Midlife women dating after divorce: What are you looking for from a true love?

After you've been divorced for about five seconds, everyone wants to fix you up. You are such a catch, you're told, and you don't want to wait too long…people will whisper, like somehow we've got a secret expiration date. Finding love again, dating over 40, after marriage, divorce and in midlife is a fascinating voyage and there's not much good advice out there. There certainly is a boatload of advice, but not much worth heeding.

How to find love again

The secret to finding true love is there is no secret. It's just you and your wiser, stronger, truer self and the world out there. I'm the best version of myself at this age. I know so much more about everything – including who I am, what I want, what and who inspires me and what and who doesn't. My instincts are at peak performance. I like who I am, what I do, and how I make my way in the world. Most of the midlife women I know feel this way - that we've really come into our own wisdom and confidence. It seems like we'd be in the best position possible to make excellent choices in our romantic lives as well.

Make a dating after divorce checklist

I like lists. They're clear, satisfying, and let me get every idea or task out in one place to visualize. I love the pro/con list for making decisions. I love the task list for work. I always have the ideas list for my writing. What can I tell you? I like a list. Now I have a list of, I don't know what - of qualities, ideals, demands, requirements, suggestions, attributes, commandments – that reflect my aspirations for the kind of man I could fall in love with, find true love with, if I were so inclined, at this stage in my life. I'm sharing it with you, hoping you will write your own list, or, that you know exactly who I'm talking about and you'll have him call me.

My Find-True-Love list:

He will cherish, treasure and adore me, rightly feeling that he is the luckiest guy on the planet.

He will not need me to fill any black holes of need or repair any deep childhood wounds.

He will be a fully realized, independent, emotionally intact, whole person.

He will be grateful and aware that I am a fully realized, independent, emotionally intact, whole person. He will expect nothing less.

He will be my person.

He will have close male friends, some since childhood.

He will surround himself with people who challenge him, not who simply affirm him.

He will be self-confident, humble and eager to learn from his mistakes.

He will be formally educated but understand – and critical of - the limitations of formal education.

He will be wildly spiritual.

Must be a believer in something.

He will be one of those guys who fixes things – but not me.

He will not look to me to fix him or complete him.

He will be radically self-sufficient.

He will have a big, generous, open heart.

He will have a fierce, sharp, open mind.

He will look at me in that certain way.

When I'm around him I will feel a certain way.

Together, we will feel a deep calm, a sense of essential rightness.

He will neither be my solution nor my problem.

He will be well read.

He will understand that reading the newsprint version of the Sunday New York Times in bed is a form of prayer.

He will not be one of those tall, dashingly handsome, smugalishious, master-of-the-universe types.

He will smell good.

Must love dogs.

Must have deliciously subversive and ecclectic musical tastes, including deep love for Nina Simone, The Clash, Pete Seeger and Prince.

If he were to die, his funeral would be packed with friends, family, former students and/or clients/patients, colleagues – all of whom would wait in a line snaking out the door, down the block to have the chance to say something about how much they loved him and how he had changed their lives and how the world was so much better because he was in it. That's what happened at my brother's memorial service. I only want to love a person who makes that kind of mark on our world.

His best qualities will include empathy, compassion, passion and integrity.

He will love my daughter unconditionally and understand from the start that I will always choose her.

He will have respect and admiration for my close friendship and co-parenting relationship with my wasband.

Statistically speaking, he will have an ex-wife. He must have a humane, respectful, working, co-parenting relationship with her. He may not hate her or badmouth her.

I prefer only one ex-wife but will hear pleadings for special circumstances for two. Two's my limit. I am suspicious of none.

Statistically speaking, he will have children. He must be a spectacularly devoted, present, active, fully-engaged father.

He will understand and have deep, non-judgmental empathy for my enduring and relentless grief over the loss of my brother. He will never, ever say: Don't you think it's time to move on?

He will not be looking for someone with whom to re-enact, re-ignite or re-live some endless loop of pain, rage, revenge or drama from past relationships or past lives.

He will be passionate about his work, which will contribute something good to society.

He will call my work noble.

He will not be judgmental.

His work will preferably give him a body of knowledge useful to me – doctor, lawyer, educator, writer, beloved, benevolent King of a small, tropical nation.

He will be close with his siblings.

He will not be easily hurt.

He will make me laugh.

He will love me deeply, unconditionally, with his entire being, AS I AM RIGHT NOW. This car is being sold AS IS.

He will not want to change me inside or out.

He will neither have - nor voice - opinions about what I do with my hair. He will simply love my hair.

He will want desperately to marry me but will be willing to wait.

He will expect and want an active, vibrant, open, playful, imaginative and intimate physical life together.

He will have a complicated but strong relationship with his mother.

He will develop a complicated but strong relationship with my mother.

He will not sweat the small stuff.

If I am in his life, he will feel like he won the lottery, because he will be right.

Read more advice and musings on midlife, marriage, divorce and dating:

Dating Over 40: Post-Divorce Midlife Dating - How Bad Can it Really Be?

Seeking a Midlife Love Life? Best Dating Coach - Middle School Girls!

Note to Self: Best Valentine's Day Gifts for Post-Divorce, Single, Midlife Mothers

Middle School Daughter Gives Midlife Mom a Beauty Makeover from the Inside Out

Best Tip for Midlife Divorce and Dating Makeover? Attitude Adjustment

Marriage Advice for a Bride and Groom Whose Wedding is Crashed by an Uninvited Guest: Hurricane Irene

Wedding Tips and Marital Do's and Don'ts for Millennial Brides: Part 2 (Plus advice from President Obama)

Wedding Tips and Marital Advice for a Millennial Bride: Part 1: Where to Begin?

Read more tales from The Divorce Diaries:

Seeking a Midlife Love Life? Best Dating Coach - Middle School Girls!,

Dating Over 40: Midlife Dating…How Bad Can it Really Be?

Getting a Divorce? Expert Says Ask Your Children How to Parent

A Bill of 33 Rights for Children of Divorce

Divorce Diaries: A Bill of Rights for Ex Wives

Parenting After Divorce? Expert Taught You Must Listen to Your Children's Pain

Nobody Told Me Sharing Custody Meant Sharing My Daughter!

Divorce Diaries: 7 Life Lessons on Midlife Break-ups

About the Author

Pam Cytrynbaum

Pamela Cytrynbaum teaches at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

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