there is a catch. When you tell someone who would like to date you that you are still married, that news may send the other person running off. There is a stigma attached to dating while being married. But does being married mean you shouldn’t get out and make new friends? No.
My reply to Sue: “It would be good for you to attend the Meet and Greet, a perfect start for your re-entry into society. There is no pressure to meet someone to date. Rather, think of it as a social mixer, not a singles function. Besides, meeting a man to date likely won’t happen for awhile.
“Your life isn’t ending with the divorce, it’s just beginning. And you must get out and socialize, particularly to make new female friends, which is an important first step. While you are still young at 62, you’ve been out of the singles world for 38 years. It’s time to get social, and time is precious. Waiting until the divorce is final will only waste more time.
“Relax, have fun and don’t worry.”
Sue did not attend the meet and greet in August. She says she will attend the next event, Thursday, September 26, but added, “If I am brave enough.”
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Tom Blake is a Dana Point business owner and San Clemente resident who has authored books on middle-aged dating. See his website at www.findingloveafter50.com.