My Worst Fear About Dating After Divorce Came True, and I’m Glad

Being rejected because I was a mom helped me realize what I was actually looking for.

Brianna Conrey

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Photo by Pratik Gupta on Unsplash

“That looked like goodbye,” the old man said.

He was right. It had started as our fourth date, and ended with a long hug on the sidewalk before we parted ways.

The old man had watched from his table at the sidewalk café. “What happened?” he asked now.

What had happened? I thought things had been going well, and then suddenly on this date, I had been confronted with the very type of rejection I feared most, as a divorced woman with two kids: He didn’t want to date a mom.

This especially stung because I was just starting to date again, six months after my divorce and a year and a half after we had agreed it was over between us. More to the point, I was just starting to date again after nearly 15 years as part of a couple.

I hadn’t felt in a hurry to start dating after my divorce, but within a few months, I had been asked out by friends of friends. To my surprise, I found I enjoyed these dates. I wanted to keep meeting people, and I was starting to feel like it would be nice to find someone I liked spending time with, maybe even to find a real partner again someday. I felt anxious about dating people I already knew, though. Enter online dating.

When I met my now ex-husband, back in the early 2000s, online dating existed, but was far from ubiquitous. Most people I knew didn’t even have cell phones. I counted myself extremely lucky to have found a match in our tiny college town, where dating horror stories abounded. One friend was stood up twice — by two different men — because her dates were finishing their tax returns. Another discovered that five of her friends had all been on a terrible first date with the same unpromising guy.

I did a little asking around to figure out which sites to join, and decided to take a scientific approach by signing up for a representative sampler: one “swipe” app; another that sent me a small number of highly curated matches to review each day; and a third which required a more comprehensive profile but also let me search through everyone out there myself.

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Brianna Conrey

Family, relationships, and life after divorce with a twist of humor. Exploring happiness, creativity, and how to be a good person in a complicated world.