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


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.



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.