I am trying to figure out what is the right kind of guy for me to be dating now that I’m getting a divorce. As an incorrigible go-getter — with all things I do — I am getting a jump start on dating. So if it’s offensive to you that I’m dating before I’m divorced, you should probably stop reading. But I want to warn you that you are probably from the same contingent of people who do not approve of looking for a job from your current job, and I’ve got news for you: Everyone’s doing it. Both.
At first I thought I should be dating people who are recently divorced. You know, shared experience. So I went out with this guy who was married for sixteen months, and his wife is getting about three million dollars in the settlement. Of course he is very upset about the whole thing. But mostly because he thinks she’s crazy.
My alarms go off immediately. I think he might be crazy. Because, as my divorce lawyer says, “A ten never marries a one.” Which is to say that you get what you are.
I ask my date why he’s so upset that she’s getting three million. Because, after all, he earned way more than that while he was with her. (Yes, true.)
He says that she is a raving alcoholic and he didn’t know that when he married her.
Then he orders his second Jack and Ginger.
I have had so few drinks in my life that I don’t even know what Jack and Ginger is.
But here’s what happens: We go out on one date, and I drink. It only takes me about a half a glass of wine to be way more easy-going and flirty than I could ever manage if I were sober. And he asks me out again.
On the next date, he has four beers and I don’t drink, and it is obvious to me that things are not going well.
And it is also obvious to me that he will marry another alcoholic. He likes that in a girl.
But he still complains that he can’t believe he married someone who is so unstable. I can’t believe he doesn’t see what marrying that person says about him. I do not tell him that people who have four drinks on every date marry alcoholics. I do tell him, “A ten does not marry a one.”
The wisdom falls on dead ears.
But I know this is true because after our marriage counseling ended up in our divorce, I went back to the marriage counselor to understand why I chose my husband in the first place. Really, all the things I loved about my husband when we got married are still there. I just need to understand why, of all the things I could love in a person, I picked those to marry. There are millions of reasons to marry someone, really, like that the person is a genius (my husband) or that the person is fun when drunk (definitely not my husband).
It’s easy to judge other people for what they pick. But to be honest, all reasons have their pluses and minuses and we’d do best just to understand why we do what we do. My friend married a woman because she had little world experience and he could show her what he knew. Lame, right? But the marriage is working. And another friend married someone because he’s the male version of Mother Theresa. Great, right? But the marriage fell apart because in the end, she wanted someone to pay attention to her, not save the world.
So I try to not complain about my husband because there’s a lot that is good about him. I try instead to focus on how to be better at understanding myself. Because who you pick to be around says a lot about who you are.
And this is true for a lot of areas in life. Like, look at your friends. Good-looking people hang out with good-looking people. And who you hang out with is so influential on you that fat friends make you fat.
It’s true at work, too. A former boss used to tell me that you should always hire A players because one B player brings everyone down — teams perform to their lowest performer. I think that’s true. I also think that when an A sees a B on the team, the A doesn’t want to come.
So if you are complaining that you are in an office with people who are terrible at what they do, ask yourself why. And instead of broadcasting that you chose to be with terrible people, do some self-reflection and figure out why, so you don’t do it again.
It’s very hard to avoid duplicating the same mistake over and over again — that’s why most second marriages fail, and that’s why people who work at lame companies generally make their next move to another lame company. But if you are really honest about your own responsibility for choosing lameness, then you are less likely to choose it again.
Now, if I can only get as good at choosing dates as I am at choosing companies…