Q: I am 34 years old, I have been married for seven years and I have no children. It just didn’t happen the first few years, then I gave up. Since then, my husband was less interested in sex because he knew how frustrated I felt about not getting pregnant.
We discussed adoption, but he disagreed and wouldn’t change his mind. I knew there were other options, like in vitro fertilization, but after one attempt when it didn’t “take,” neither of us could even talk about it.
Now I’ve been divorced and supposedly “free” for six months, but I don’t feel it. All my close friends are pushing me to start dating online, and I keep making excuses.
Then something happened last week that made me think I had to do something, or I would end up more miserable.
A man who is a regular consultant in another part of the company where I work emailed me to ask how I was doing.
I was shocked. Even if he is always nice and talkative with me if he sees me (my office is on the same floor as his but we don’t work on the same subjects). We never spoke as regular friends, just acquaintances at work.
When I hesitated, he said he’d heard I was “going through a tough time.” He apologized for taking the risk, but said he always found me friendly and positive, and knew from his own experience how a marriage breakdown can make you feel hopeless for a while.
Then he told me that I shouldn’t stay in this state of mind, because I’m “too nice” to hide at home. He said he understood it might be too soon, but he hopes we can have coffee together after work someday.
I surprised myself and just said quietly, “OK, I’ll let you know.”
I did not respond to him by email. And I’m terrified.
Part of me wonders if I can even try something so simple, not really a date. Before my divorce, I would have met him in an instant as part of a co-worker’s acquaintance.
Now I wonder if he just thinks I’m vulnerable, and he’s going to make a pass or worse, and I’m going to sink even more depressed about how much my life has changed.
What do you think? Do I have to meet this guy just to see what it’s like to be on a simple coffee date? Or should I take my best friend’s advice and see if he really is a good man who will cheer me up?
A:You need a lift in your mind, and a casual encounter with a guy you already know is worth trying, as long as you don’t stress yourself out in negativity.
You are stronger than you think. You are coming out of a difficult marriage in which the divorce was mutually agreed upon. You are a problem solver, not a relationship failure.
This man is unlikely to make any inappropriate gestures, so don’t make excuses not to meet him. Call on your usual confidence, listen/discuss without dragging out your whole “story”.
Leave no room in this simple friendly meeting for social anxiety to ruin your chance to relax and be your best self.
Remember that you overcame personal pain during the difficult years of your marriage. It’s behind you now. You can create your own future. Live, date, keep close friends. Treat depression if it persists.
Ellie’s tip of the day
Many people are much stronger emotionally than they realize. If they firmly resolve to rise above the sadness and false guilt of past hurts, they have a real chance of rebuilding their self-confidence.