I remember realising this when I was in my late 20s. It was a gradual realisation. It started with my friends talking about marriage. More importantly about proposing. Male friends who had proposed to their girlfriends in the most romantic manner. Female friends who were agonising about when their boyfriends would propose to them and how to drop subtle (or not so subtle) hints. And then it hit me. No girl was waiting around for me to propose to her. No one was dropping hints or was about to start anytime soon.
From the age of 24 to 35, for most of the women I’d dated, I was either the last fling they had before they got married or the first they had after they got divorced.
No one had the slightest interest in marrying me. And I was very happy with the status quo.
My persona had something to do with the reaction I evoked. I had long hair, unkempt stubble, smoked and drank a lot. By the time I was in my early 30s, everyone figured I wasn’t marriage material – I was commitment phobic.
Which wasn’t true at all. I was deeply committed. To my work. My friends. My hobbies. I just didn’t want to get married. The same way I didn’t want to buy an expensive car or travel for the sake of travelling. (The travelling part still holds true). Actually that’s not really true. The thought of getting married didn’t occur to me very often.
Until one day I decided I wanted to be married. I don’t really know why. Maybe it was because I was tired of superficial relationships. Maybe I wanted to try marriage.
Related reading: Why chasing after marriage is not a good idea
The universe worked in its predictable way and very soon after, I was.
The marriage didn’t last but that’s another story. And one that will never be told on these pages.
The irony was that soon after I got divorced, I became someone women took seriously.
And though it was an irony, it wasn’t a surprise.
Women don’t know this, but most of us men realise that women wonder why a single man is single – and figure something is wrong with him. When he is seeing another woman or is breaking up with a woman, he becomes acceptable even intriguing.
It’s like some sort of an ISI mark.
It took a divorce for me to become marriage material. The god of relationships has an amazing sense of humour.
Related reading: Divorce is not the end of the world but a new beginning
The women I met invariably wanted to settle down. Me, I wanted to find true love. Someone I wanted to grow old with. Marriage was only a piece of paper that would or wouldn’t be signed.
Thankfully, I soon found that love. But from being divorced to being married again was a strangely instructive period, dating and relationships wise.
There are certain dos and don’ts.
Sometimes the woman will not be really into you. She’s looking for a husband and you seem like the best candidate. Don’t judge her. That’s her prerogative. Don’t mess around. Don’t be taken in either.
Children are sacred creatures. Never get into a relationship with a woman with children from a previous marriage unless there is complete clarity. And honesty. Dating a mother is a totally different ballgame.
Most importantly, don’t get fooled into thinking that you have morphed into Adonis just because suddenly many more women are interested in you. Society is just kinder to the 40-year-old single man than the 40-year-old single woman. The pressure on you to settle down is less, so you’re looking less actively.
There will be a lot of temptations for remarriage after divorce – to marry someone because she is more beautiful than your ex – or cooler – or to marry because you’re bored – or because you’ve finally found someone who seems to worship the ground you walk on. Or just because two incomes are better than one.
Dishonest motives never work. And you’re old enough to know there are no third chances.