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It’s Much Worse to Be Committed to Someone Bad For You Than It Is to Be Alone

·505 words·3 mins

When I was younger, I noticed that a lot of older people found it harder to date. They seemed more particular about the people they would see. I had a close friend who was much older than me that had divorced long ago but seemed reluctant to get back out there.

And I didn’t want to bug him by asking (it wasn’t his favorite subject, when we’d even brush up against it incidentally), so I studied him and thought about it a lot. We worked at a bookstore together, and sometimes his ex-wife would come in, and he’d ring her up. And I’d watch them too. Search for clues to explain what had gone wrong. And why he was the way he was.

Which was ruggedly independent by the way. He was a super cool poet dude who lived alone off the grid in a tiny cabin with an adorable black cat.

Anyway, he was… forty years older than me? And we were extremely good friends when we worked there. I have so many fond memories of him.

And I came up with this idea that people get fussier as they get older. More set in their ways. So they have a harder time dating.

As I write this essay, I’m about 20 years older than I was when I knew this friend. (I’ve moved and switched jobs a few times and have no idea where he even is; it’s complicated by the fact that he was off the grid even back then so social media is well out of the question.)

Anyway, now that I’m older and have married, divorced, and remarried myself — and have been in that second marriage long enough to have really good perspective on things, I don’t think I was on the right track at all when I thought that older people have a harder time dating because they are fussy.

Because while I remarried once, it was a complete fluke that it even happened. If my second spouse hadn’t been absolutely freaking perfect for me, I would have run for the hills. I frankly didn’t want to remarry. It happened much sooner than I could really understand or process it.

But I also knew it was right, so I did it. And I’m glad.

The reality was that I had a moderate aversion to remarriage. And it’s similar now.

That’s because I’ve learned that it’s much worse to be committed to someone who isn’t good for you than it is to be alone. Especially because you can be single, even not dating a single soul in any capacity, and still have great company through friends. (Or be a solo polyamorist, or any of a million other unconventional arrangements that I could spend an entire book on.)

And looking back, I can see that’s what was going on with my dear friend living off the grid. He had his happiness figured out and it didn’t look at all like his former happiness. And that was perfectly fine with him.


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